Recruiting Update for 2010 Class

UCLA has as a bit of a problem in terms of recruiting the 2010 class. Should it fill all of its scholarships, and potentially be left with just one or even none to give to the far more talented 2011 class? If Jrue Holiday does go pro, should they actually save the scholarship? Find out more...

As we said in our last recruiting update, this spring there has been a fairly drastic change in how basketball programs recruit.

Read the first part of that last update to get a rundown on it.

For UCLA, the main impact is that the coaching staff could be forced to wait longer before making decision on recruits. While in previous years it might have been able to make a decision on a recruit in April, after seeing him in AAU ball, it could now take a good portion of the July evaluation period before UCLA makes a decision to go, or not to go, on someone.

And it happens to be just about the worst timing for this to happen for UCLA.

UCLA's basketball recruiting is, well, in a conundrum.

It might lose Jrue Holiday for next season, if he decides to stay in the NBA draft. If that happens, and UCLA doesn't know it for sure until late June possibly, it could very well be too late for UCLA to find a guard to take his scholarship spot for next season.

On the other hand, it might not be be better  if they can't find anyone since UCLA has a scholarship issue. 

As of right now, if UCLA retains everyone who should be on the roster, and UCLA brings in three recruits with the 2010 class, it wouldn't have a scholarship to give to the 2011 class. If it loses Holiday (at the latest by next spring), it would have only one to give for 2011. 

The issue is that the 2011 class is shaping up into being a talented one, nationally and on the west coast.

But on the other hand, the 2010 class, the one UCLA will be recruiting this spring and summer, is weak, particularly on the west coast. 

UCLA already has two commitments from the 2010 class, 6-2 guard
Kendall Williams from Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Los Osos, and Tyler Lamb, the 6-4 shooting guard from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei.

Tyler Lamb, the 6-4 guard from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, is a solid commitment. Lamb has a chance to be an elite player, with good athleticism and improving skills, and a very good sense of the game. He emerged in his junior year as a star on Mater Dei, who went the season as the #1 team in the country, until they were beaten by Riverside King in the CIF Championship and by Los Angeles Fairfax in the state playoffs. 

UCLA's
primary target remaining in the 2010 class is Josh Smith, the 6-9 post from Kent (Wash.) Kentwood, who is a top ten national player.

So, again, just speculating, if UCLA got all three of those players and lost Jrue Holiday early it would have only one scholarship to give to the 2011 class.

On top of that, there is an issue with Kendall Williams, whether he is a UCLA-level player. Do you want to be giving a scholarship to a player who might not be able to play for you when scholarships are so scarce?

Then, getting back to Holiday. Let's say he does stay in the draft. Do you really want to replace him with someone who might not be an elite prospect? Because if you do, and then no one leaves your program over the next couple of years and you bring in three prospects in the 2010 class, you then have no scholarships to give to the 2011 class.

And again, the 2011 class is the one in which you want to have a good amount of scholarships to give.

It's a conundrum allright.

But we're going to try to sort it all out for you.

We can't, though, give you too much insight into what Holiday will do.  As of right now, if we had to guess, based on information we have, we'd say he's going to keep his name in the draft.  But so much can change after the NBA workouts and draft projections.

As of right now, UCLA doesn't really have many candidates to replace Holiday if he does leave. There is
Xavier Thames, the 6-3 point guard from Pleasant Grove (Calif.) Elk Grove, who asked for a release from his commitment to Washington State. The latest now from Thames is that he's leaning toward staying with WSU.

It's highly doubtful, though, that Thames will hold out until June to decide. He said recently that he's planning on making a decision pretty quickly.

And like we said above, it could be bettter to not fill Holiday's vacant scholarship for the 2009-2010 season.  Doing so could severely hurt UCLA's chances of recruiting the 2011 class.

