Top 2011 Basketball Targets

UCLA has a unique situation with the 2001 class -- limited scholarship availability and a definite need in the backcourt. So, here are the small handful of prospects UCLA has already offered a scholarship and is a hard target for them in the class of 2011...

We've written before many times about the unique situation UCLA has with the 2011 class.

It very well could have no scholarships to give out to the class.

The 2011 class will be freshmen in the fall of 2011, and as of right now there is only one scholarship available for that year – that's if everyone remains on the roster who is currently.

And UCLA is trying to give out that last scholarship to another 2010 recruit.

Remi Barry, the 6-7 small forward who visited UCLA officially in May, could very well take the last scholarship available. He is also visiting Arizona State and St. John's, so it's by no means a done deal.

Of course, as we've written before, scholarships could become available. Players could leave the program, either by going pro early or by transfer.

But even if a player, or multiple players, did leave, you wouldn't know it until the spring of 2011. That would put UCLA and Ben Howland in a precarious position of having to recruit for the 2011 class now, through the evaluation period in July, and all the way up to the signing period in November, without knowing definitively if there are, indeed, scholarships available. We've been informed that UCLA is going to recruit the 2011 class like there are scholarships available, and would take verbal commitments from its elite recruiting targets. But then there's the question: Would UCLA have its verbal commitments sign National Letters of Intent in November without knowing if it had scholarships open for them?

We definitely do know, though, that UCLA will go after perimeter players in the 2010 class, and understandably. With the commitment of David Wear and Travis Wear, the 6-9 transfers from North Carolina, UCLA is pretty well-stocked in the frontcourt for some time, even if one or maybe two frontcourt players happened to transfer.

There are a number of 2011 recruits that, then, fall under the category of elite-guys-UCLA-would-take-commitments-from-and-find-a-scholarship-for-later.

Now, this isn't a comprehensive list of players UCLA is recruiting for 2011, but the elite, primary targets that UCLA would absolutely take, even given its scarce scholarship situation.

Austin Rivers, 6-3 combo guard, Winter Park (Fla.) High. Rivers, who has a UCLA scholarship offer, is ranked as the #1 shooting guard in the country (and the #4 prospect overall), but he's considered a point guard by many college programs. He had committed to Florida early on but opened up his recruitment, and now the word is Duke could be the big contender. He was in Los Angeles for the Nike EYBL over Memorial Day weekend, and he planned to stay a couple of days longer to meet up with his father, Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Boston Celtics, who arrived in Los Angeles to play in the NBA Championship, which starts Thursday. The Celtics are, in fact, practicing at Pauley Pavilion, and the younger Rivers was going to then take an unofficial visit to UCLA's campus.

While UCLA could be a longshot for Rivers, there are some things to consider. Doc Rivers is not a crazy, deluded father who is blind to what's best for his son. He is friends with Howland, and will certainly recognize that Howland has a history of putting point guards in the NBA. UCLA is probably indeed a longshot but there might be a better chance than observers might think.

Jahii Carson, 5-11 point guard, Mesa (Ariz.) High. Carson has really come on this spring to establish himself as the best point guard in the west, and one of the best in the country. He had committed to Oregon State early on, mostly because of a connection between his AAU team and the OSU program, but he's now opened up his recruitment, and high-major programs are now on him. UCLA, in fact, has offered Carson a scholarship. He took an official visit to UCLA over the Memorial Day weekend, and he has expressed a big interest in UCLA, saying that Westwood would definitely be one of his official visits. There might be some influences that could steer Carson away from UCLA, but Carson might end up being such a big recruit that those influences might not matter. You would think Arizona would be a big contender, but we haven't necessarily heard that they are.

Norman Powell, 6-2 shooting guard from San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln. The ultra-athletic Powell is in the process of going viral nationally, having been hyped only on the west coast before this last weekend when he played in the Bob Gibbons tournament in North Carolina. It's pretty easy to anticipate that he's going to get bombarded with attention from big-named programs across the country. But then again, coaches are now not allowed to go to tournaments during spring so, even though he did well in Gibbons' tournament, very few coaches – and probably none from outside of the west – have seen him yet. It gives UCLA a big advantage actually, in the fact that they did go down to his high school during the spring contact period to see him. He's going to take an unofficial visit to UCLA tomorrow (Thursday) and while we don't expect a verbal commitment to be in the works, UCLA and Howland will be trying very hard to make more in-roads in the direction of a commitment. At the very least, it works greatly to UCLA's advantage to already be on him before most college coaches can actually see him in a tournament in July.

Branden Dawson, 6-6 small forward from Gary (Ind.) Lew Wallace. Dawson, the #16-ranked player in the nation, is an intriguing prospect. He's probably the best rebounder for his size in the country, and very well might be the best rebounder regardless of size. He is a typical Howland type of guy, well-built, who plays hard and likes to rebound. While he is, though, rated as a small forward by, after seeing him in the Nike EYBL this last weekend in Los Angeles, he looks to be more of a four man. UCLA has offered him and would certainly take a commitment from him, but it would be interesting to see how he'd fit into UCLA's roster, one in which fours are stacked up. He does have some quickness for his size so he very well might be able to guard college threes. He has some extended family in Los Angeles, attended UCLA's camp last summer, and could again this summer, so UCLA has a legit shot with him.

Quinn Cook, 5-11 point guard from Hyattsville (Maryland) DeMatha Catholic. Cook is ranked the #3 point guard in the nation and the #19 player overall. He has offers from some of the biggest programs in the country, like Kansas, North Carolina, Georgetown and Kentucky, as well as the Bruins. He has some very close family in the Los Angeles area, thus the reason why UCLA is a consideration. But we're hearing the Bruins are actually a serious consideration, and it's just not a case of an east coast kid paying lip service to UCLA and would never actually consider going there. Cook recently said that UCLA is among the three schools he's been hearing from the most, the other two being Arizona and Wake Forest. He'll be in town this weekend for the Pangos Camp, and the plan is for him to take an unofficial visit to UCLA's campus after the camp.

Josh Richardson, 6-5 wing from Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe. Richardson is the only player we've included on this list without a UCLA scholarship offer, but we included him since we think there's a very good chance he's going to get one. Richardson isn't very well known, even though he has appeared on some national top 100 lists. He has, though, been impressive this spring, and looked particularly good this last weekend in the Nike EYBL. While they were in town, Richardson's parents visited UCLA and the word is that it went very well. Richardson, a good student, wants to be a doctor, and the parents were impressed with UCLA's medical school reputation. Richardson plans to attend the UCLA camp later this month and it's a good bet he could earn a UCLA offer at that time.

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