Thursday, July 27, 2006

What's Up Next For The Bruins

By Bruin Basketball Report

With the long-awaited verbal commitment from Lake Oswego's Kevin Love finally secured, what further recruiting action can we expect from UCLA in this offseason?

Will Kyle Singler follow his friend Love to Westwood and commit to UCLA?

Barring an unexpected player transfer this season, UCLA has allocated all their available scholarships (13 total) to current and incoming players.

At this point, the only way UCLA could offer another player in the 2007 recruiting class is if they went over the scholarship limit with the knowledge a current Bruin player was leaving early for the NBA next year.

It's been suggested junior Arron Afflalo, or even sophomore Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, might declare early for the NBA next season, but as we've learned from Afflalo's own journey this last summer, there is no certainty in the NBA evaluation process.

With this in mind, it would not be a complete surprise if both Afflalo and Mbah a Moute were playing alongside Love and challenging for the NCAA championship in 2007-08.

Consequently, it would seem improbable an elite player such as Singler would put himself in an ambiguous scholarship situation when he is being heavily recruited by other elite programs such as Duke, Kansas, and Washington who have scholarships to offer.

As big a coup as it would be for the UCLA program to get Singler, UCLA already appears set at the forward wing position.

With returning players Josh Shipp and Michael Roll, incoming freshman James Keefe vying for playing time at the forward wing, as well as verbal commitments from Nikola Dragovic (2006) and Chace Stanback (2007), the Bruins have excellent options at the position for the next few years.

More likely UCLA Bruin head coach Ben Howland and his staff are focusing on the talent laiden 2008 recruiting class.

With at least two scholarships available in 2008, and perhaps more if other Bruin players opt early for the NBA (i.e. Kevin Love), the Bruins will have an opportunity to add numerous elite players.

From the 2008 class, the Bruins are heavily recruiting point-guard candidates Jerime Anderson, Larry Drew Jr., and Malcolm Lee - all three players recently attended the UCLA advanced skills camp at Pauley.

Additionally, the Bruins are very interested in big men from this class including power forwards Luke Babbit from Galena and Drew Gordon from Mitty.

However, the biggest catch in the 2008 class may be Jrue Holiday, a 6'3 combo guard from Campbell Hall. The Bruins reportedly have already offered Holiday.

Current scholarship breakdown:

2007 Class: 2
Kevin Love and Chace Stanback

Freshmen: 3
James Keefe, Russell Westbrook, and Nikola Dragovic

Sophomores: 6
Josh Shipp (redshirt), Darren Collison, Michael Roll, Ryan Wright, Alfred Aboya, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Juniors: 2
Lorenzo Mata and Arron Afflalo

Seniors: None

Other Bruin Notes: The UCLA athletic department recently announced both walk-ons Nican Robinson and Kelvin Kim will not return to the team next season. Reportedly, Robinson wants to attend school closer to home and will transfer to a northern California school, while Kim is interested in attending another southern California school where he can play more minutes.



At Jul 27, 2006, 3:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keefe a wing? Interesting...based on the little I have seen of him and all of the write-ups about him, I thought James would be more of a 4.

Keep up the great work BBR! We appreciate your insight on the greatest basketball program ever!

At Jul 27, 2006, 4:53:00 PM, Blogger BBR said...

Keefe's game is suited for both the 3/4 at this point in his career. But of course with Dragovic coming aboard, and with Shipp garnering most of the minutes at the 3 - the available minutes may dictate that Keefe plays primarily at the 4 this season.

Keefe was included in the list to demonstrate the different options the Bruins have at the position.

Keefe is a strong post-up defender and good rebounder, he should excel down low on defense as he gains more strength. Although not a shot blocker, he plays excellent position defense and has the size to change shots.

Offensively though, Keefe is more effective facing up from the wing, although he gets his share of points by haveing a great nose for the ball (ala LRAM).

He will need to develop his low post game over the course of his career at UCLA to excel at the 4, but at this point he is suited for both 3/4.



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