Not only are the Bruins having to recruit players to potentially sign in the spring signing period, there is also the issue of hiring an assistant coach.
The first day of the signing period is this Wednesday, April 14th, and it runs until Wednesday, May 19th. We don't expect any of the recruits that have yet to announce to go too deep into the signing period before making their decision, but it wouldn't be surprising if they didn't actually announce and sign on this Wednesday.
As we reported Friday, we're hearing it's now likely that Trey Zeigler, the 6-4 wing from Mt. Pleasant (Mich.) High, will go to Central Michigan to play for his father, Ernie Zeigler. Of course, things can change, but that's the prevailing wisdom at this point.
Ray McCallum, the 6-1 point guard from Beverly Hills (Mich.) Detroit Country Day, who has had good performances in two recent all-star games, is keeping everything pretty close to the vest. It's believed though, by good sources, that he'll also opt to play for his father, Ray McCallum Sr., who is the coach at Detroit. As we said, don't be surprised if McCallum doesn't necessarily make his decision known this Wednesday.
As we've maintained for a while and continue to hear, UCLA is one of the longer shots for Terrence Jones, the 6-7 forward from Portland (Ore.) Jefferson. As we've also reported, Jones could struggle to qualify academically.
If UCLA misses with all three, they'll probably opt for one or more of the following: Deonte Burton, the 6-1 shooting guard from Compton (Calif.) Centennial; Matt Carlino, the 6-1 combo guard who de-committed from Indiana and is part of the 2012 class but could enroll in college early, as in this fall; or Jon Loyd, the 5-9 point guard from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman.
There was a plan for Burton to visit UCLA officially last weekend, but that didn't happen. It more than likely will get re-scheduled.
UCLA continues to look into other possibilities, but these are the most likely candidates remaining on UCLA's recruiting board for spring.
There are also still some rumors from decent sources that some current college players are investigating potentially transferring to UCLA. Of course, they wouldn't be eligible to play next fall, having to sit a year due to the NCAA transfer rules.
UCLA, as of right now, has nine scholarship players for next season, and 4 available scholarships. More than likely Ben Howland won't be able to fill all four, but you can expect at least two given out, with possibly two or so retained for the 2012 class.
Probably an equally significant issue is that of the vacant coaching spot on Howland's staff. There is also quite a bit of talk in coaching circles that Howland, in fact, could have more than one spot to fill on his staff this spring. Director of Basketball Operations Joe Hillock very well could leave the program to get the women's head coaching job at Cal State Northridge.
The Final Four is the place for college coaches to network and talk, and there were many names floating around in Indianapolis in relation to UCLA's staff. Ray Lopes, the current assistant at Idaho and former head coach at Fresno State, is a name mentioned quite often. Lopes is known as a good recruiter, but he does have a bit of a tainted history, having run into problems with the NCAA over illegal recruiting calls while at Fresno State.
Phil Matthews, the veteran coach who is considered one of the best recruiters in the west, is also being mentioned. Matthews is the former head coach at San Francisco and currently an assistant at Nebraska, who was also recently a finalist for the UC Irvine head coaching job.
Other names we've heard mentioned: Miles Simon, the former Arizona assistant and player; Dedrique Taylor, the Arizona State assistant; Lamont Smith, another ASU assistant; and DeMario Slocum, an assistant at Colorado State; and T.J. Otzelberger, an assistant at Iowa State who has considerable recruiting ties to the west coast and is known as very effective recruiter.
It's customary for most high major staffs to have at least one African-American assistant coach, and it's clear that Howland recognizes the need to hire one, if not two, African-American assistants.