In fact, after traveling around the country and getting a better glimpse at the talent in the 2010 class, it wouldn't be suprising if UCLA re-adjusted its entire approach to recruiting the 2010 class.   The theory could be: Only take elite talent.  In terms of a a post, it could be
Josh Smith or no one. Or perhaps another a top-40 national prospect, if he happens to want to jump in the boat. 

Josh Smith, the 6-9 center from Kent (Wash.) Kentwood is, as everyone knows, UCLA's prime target. Smith, the #4-ranked player in the nation for 2010, is a huge-bodied kid with very good hands. He has the entire country after him, but for the longest time UCLA was thought to be his leader.  It's uncertain if that's the case now, however.  Washington has come on, riding the wave of their first outright Pac-10 championship since 1953.  Smith, living in the Seattle area, has been hit by the Husky hype.  Heck, Seattle doesn't have a professional basketball team so the Huskies are getting a great deal of attention, which we're told hasn't been lost on Smith. Being local, too, he can visit Washington's campus and hang out with the coaches and players.  So, UCLA now has a true fight on its hands with the Huskies for Smith.

But other than Smith, UCLA very well might not take anyone less than an future NBAer in the 2010 class.

In fact, as we've said previously, it could be interesting to see what happens with Kendall Williams.  Williams, in our opinion, is a mid-major prospect, and it's questionable whether UCLA should take him.  Now, we don't necessarily know how UCLA feels about Williams, but we do know that nothing will probably happen in regard to him and UCLA until July, when the UCLA coaches get a better chance to see him play against elite competition.

But, let's speculate, and say that UCLA and Williams go their separate ways.  Let's say UCLA doesn't get Smith.  The Bruins very well could then hold pat with Lamb, unless, as we said, a truly elite, future NBAer decides to jump in the boat. 

But that might be the only way UCLA takes another prospect.

It might be a big more agreeable to taking a guard in 2010, since, if you project out UCLA's roster, it will need more backcourt players.

At this time, the only prospect UCLA is recruiting that they might actually take would be Ray McCallum, the 6-1 point guard from Beverly Hills (Mich.) Detroit Country Day, who is the #6-ranked point guard in the nation.

Of course, someone else could emerge. UCLA is also watching:

Jordin Mayes, the 6-1 combo guard from Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. Mayes isn't a true point guard, but has a great feel and could definitely do time there in college, with good scoring skills.

Anthony Brown, the 6-6 small forward from Huntington Beach (Calif.) Ocean View, has some big upside. He started his junior season slow, but really came on down the stretch, helping his team to a CIF championship. UCLA did get Tyler Honeycutt and Mike Moser in the 2009 class, two 6-6+ wing types, which might muddy up things for Brown, . He's a good student – a prototype UCLA kid. 

Stephen Holt, the 6-1 point guard from Portland (Ore.) Jesuit, is another one to watch, but the thought is that he'd have to show some development this spring and summer to be considered a UCLA-level prospect.

Keala King, the 6-4 guard from Compton (Calif.) Dominguez, is another UCLA is watching. King is a very good passer and strong ball handler, but lacks a good outside shot and has a pretty loose, undisciplined game. 

In terms of bigs, UCLA is also watching:

Richard Solomon, the 6-9 center from Torrance (Calif.) Bishop Montgomery, who is the latest to emerge in SoCal as a high major prospect in the class of 2010.  That can happen when you grown three inches in six months, like Solomon did.  He's had the Pac-10 by to see him, including UCLA, and he'll have a steady flow of coaches by in April to watch him work out. 

Alex Kirk, a 6-10 center from Los Alamos (New Mexico) High, is one of the hottest prospects in the west for 2010. Kirk has some skills, and that's brought out the likes of just about the entire Pac-10 staff, and some from the Big 12 and Gonzaga. Having good grades, there are some reports that much of the Pac-10 has already offered him. UCLA has been out to New Mexico to see him.

For UCLA to offer Solomon or Kirk, they would have to take a big leap in the next couple of months and have a monster July.




