Hoops Recruiting for 2010 and 2011

The July evaluation period begins today, and that means UCLA coaches will fan out across the country in search of future Bruins. Here are the factors concerning UCLA recruiting, including the issue with the 2011 class, as well as the prospects in both the 2010 and 2011 classes UCLA will be watching over the next few weeks...

The July evaluation period begins today and it's time for another primer on UCLA hoops recruiting.

We've explained and analyzed UCLA's recruiting situation in numerous articles (Issues Facing Hoops Recruiting).

If you read the past articles, or at least the one linked above, it will give you background on what are the factors, issues and needs for UCLA heading into July.

For the 2010 class, UCLA has a total of four scholarships to give. They might just take three with the class, and retain the last one for the 2011 class. If, however, a truly elite prospect wants to jump in the boat and take that fourth ride, UCLA will certainly give it out.

Ben Howland's philosophy is do everything you can now – including give out every scholarship you have – to be successful in the most immediate season, and worry about future seasons later.

That philosophy could very well leave UCLA with no scholarships to give the 2011 class, the issue that we discussed in the story linked above. It's a situation Ben Howland hasn't had to deal with since coming to UCLA, and it could very well motivate him to depart from his philosophy and actually save a scholarship for the 2011 recruiting class.

So, we'll approach this assuming UCLA will take three, or possibly four recruits in 2010 and hope it will sort itself out by the end of July.

In the 2010 class, Tyler Lamb, the 6-4 shooting guard from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, is already committed and has looked very good this spring and summer.

Kendall Williams, the 6-2 guard from Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Los Osos, is also verbally committed, and we've made it pretty clear here at BRO that there is an issue of whether Williams will, indeed, remain committed to UCLA. UCLA needs a point guard and Williams might not fulfill that role.

On the other hand, if UCLA feels it can't find a point guard of the caliber it wants, it very well could take two off-guards. If Williams proves to be worthy, UCLA could stick with him and Lamb in the backcourt. Or Williams and UCLA could go their separate ways and UCLA could still find another wing.

Easily the biggest story line right now is that of Josh Smith, the 6-9 C from Kent (Wash.) Kentwood, a top ten national player and one of the best true centers in the country.

A few weeks ago Smith told us that he was contemplating ending his recruitment. Since then, we've heard from good sources that he'd be committing to UCLA soon, and many rumors persist out of the Northwest to the same effect.

If UCLA adds Smith to, at the very least, Lamb, they're sitting very pretty with the 2010 class.

Other 2010 Guard Possibilities:

Ray McCallum, the 6-0 prospect from Beverly Hills (Mich.) Detroit Country Day, is the #3-ranked point guard in the nation for 2010. UCLA has offered, but he's considered a longshot at this stage.

Stephen Holt, the 6-3 point guard prospect from Portland (Ore.) Jesuit, has solidified his spot as the best point guard in the west for 2010, and a UCLA-level prospect. If UCLA likes what they see of him in July, a UCLA offer could be a game-changer for him.

Anthony Brown, the 6-6 shooting guard from Huntington Beach (Calif.) Ocean View, is still a possibility. Many Pac-10 schools have jumped in and offered, and UCLA will use July to determine whether they will.

Trey Zeigler, the 6-3 shooting guard from Mt. Pleasant (Mich.) High, is the son of former UCLA assistant Ernie Zeigler. He has UCLA among his favorites and the Bruin coaches will give him a long look in July. He plays on the same AAU team as McCallum -- Team Detroit -- so it should be easy viewing.

Keala King, the combo guard from Compton (Calif.) Dominguez, is interesting. He has good size at about 6-4 and he has some point guard instincts and passing ability. He can try to be too flashy at times, but he has some tools. UCLA will watch him this July.

Ben Vozzola, 6-4 combo guard, Las Vegas (Calif.) Centennial. Vozzola had a very good showing at UCLA's camp this week. If he continues to impress in July, he could be an option, especially if he shows he could do solid time at the point guard position.

