UCLA Basketball's Recruiting Trends Under Ben Howland

Bumped. A thought provoking post well worth the read. GO BRUINS. -N

Wanted to share some observations in response to muircoach's post on the state of UCLA basketball, in particular on his point on recruitment:

Our recruiting is a joke. I don’t care how many 5-star guys we have. For proof, JK was a McDonalds All-American. For the most part, those teams are a joke. They are popularity contests. You want to see good players, go watch CITY basketball games. Why aren’t we any longer getting guys in the inner city/CITY schools, or the tough SF Valley CITY schools, or the Long Beach schools. No more. UCLA used to own the inner city, whether it was private or public schools. Where are the Tyus Edney’s, the Trevor Wilson’s, the Jordan Farmar’s, the David Greenwoods, the Aaron Afflalo’s. I could go on! We used to own L.A. Don’t tell me the talent isn’t there. It is. We just don’t go after them, or we don’t value them, or they don’t value us because we don’t show the interest. Instead, we are going after the O.C. guys, the pretty boys from the pretty programs. USC is getting the inner city guys. The "tougher than crap" inner city guys who have an edge and won’t back down from anybody. They represent Los Angeles. Instead, all of those guys (Larry Drew for example) are going somewhere else where their style of play is appreciated.

We've definitely had most of our success recruiting from the inner city/city schools, valley schools, long beach, and I'll even say that our San Bernardino/Riverside county schools have treated us well. I'm going to classify City as public Inner City / LA City + Long Beach schools. Valley are again public schools in the San Fernando Valley. All other definitions are public schools unless otherwise stated.

One interesting note is that Ben has copied the same 4-year pattern. 2004 he pulled in 5 players. In 2008, he did the same. 2005 he brought in another 5, and in 2009 he did the same. Three players in 2006, the same so far for 2010. Obviously, the challenges of maintaining a program are very different now, and it will be interesting to see how CBH adapts. Let's take a look back after the jump.

Jordan Farmar - Taft High School - Valley
Arron Afflalo - Centennial High School - City
Josh Shipp - Fairfax Senior High School - City
Lorenzo Mata-Real - South Gate Senior High School - City
DeAndre Robinson - Martin Luther King Jr High School - Riverside

Darren Collison
- Etiwanda High School - San Bernardino
Ryan Wright - Loyola Catholic SS - Out of country - Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Alfred Aboya - Tilton School - Out of state - Private school in NH
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - Monteverde Academy - Out of state - Private school in FL
Mike Roll - Aliso Niguel High School - Orange County

Russell Westbrook
- Leuzinger High School - City
James Keefe - Santa Margarita Catholic High School - Orange County
Nikola Dragovic  - Out of country - Serbia

Kevin Love - Lake Oswego High School - Out of state - OR
Chace Stanback - Fairfax Senior High School - City

Jrue Holiday
-Campbell High School - Private school in Los Angeles
Malcolm Lee - John W. North High School - Riverside
Drew Gordon - Archbishop Mitty High School - San Jose
Jerime Anderson - Canyon High School - Orange County
J'mison Morgan - South Oak Cliff High School - Out of state - TX

Tyler Honeycutt
- Sylmar Senior High School - Valley
Reeves Nelson - Modesto Christian - Private school in Central Valley
Brendan Lane - Rocklin High School - Central Valley
Mike Moser - Grant High School - Out of state - OR
Anthony Stover - Windward School - Private school in Los Angeles

Josh Smith - Kentwood High School - Out of state - WA
Tyler Lamb - Mater Dei High School - Orange County
Lazeric Jones - JUCO - Out of state - IL

The jury is still out on our latest class, but I think the trend is pretty obvious… our favorite Ben Ball Warriors have predominantly come from the City, Valley, or out of state. Our out of country recruits haven’t fared so well (note: PAA and LRMAM went to school here first). Our Orange county Recruits are no more than role players. Kind of confirms what a lot of scouts have been saying really - soft OC players etc. 