The 2011 class looks quite a bit better in California in terms of talent. It's still early for sophomores, but right now there are clearly more potentially elite prospects in the 2011 class than the 2010 class in the west.

As we discussed in the previous story, UCLA might not have many scholarships to give to the 2011 class, unless a few things happen.  As of right now, if everyone who is slated to be on the roster for the 2011-2012 season remains, and UCLA takes three players in the 2010 class, the Bruins would be without a scholarship to give to the 2011 class.

Now, it's a no-brainer that Jrue Holiday will be gone by the end of next season (at this time it's a good bet he'll keep his name in the draft this spring).  That would open up a scholarship, unless UCLA chooses to fill it by signing an additional player to the 2009 class this spring.

As we laid out in the previous story, UCLA very well might not give out all three scholarships it has available for the 2010 class.  With the talent in the 2010 class down, especially in the west, UCLA very well could choose to save a scholarship for the more talented 2011 class. 

But that could be difficult.  UCLA already has commitments from Kendall Williams and Tyler Lamb.  While we've said before that it's uncertain if Williams will prove to be a UCLA-level player, UCLA still very well could keep his commitment.  If UCLA does, also, get Josh Smith, it would fill the three rides. 

It's impossible to predict what will happen in terms of UCLA's 2010 recruiting.  It could end up with an extra scholarship that it could use for 2011, or it could end up filing the three scholarships.

There's also the very real possibility that a player -- or players -- currently on the UCLA roster leave the program early or even transfer.  It's a fool's task, however,  to try to project whether someone like Malcolm Lee will be at UCLA for all four years or develop enough to leave for the NBA early.  It's also difficult to predict whether someone will transfer out.  There will, though, be a particular logjam at the power forward position over the next few years: Dreew Gordon could end up playing the position; there are incoming power forwards Brendan Lane and Reeves Nelson; and incoming wings Tyler Honeycutt and/or Mike Moser could easily grow into power forwards. 

There is a time constriction, however.  UCLA will focus its recruitment and look to get commitments from the 2011 class starting next spring, so for UCLA to be able to knowingly have a scholarship, a player would have to jump to the NBA by next spring.  It's fairly unlikely that someone else (besides Holiday) will leave for the NBA by the end of next season. Someone could decide to transfer out by the end of next season, but it's impossible to bank on that. 

Bottom line: How many scholarships UCLA has to give to the 2011 class is completely uncertain.  You can speculate that, through a number of means, UCLA will have some to give, but it could be one, two, three or maybe even four.

It would be a shame if UCLA, though, didn't have enough rides for 2011 to take advantage of the talent in the class. 

In terms of positional need, so much depends on what happens with the recruitment of the class of 2010.  At the top of the list for both classes is a point guard; if UCLA doesn't get one in 2010 (or from the 2009 class, actually, if it somehow found one to sign this spring if Holiday left), it will be desperate for one in 2011.  

While, again, it's impossible to project UCLA's roster for the 2011-2012 season, it's probably a safe guess that UCLA would need another guard/wing.  If you assume (which isn't always smart to do) that there will be some shakeout at the power forward position, it's likely UCLA will need a four.  You can also see that UCLA could very well need a five, too.

Regardless of UCLA's needs, here are the potential top targets for UCLA in the 2011 class.

Gelaun Wheelwright, the athletic 6-1 guard from Corona (Calif.) Centennial, will probably be considered an elite national prospect as soon as the national scouts get a look at him. He likes UCLA quite a bit (Story on Wheelwright).  UCLA recently went to watch Wheelwright, and reportedly the Bruins are very high on him.  It wouldn't be surprising if UCLA offered Wheelwright a scholarship by the end of July.  It wouldn't be suprising if Wheelwright, too, didn't take too long to commit to the Bruins.  There are rumors that he could be transferring to Mater Dei, which might not be the best thing for him. Over the next three years, the most critical thing for Wheelwright is that he play the point guard position, and develop those skills. 