Jordin Mayes, 6-1 point guard, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. So far, Mayes hasn't shown he's a true point guard, and not quite good enough to garner a UCLA offer. This July will give him a chance to do it.

James Walker, 6-1 combo guard, Los Alamitos (Calif.) High, has a great upside as an athlete, with good size and athleticism, but he's still raw in the process of learning how to play point guard. He had a good showing at UCLA's camp, but he'd have to really take a step up in July to garner a UCLA offer.

There are a few other wings and guards around the country that have some degree of interest in UCLA that the Bruins are recruiting, but the guys listed we feel are most the realistic options. At least, as of now, heading into the July evaluation period; so much can happen and change during July.

There are other post possibilities. If UCLA doesn't actually get Smith, or one of the following guys steps up this July and proves too good to pass up and wants to come to UCLA, the Bruins could opt for one of them.

James Johnson, 6-8 power forward, San Diego (Calif.) Morse. He's the best PF in the west for 2010. It was too bad he couldn't make the UCLA camp, which would have gotten him in front of the UCLA coaches for two days. UCLA will take a long look over the next month and see if he's in the so-good-we-have-to-use-our-fourth-and-final-ride category. If UCLA misses on Smith, and they feel Johnson can play the low post in the Pac-10, he could very well be the next option for UCLA, too.

Alex Kirk, 6-10, Los Alamos (New Mexico) High. In a down year for bigs, Kirk is one of the best in the west and is getting recruited at a high level. Kirk would have to really have a big July for UCLA to get seriously involved.

Yannick Atanga, the 6-6 power forward from Ojai (Calif.) Besant Hill, is originally from Cameroon, and plays with the same aggressiveness and energy as Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alfred Aboya. He's very athletic, and long, and plays quite a bit bigger than he is. Given UCLA's scholarship situation, he doesn't necessarily fit in to the 2010 plans, but he was impressive at UCLA's camp this week.

Harrison Barnes, 6-6 small forward, Ames (Iowa) High. The #1 player in the country, his recruitment is a circus. If the longshot comes through and somehow he wants to come to UCLA, UCLA will be doing back flips.

Dominique Ferguson, 6-8 power forward, Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence North, is the #3-ranked PF in the nation. He's a longshot since he'd 1) have to want to come to UCLA and 2) be in that too-good-to-pass-up category.

Again, this is not a comprehensive list. Every July someone emerges as a UCLA recruit, and it very well could happen in the next month.

2011 Prospects

As we analyzed (to death, actually), the situation with the 2011 class is truly up in the air. If Howland follows his long-held philosophy, he will give out every scholarship he has available to the 2010 class and, because there are no juniors on UCLA's current roster who would graduate in 2011, Howland wouldn't have a scholarship to give to the 2011 class.

When you talk to UCLA's coaching staff, including Howland, they insist that there will be scholarships to give. They don't specifically know from where, but going on past history, scholarships become available. But as we've detailed, it's not if the scholarship becomes available but when.

Regardless of whether the scholarships become available and when, here's a look at what will probably be UCLA's priorities for the 2011 class and the prospects out there.

If UCLA doesn't get a point guard in the 2010 class, getting one in the 2011 class is imperative. What's a bit distressing about the situation, though, is that there aren't many true point guards on the west coast in the class of 2011 that are of UCLA's level, and the one that clearly is, Josiah Turner, the 6-1 prospect from Rancho Cordova (Calif.) Cordova, is already committed to Arizona State. The thought that UCLA could "steal" him away from Arizona State is unrealistic since it's not really Howland's style. However, Turner, we've heard, could possibly open up his recruitment. There is talk that he has recently recognized that he's a national level prospect and might have committed to Arizona State prematurely. If he does open up his recruitment, UCLA will be one of the first programs at his door – figuratively.

