Hoops Recruiting: Still Looking

UCLA is in an unusual situation in recruiting this season -- looking to fill out its class with not just one, maybe a few more recruits. Here's the latest on the recruits UCLA is considering...

With the way this UCLA season has gone so far, it's no secret that the Bruins need to upgrade their athleticism and overall talent level. For the first time since Ben Howland has been head coach, UCLA assistants are missing a significant number of games during the season in order to be on the road evaluating and recruiting prospects.

While UCLA has signed NLIs from Tyler Lamb and Josh Smith, along with a verbal commitment from junior college point guard Lazeric Jones, the Bruins would still like to add as many as two or three additional players to the class. They won't give out scholarships just to give them out. But if the staff finds players that they believe can help – particularly if the players are athletic and can defend – then there could be a few more scholarships offered.

As I said, athleticism and defensive ability are big priorities for the staff. Obviously, they'd love to find a great athlete that can do it all. But those guys aren't easy to find (they're called pros), particularly at this time of the year. And while they're not looking specifically for just a certain position, there is a feeling that another quick point guard, an athletic wing, and a versatile, athletic four man (think Luc Richard Mbah a Moute as the ideal), would fill some gaps on the roster. Finding those guys isn't easy and there's no guarantee that those positions will be filled between now and next year.

Ideally, you would get some of those needs addressed in the juco ranks, given the fact that most of the top high school prospects signed in the fall. There are a lot of very good athletes at the juco level; they're more physically mature and, thus, more likely to be ready to help right away. One of the many problems with jucos, though, is that they rarely have the academic profile to get into UCLA. The staff feels fortunate to have found Lazeric Jones. The staff is scouring the country looking for more guys that might be academically qualified, and talented enough, but it's not an easy task.

There have been some JC players that have surfaced, saying that UCLA is recruiting them. As we said, the Bruin coaches are out there evaluating and making contact but, to our knowledge, at present there aren't any other juco players that UCLA is seriously considering or is close to offering a scholarship at this time.

In terms of the high school possibilities, the Bruins continue to recruit Ray McCallum, Jr., the 6-1 point guard from Beverly Hills (Mich.) Detroit Country Day and Terrence Jones, the 6-7 power forward from Portland (Ore.) Jefferson, and Trey Zeigler, the 6-3 shooting guard, from Mt. Pleasant (Mich.) High. I haven't heard anything that leads me to believe any of those players is coming to Westwood, but they also haven't committed anywhere else yet, so they're still possibilities.

A couple of new names that have cropped up recently are Tim Douglas, a 5-8 PG at Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair, and Jonathan Loyd, a 5-9 PG at Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. Douglas is the best passer I've seen in the 2010 class, he has good quickness and he's an adequate shooter. He's also an outstanding student with Ivy League grades. However, he is very small and he needs to improve as a defender. Loyd is probably a little quicker, more explosive and a better defender. He also shoots the ball decently and he's adept at getting into the lane. Neither player looks to be a guy that would impact right away next year, but they do have some attributes that might allow them to help down the road.

The Bruins are continuing to monitor Jordin Mayes, 6-2 SG/PG Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester, and Deonte Burton, 6-1 SG Compton (Calif.) Centennial. Mayes is somewhat intriguing due to his versatility and the possibility that he could give you time at two positions. Burton is strictly a two guard, but he's a little better athlete than Mayes and more of a scorer.

In addition to covering the high school and juco ranks, the Bruin staff is investigating the possibility of finding a foreign player. Those players often come with their own set of issues -- eligibility compromised from professional participation being a big one – but the staff is making inquiries to see if they might find someone that could help the team next year.

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