Talent Comes West With Nike EYBL

It's rare that Nike AAU teams participate in a west coast event, but this weekend the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League comes to Los Angeles, and it will bring with it a great deal of talented prospects, including some that will take the opportunity to visit UCLA unofficially...

This weekend the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League will be in Los Angeles, and it's kind of a big deal.

Nike, notoriously, doesn't generally have many west coast AAU teams (which is strange for being a west-coast based company). And the west coast AAU teams that are affiliated with Nike generally travel to participate mostly in tournaments outside of the west.

For a UCLA coach that sometimes means you have travel back east to see a west coast player who plays on a Nike AAU team.

And for west coast scouts, it makes it difficult to see many west coast Nike kids, too.

But this weekend, with the Nike EYBL at the HAX facility in Hawthorne, it's a rare chance to see not only the west coast Nike AAU teams, but many of the best Nike AAU teams from around the country.

Now, of course, UCLA coaches (and all college coaches) are prohibited to attend the Nike EYBL, since it's not during an evaluation period. But scouts, of course, aren't restricted by NCAA rules.

It does provide an opportunity for many of the players who are participating in the Nike EYBL to take an unofficial visit to UCLA while in Los Angeles.

One of the best AAU teams in the west is the Oakland Soldiers, and they are traditionally hard to find in a tournament on the west coast. But they'll be playing in the Nike EYBL this weekend. They feature: 6-5 senior Jabari Brown from Oakland (Calif) High, the #5-ranked shooting guard in the nation; 6-9 Kyle Wiltjer from Portland (Ore.) Jesuit, the #5-ranked power forward, and one of UCLA's biggest junior-to-be targets, Brandon Ashley, the 6-7 power forward from Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd.

From what we're hearing, the Oakland Soldiers team has tentatively planned to visit UCLA's campus after they participate in the EYBL.

California Supreme will play in the EYBL, and they'll feature Jahii Carson, the 5-11 senior point guard from Mesa (Ariz.) High, who is emerging as one of the best at his position in the national class of 2011. Carson, who usually plays with Compton Magic, is on loan to California Supreme for the weekend. In fact, California Supreme will face the Oakland Soldiers at 12:30 on Saturday at HAX.

Carson has a plan to visit UCLA unofficially sometime after the EYBL.

The biggest participant for UCLA from outside of the west is Branden Dawson, the 6-5 prospect from Gary (Ind.) Lew Wallace, the #5-ranked small forward in the nation for 2011. Dawson will be playing with the AAU team, Mean Streets, along with Anthony Davis, the 6-9 prospect who is the #4 power forward in the nation from Chicago (Ill.) Perspectives Charter. Davis, right now, is one of the hottest recruits in the country, really blowing up this spring, and he's getting plenty of elite high major offers. We don't know if he has any interest in UCLA.

We haven't heard if Dawson and/or Davis plan to visit UCLA unofficially after the EYBL, but we do know that Dawson plans to attend the UCLA Camp in late June. We've also heard that UCLA is doing well with Dawson and has a real shot at him.

Playing for the AAU team, Each One Teach One, is Austin Rivers, the 6-4 prospect from Winter Park (Fla.) High School who is ranked the #1 shooting guard in the nation. Rivers, too, will visit UCLA unofficially sometime around the EYBL.

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