Like with the point guard position, UCLA will have a need for an off-guard if it doesn't get two of them in the class of 2010.

But it's difficult to speculate too much about what UCLA would need with 2011. If they don't have a scholarship to give, it doesn't much matter. On the other hand, you could speculate that, with so many frontcourt players on the roster this fall, there could be some shakeout, which could create a need there.

But again, this is all just speculation. UCLA will approach the 2011 class this July looking for the best players available regardless of position, and see what positional needs arise in their roster by next spring.

Here are the guys they'll definitely be watching:

Nick Johnson, the 6-2 combo guard from Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland, could be a good solution in the backcourt for the Bruins, especially if he's made the transition to point guard. Last time we saw him, Johnson was more of an undersized shooting guard. We'll see this July. He's been playing really well, reportedly, and July will be a big step for him in becoming a national prospect – and perhaps garnering offers from elite high majors.

Gelaun Wheelwright, the 6-0 combo guard Corona (Calif.) Centennial, might be a very good fit. Wheelwright is a shooting guard who'll try to transition to the point guard position. He has good athleticism, a very good shooting touch, and passing ability, but will have to sharpen up his handle and decision-making. He had a good showing this week at UCLA's camp.

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. He attended UCLA's camp and did very well. He and Wheelwright could be the first two from the 2011 class to get an offer after July.

Tony Wroten, the 6-4 combo guard from Seattle (Wash.) Garfield, is a top ten player in the class nationally for 2011, and his recruitment is a circus. UCLA is trying. It probably won't help that his AAU teammate is Josh Smith.

Norvel Pelle, the 6-8 power forward from Compton (Calif.) Dominguez, is a great athlete for his size. He is originally from the Virgin Islands, and still catching on to the speed and intensity of basketball in the States. While he's not necessarily really effective when you watch him play, he does show some great quickness and mobility for his size. He claims USC and Texas have already offered him a scholarship. He came to UCLA's camp and, being a good kid, came off well. If he has a good showing over the next month he very well could get a UCLA offer.

Byron Wesley, the 6-4 wing from San Bernardino (Calif.) Cajon, is one of the best in the west at his position for 2011. He came to UCLA's camp and looked good.

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

Kyle Wiltjer is a 6-9, skilled power forward from Portland (Ore.) Jesuit, who came to UCLA's elite camp last summer and was impressive. Spencer Dinwiddie, the 6-2 point guard from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, is fairly unknown, but has a tremendous upside. He pretty thin, but quick and agile, and he is a true point guard, with a very good feel. If he matures physically, he could among the best in the west. He attended UCLA's camp this week.

Kevin Bailey, the 6-4 wing from Clovis (Calif.) Clovis East, also came to UCLA's camp, and showed a great deal of potential.

Kyle Caudill, the massive 6-10 center from Brea (Calif.) Brea-Olinda, surprised many when he committed to Arizona State a couple of months ago. Within a week of his commitment he had taken an unofficial visit to UCLA and there were pretty reliable sources from his high school that believed he was going to commit to UCLA. But, alas, he didn't get a UCLA offer and he had visited ASU before that. UCLA very well might have offered Caudill after July. Again, it's probably not realistic to think that UCLA will try to "steal" Caudill.

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 that make him an unlikely candidate for UCLA.

James McAdoo, the elite 6-8 power forward from Norfolk (Virg.) Christian, is 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.

Rakeem Christmas, the 6-8 center from Philadelphia (Penn.) Northeast Catholic, is the #1-ranked center in the nation for 2011. He'll have all the elite programs on him.

Amir Williams, the 6-9 center from Beverly Hills (Mich.) Detroit Country Day, is the #6 ranked center for 2011. The athletic tools are there, and he looks young for his age. He attends the same high school as Ray McCallum. Among the guys outside of the west for 2011, UCLA could have the best shot at Williams since he's expressed strong interest in the Bruins.


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