Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bruins Done With 2008 Recruiting Class?

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA has compiled arguably the top recruiting class in 2008 with Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson, Malcolm Lee, and Drew Gordon, all top 50 nationally ranked players, verbally committed to the program.

With four elite recruits already coming to Westwood in 2008, should we expect to welcome a fifth? 

Considering the Bruins may lack some depth along the front line in 2008, its a definite possibility.

Incoming freshman big man Kevin Love is already touted as a potential lottery pick.  With center Lorenzo Mata graduating after next season, an early departure by Love would leave just Alfred Aboya (6'7) , James Keefe (6'8), and freshman Drew Gordon (6'9) as the only true post players in 2008.

As a result, its not surprising to learn the Bruin staff is looking closely at a number of available 2008 post players including: J'Mison Morgan (6'10, 265lb), Ralph Sampson (6'11, 235lb), and John Brandenburg (6'11, 225).

Whether UCLA will pursue an early verbal commitment from one of these players or perhaps take a chance on a late signing in spring (ala Russell Westbrook) depends on their comfort level in taking on a fifth recruit when they only have four certain scholarships available at the moment.

Currently UCLA has three available scholarships in 2008 as a result of early departures by Arron Afflalo (NBA) and Ryan Wright (transfer to Oklahoma) this last summer and the graduation of Lorenzo Mata. The fourth scholarship for 2008 will almost certainly come from the early departure of point guard Darren Collison who flirted with the idea of entering the NBA draft after last season.   Collison is already projected to be a lottery pick in next year's draft.

Where might the fifth scholarship come from?

Despite the fervent wishes of Bruin faithful, the scholarship may come from freshman Kevin Love.  He has
repeatedly stated he'd like to play at least two years in college, but
if the 6'10 post player dominates at this level as expected and the Bruins make a
strong run in the tourney, Love's mind set may change by season's end.

UCLA could also gain another scholarship through a transfer by a current player.  With the recent success of the basketball program, UCLA is once again attracting the interest of the nation's most elite players, subsequently, competition for playing time on Nell and John Wooden's Court has become more intense and some players may consider transferring elsewhere rather than riding the Bruin bench all season.

Another possibility is the early departure of forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.  The forward from Cameroon announced earlier this summer he had also considered making himself available for the NBA draft.  Although he did not have the type of sophomore year some had expected, Mbah a Moute still possesses the type of athleticism and tenacity to play in the professional ranks.  If he can develop a consistent midrange jump shot as a junior, he may be a candidate to leave early for the NBA next season.  Mbah a Moute will have plenty of opportunities to develop his perimeter game as he is slated to play major minutes at the wing next season.

The UCLA coaching staff has some tough recruiting decision to make, yet its the type of problem top schools regularly face each year.  And after four years into the Ben Howland-era, which includes  back-to-back Final Fours, the UCLA basketball program has undoubtedly regained its elite status.

(photo credit: AP)



At Jul 25, 2007, 1:40:00 AM, Anonymous clyde devins said...

Thanks for posting that because my buddies and I have been discussing exactly that - how can they offer anybody else - and some panic about the depth of the front line after next year. While fun to watch perhaps you can't win with 5 guards on the court - ok 4 guards and forward. I have a feeling we will all miss Mata when he is gone - very under appreciated it seems.

At Jul 25, 2007, 2:20:00 AM, Anonymous Eric said...

If a 5th player commits and Love stays, can they ask a player to revoke his scholarship in favor of the new recruit? Would they do that? And if so, what kind of message, if any, would that send to other possible recruits down the line in future years?

At Jul 25, 2007, 10:27:00 AM, Anonymous Don said...

Totally agree on Mata... we will miss him after next year... Front court depth could indeed be an issue if Love is a one and done, lets hope he is not... if they sign one of these 4 star centers, then that will help but would still want klove for 2 years.

At Jul 25, 2007, 10:59:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

BBR, u must be an assistant coach....
awesome insight!!

At Jul 25, 2007, 1:37:00 PM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

Scholarships are awarded to athletes on a year to year basis, no revocation is required if a school decides to award a scholarship to a new recruit versus a returning player.
With that said, its doubtful UCLA would have to go that route. One of the options listed in the article would likely occur first.
In the case of a player transfer, it might the case where the Bruin coaching staff tells a player he will realistically get limited or no playing time next season based upon his status on the roster with returning and incoming players. The player sees the writing on the wall and looks for a better opportunity elsewhere. Happens all the time.

At Jul 25, 2007, 6:13:00 PM, Anonymous clyde devins said...

I do hope it doesn't come to that - I think it would be a little lame to pull a scholarship from somebody who has contributed for a year or two or more. Bottom line for the program though is that they really do need to get more front court players in the pipeline. Worse case scenario is Love playing just one year - if he does - at the moment you would be without a true center presence OR trying to count on an incoming freshman to fill that role. I figure it best (depending on the big man comparison between the 08 and 09 classes) to bring in a big body even if somewhat of a project player in order to have some continuity to the program. Tough decisions that's for sure.

At Jul 26, 2007, 2:18:00 AM, Anonymous Eric said...

Thanks BBR for the reply.
So I guess we will find out more soon about J'mison Morgan. He is supposed to narrow his list of schools by the end of this month.
I read he had mentioned that playing time would be a factor. I think that would help UCLA. With Love probably playing 2 years at most and Mata graduating this year, he should have plenty of opportunities to play on UCLA's front line.

At May 23, 2008, 5:52:00 AM, Anonymous BM said...

Morgan just announced UCLA as his choice.


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