UCLA's Prospects Still Uncertain

The big news is, of course, the verbal commitment of Josh Smith Monday, but the rest of the recruiting story for UCLA, with the early signing period starting tomorrow, is whether the rest of UCLA's targets in 2010 will, in fact, sign now or wait until spring...

The early signing period for college basketball recruiting starts this Wednesday, the 11th, and goes through Wednesday, the 18th.

So many of UCLA's prospect have threatened that they're going to wait until spring to sign and, frankly, many sources close to their recruitments aren't sure exactly what they'll do.

One who isn't waiting until spring is Josh Smith, the elite, 6-9 center from Kent (Wash.) Kentwood, the #13-ranked player in the nation. Smith verbally committed to UCLA Monday night, a gesture that was merely a formality, like Bruin Report Online had been reporting for some time.

Smith is a great college center prospect. His low-post abilities aren't very common anymore among recruits, with a legit back-to-the-basket game to go along with a dominating physicality. He's also a guy who, since he is a true center at just 6-9, and has a ways to go in terms of getting in NBA shape and honing his skills, you could easily see staying in college for three years. Kevin Love jumped to the NBA because he could play the four in the pros, but Smith's only true position is the five. This makes him even more valuable to a college program. If, in fact, Smith develops at a moderate rate, all of these factors could make him easily one of the few recruits with the biggest impact on UCLA since Ben Howland has been coaching the Bruins.

What also makes Smith valuable is his possible Pied-Piper Effect, primarily his friendship with UCLA's target at point guard, Ray McCallum, the 6-1 prospect from Beverly Hills (Mich.) Detroit Country Day, the nation's #23-ranked player. Smith will certainly be calling McCallum and compelling him to join him at UCLA. Sources have told us they are uncertain whether McCallum will sign in the November period but that the good money is he will. He has taken four visits, to UCLA, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Florida. We're still hearing that it's between UCLA and Arizona, but haven't heard any news after his Florida visit this last weekend. A source told us that the commitment of Smith would have an impact on McCallum's decision.

Terrence Jones, the 6-7 forward from Portland (Ore.) Jefferson, who is the 20th-ranked player in the nation, just took his official visit to UCLA this last weekend, his fifth and final one. He has visited UCLA, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington. He told Scout.com that he'll decide whether he'll sign in the early November signing period or wait until spring, but his high school coach told Scout.com's Evan Daniels that he's still not sure as last night (Latest on Jones). We had heard that he is leaning toward signing this week, but that was before his visit to UCLA. Sources are telling us that his inclination is to stay close to home, and that Kentucky and Oklahoma are trailing the west coast schools for him. One source believed that it's a UCLA-Washington battle, but it's always tough to count out Oregon in elite recruitments like this. Jones apparently has extensive family in the SoCal area. If he does, in fact, choose to wait until spring then all bets are off on where he could be leaning since things will undoubtedly change in five months.

We haven't heard much recently on Trey Zeigler, the 6-4 shooting guard from Mount Pleasant (Mich.) High, the #34-ranked player in the nation, but the prevailing sentiment is that he will, in fact, wait until spring to decide. Zeigler has taken official visits to UCLA, Michigan and Oklahoma. The thought was that Zeigler could wait until spring to see if his father, Ernie Zeigler, would still have his job as the head coach at Central Michigan.

The #1 player in the country, Harrison Barnes, the 6-6 small forward from Ames (Iowa) High who took his official visit to UCLA November 1st, reportedly had a very good visit. It's still believed, however, that UCLA is a longshot, running behind at least Duke, North Carolina and Kansas. This is the recruiting season for elite recruits to play it very close to the vest, and the #1 prospect in the country is the prime example of it. Sources close to the situation believe North Carolina has the edge, but wouldn't want to put a wager on it.

We are certain that UCLA will receive a signed NLI on Wednesday from Tyler Lamb, the 6-4 shooting guard from Santa Ana Mater Dei. Lamb, of course, has been verbally committed to UCLA for some time.

Here's a story done by Evan Daniels on whether some elite recruits will indeed sign this November, including many prospects UCLA is recruiting: To Sign or Not to Sign?


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