Tony Wroten, the 6-4 combo guard from Seattle (Wash.) Garfield, is the #1-ranked player in the class nationally for 2011, and his recruitment is a circus. UCLA is trying. It could help -- or hurt -- that Wroten's AAU teammate is Josh Smith. More than likely, Wroten is looking for a clear one-and-done scenario, and staying close to home and going to Washington is what most close to the situation think will happen. 

Kyle Caudill, the massive 6-10 center from Brea (Calif.) Brea-Olinda, continues to improve his body, athleticism and mobility. He has good skills and hands, and if he continues to develop at the pace he is, expect him to be a UCLA-level recruit. If UCLA offers him, we've heard that the Bruins would be the strong leaders for him.

Angelo Chol, the 6-8 power forward/post from San Diego (Calif.) Hoover, is an incredibly long athlete who plays above the rim, and is really blossoming as his offensive skills develop. He averaged a triple-double as a sophomore. UCLA has spent some time watching him, and it's thought he could be on his way to a UCLA offer.

Nick Johnson, the 6-2 shooting guard from Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland, claims offers from ASU and Gonzaga, and has high interest in UCLA. He had a good performance in the Boo Williams tournament, and it undoubtedly will raise his stock nationally. 

Kevin Johnson, the 6-9 post from Gardena (Calif.) Serra, is a big body with a good post feel, and definitely a high-major D-1 prospect. There could be academic and other issues.

Norvel Pelle, the 6-8 power forward from Compton (Calif.) Dominguez, is a great athlete for his size. He claims USC and Texas have already offered him a scholarship. He's had some issues, however, in terms of motivation, and it led to very limited playing time at Dominguez this last season.

Kyle Wiltjer is a 6-8, skilled power forward from Portland (Ore.) Jesuit who came to UCLA's elite camp last summer and was impressive.

Jabari Brown, the 6-3 shooting guard from Richmond (Calif.) Salesian, is considered one of the best backcourt players in the west for 2011.

Byron Wesley, the 6-4 small forward from San Bernardino (Calif.) Cajon, is one of the early best wings in the 2011 class in the west. 

Jahii Carson,  the 5-10 point guard from Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe, is talented and true point guard, but pretty small.  It will have to be seen whether he's good enough to make up for his size. 

Gary Bell, the 6-0 combo guard from Kent (Wash.) can light it up, but is thought to be more of a two-guard right now.  Reportedly he already has an offer from Washington.  

Rakeem Christmas, the 6-9 center from Philadelphia (Penn.) Northeast Catholic, is the #2-ranked center in the nation for 2011 and has UCLA on his early list. 

Julian Royal, the 6-8 post from Alpharetta (Georgia) Milton is the #3-ranked power forward for 2001 and mentions UCLA. When's the last time (or first time) UCLA got a player out of the southeast?

James McAdoo, the elite 6-8 power forward from Norfolk (Virg.) Christian, is probably a top ten national player who has UCLA on his list of elite programs. It's believed it will be a case of everyone trying to beat North Carolina in the end.

2012

Trying to project 1) what UCLA will need in the 2012 class, 2) how many scholarships they'll have and 3) who will be a UCLA-level prospect is near-impossible.

We know one thing, though: Xavier Johnson, the 6-5 small forward from Temecula (Calif.) Chaparral, has a chance to be one of the best prospects in the country for his class. He has a classic wing body, great athleticism and an excellent feel for the game. Encouraging for UCLA, he came to the Bruin elite camp and likes UCLA. He's also apparently playing with a Pump AAU team, which is a good thing for UCLA. 

Brandon Ashley, a 6-6 power forward from Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd, is very long with great mobility and has a very good skill level for a freshman. He was at UCLA's elite camp also last summer. Also at Bishop O'Dowd is Richard Longrus, 6-5 small forward who also is showing early signs of being a high-major prospect.


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