In fact, looking at it again, our toughest players and leaders came from the same places. Look at LMR… he wasn’t the most talented big on the offensive end, but no one questions his toughness and effort, particularly on D. And you probably won’t find more tenacious defenders and competitors than AA and RW, who both came from inner city schools. And so far, seeing TH, it looks like the Valley is still giving us talent. Orange County has been nothing but repeated duds. I'm hoping that Tyler Lamb is the real deal though and breaks this trend.

So breaking it all down:

  1. Mike Roll, James Keefe, Jerime Anderson are all recruited from Orange County. Yeah... And just to take a look at other potential OC recruits we've looked at recently, the Wear twins at UNC, haven't been particularly impressive either. Granted, they're just freshman playing on a team with a lot of talent, so it will be interesting to see if this Orange County problem isn't just confined to us...
  2. How much international scouting does CBH actually do? That's an interesting question, because we have players that didn't play ball in the US - Ryan Wright and Dragovic. Wright transferred (I forgot why), and I haven't seen if he's improved or what not at Oklahoma. Dragovic... 'nuff said. To tie into the point on vetting these players, if it was possible to miss on Drew Gordon's attitude problems while he was in CA, just how much do we know about these international players? Was the recruitment of Dragovic because "someone said he was good" or did we actually investigate him deeply? My bet is on the former... and to me, that's playing with fire.
  3. Our out of state recruits have treated us quite well overall. PAA, LRMAM, KL obviously. It's too early to tell with JMM and MM. However, given that other top teams in the nation do fine with recruits not from CA, we need to create more of an out-of-state presence. 
  4. Getting Josh Smith is hopefully a sign that we'll continue to pull great talent from the Pacific Northwest... we've obviously done quite well with KLove. Some great players in recent years have been from up there, such as Spencer Hawes and Abdul Gaddy.

I saved this last point (#5) for itself. This is an important one to look at. All of our current players (other than Roll) were from the 2006-2009 recruitment classes. Looking at our in-state players, I noticed this: only THREE players are from the public inner city/city school/valley/long beach types of players: they are Russel Westbrook, Chance Stanback, and Tyler Honeycutt. We all know what RW has done. We all see that TH has immense promise and talent. The other is Chace Stanback.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at Chace Stanback's game log and was saddened to see that he's gotten tremendously better at UNLV. Granted, that's against UNLV's competition - but then again, they've arguably had a tougher OOC schedule, and the PAC-10 stinks too. Also looking at the log, he's steadily improved his play time from around 20 minutes per game to now where he's had 3 consecutive 30+ minute games. He's in the starting rotation, and he's the team's leading rebounder. Add on the fact that his playtime and overall game seems to be improving, his current line of 9.4 ppg and 5.6rpg is sure to improve as the season goes on. And just to be more of a dagger, he can actually hit free throws.

Why do I bring that up? Because he's one of those players from the Fairfax pipeline we've had, but he has unfortunately left the team when he would certainly have been a big asset for us. Maybe someone can remind me of the circumstances around it, but it is disappointing to see him succeed elsewhere knowing what we need right now.

Other players to look at that we recruited but didn't get or didn't pursue over the last few years: James Harden of Artesia HS (City). We know what he did.

Also there was Larry Drew II. After being a backup point guard (and even as a backup to the national champion, he was given 9.6 mpg, far more than our freshman lately get) - and despite some youth problems, he's shooting 47% on the season while average 8.4ppg and 6.4apg. Remember where he was from? Taft High School, the same as Jordan Farmar... another Valley product.

Another player we lost from our own backyard, another UNC player... Deon Thompson of Torrance High School (put that under the City or Long Beach category) at 14.9 ppg and 7rpg in his senior season. And for another kick in the groin, we have Alex Stepheson, who went to UNC then transferred to USC due to his ailing father - 10.2 ppg and 7.9 rpg. He was from Harvard-Westlake, a private school on the border of LA city and the Valley. And just to add more pain to this entire situation, these guys were all in the 06 class... the one where we brought in Keefe (who at least tries) and Dragovic *gag* 

I know that academic standards make it hard to get a lot of the people named, but it is interesting to see what has happened, and it's pretty interesting the trend in what has and hasn't provided us the talent we want

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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