The good news is there are some reasons to believe that UCLA is back to being a national recruiting force. McCray and Matthews have been focusing on the position of need and arguably the most important position in college basketball today Point Guard. And when you think of the two years that UCLA missed the NCAA tournament recently they have one thing in common, Point Guard Jerime Anderson.
Now there is some signs this problem is well on its way to being fixed. Larry Drew and Kyle Anderson should be good "point" players in 2013. But Drew is graduated after this season and and any top five recruit, like Kyle Anderson, now has to be considered a pleasant surprise if they come back for their sophomore year. So Point Guard remains a top priority.
As we have written UCLA is leading for Washington State based Zach Lavine, who uniquely may be out growing the position. Zach may be a Point Guard but he also may be a combo. Regardless he is a great get if he commits and a sign that recruiting is on the right track. But he is not enough at the Point Guard position.
But recent recruiting shows some of the more interesting aspects of recruiting high school kids and while there is reason for optimism, there is also reason for concern.
UCLA is also doing well for Oklahoma based Stevie Clark. Clark is a Point Guard in part because he is 5"8". He is a great shooter and scorer who needs to work on his "decision making". He was supposed to visit UCLA yesterday as he is a good student who could reclassify and miss his senior year:
Stevie Clark, the 5-10, athletic, sharp-shooting point guard from the 2013 class, could get re-classified and plans on visiting UCLA next week...
It did not happen and I personally think this is a good thing. Why?
Remember what happen the last time UCLA recruited a smallish kid who reclassified to play Point Guard last minute. Matt Carlino wanted to come to UCLA to learn point guard, it was his stated reason. UCLA incredible success developing point guards for the pros means players want to come UCLA and play for Howland.
Carlino got to camp and Howland decided he was not a Point Guard. The kid hardly played and left UCLA. Now in the failed effort to nail UCLA recruiting, the infamous Sports Illustrated article, said Matt left because of Reeves Nelson. This is in no doubt partially true but he also left because of his stated reason that he was not playing. Moreover not playing even backup Point Guard over Jerime Anderson. He knew if he could not beat out Jerime, who was at that moment was at one of the low arcs of his roller coaster career, he was not going to play.
Now back to today. If Clark came last minute, where would he have fit in? Would he beat out a fifth year senior in Larry Drew II who has practiced with the team for a year? Would he beat out 6'3" athletic sophomore Norman Powell as a good Point Guard defender? And of course Kyle Anderson will effectively be the Point Guard on offense at least some of the time. How would a kid deal with giving up his senior year of high school to likely be a bench warmer?
Unless Kyle's injury is more serious than we know, it seems there is no way Stevie sees the court and it looks like a recipe for disaster and another problem last minute recruit. Don't forget that in addition to Carlino other last minute recruits of De'End Parker and Bobo Morgan did not work out.
While another Point player is need for 13-14, I like UCLA's approach to Parker Jackson Cartwright more. UCLA first offered Parker his Freshman Year. Parker is a true Point Guard and not just because he is small, as ESPN writes:
Jackson-Cartwright, despite his size, can dominate the game at both ends. He has a mature game for his age and does a terrific job of managing a game and knows when he needs to score to help his team. He changes speeds very well and he has a terrific. . .
It is safe to say UCLA has done their homework on PJC, from a ridiculious named Arizona website:
PGU: Recruiting wise, who's coming at you the hardest?
PJC: Definitely UCLA. They've been there since day one and they are always checking up on me. All the schools that have offered me check up on me though, but UCLA's really been there.
Parker is a player that would symbolize a return to local dominance. This is a guy every UCLA fan should want (and who better to mentor him them Tyus Edny)
Scout.com has expanded its 2014 rankings from 25 to 75 and with 50 more players ranked, 12 total West Coast prospects are now nationally rated in the class.
Heading the list at #20 is Los Angeles Loyola point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, a player who has long been on the radar but has played so well lately that it was impossible to continue to keep him out of the Top 25, despite his 5-foot-7 height.
"Parker's feel and knowledge of the game is as good as it gets," says Scout.com national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels. "To top it off, he's improved his mid-range game, which enhances him as a prospect
While UCLA may have missed on Stevie Clark for this year, I do not think that is a bad thing. I would like it more if they confirm Lavine and hit on a recruit they have followed for years like PJC.