Commentary

Week in Review: UCLA starts on 2010 class

Originally Published: November 30, 2007
By Joel Francisco | Scouts Inc.

After securing the No. 1 2008 class in ESPN's recruiting rankings, Ben Howland and his staff have tapped into the Class of 2010 to nab one of the top five prospects on the West Coast. Kendall Williams, a 6-2 point guard prospect out of Los Osos High in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., chose the Bruins over Duke, Washington and a host of other schools.

[+] EnlargeBen Howland
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesBen Howland has brought UCLA back among the college hoops dominant programs, and he's given the students something to cheer about again.
Williams is an elite prospect with a tremendous upside due to his lengthy frame and broad shoulders. He plays with savvy and skill (great pull-up) well beyond his years and reveals confidence that is rarely seen in a player his age. At this juncture, he is more of a combo-guard (has a knack to score) than a true point, but he has demonstrated enough clever playmaking ability to warrant that point guard label.

Williams's commitment comes in the aftermath of UCLA signing its elite 2008 class (Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson, Malcolm Lee and Drew Gordon) that is chock full of perimeter talent and toughness.

By the time Williams arrives in Westwood, the aforementioned prospects will be entering their junior campaigns. Thus, the likelihood of Williams coming in and starting would be a remarkable achievement, unless of course the abovementioned trio develops enough to opt out of their final two years for the NBA. At this juncture, I only foresee Holiday making the jump, though Anderson and Lee have significant upsides as well.

We can only speculate what the Bruins roster will look like a few years from now, but one thing is for sure -- Howland has taken two teams to the Final Four with above-average talent. With the top-rated 2008 class due to arrive in Westwood next season and the addition of Williams in a few years, Howland is building a program that should achieve the "dynasty" label sooner rather than later.

Ware to make immediate impact at Long Beach State

With a roster void of talent, first year coach Dan Monson can look forward to penciling 5-7 Caspar Ware (Cerritos, Calif./Gahr) into the starting lineup for the 2008-09 season. Originally, I was skeptical with Ware's commitment to the 49ers for a few reasons -- his size, jump shot and decision-making because he plays too fast.

However, in the past couple of months, Ware has shown a dramatic improvement in his jump shot. He gets great lift on it and is consistent with it either off the bounce and/or in transition. In addition, he has a quick release and possesses the strength and athleticism to get it off in traffic.

Although his shot selection and decision-making are questionable at times, under the tutelage of Monson and his staff, Ware should make immediate adjustments in his game and eventually start for the 49ers in the 2008-09 season.

Redondo Beach Pacific Shores Tournament notes

• Though it's early, 6-9 junior Renardo Sidney (Los Angeles/Fairfax) is clearly establishing himself -- due to a more concerted effort at both ends -- as one of the most dominating forces in high school basketball. Although his post skills need some polishing, his passing ability is quite good for a player his size.

• The biggest surprise at the Redondo Pacific Shores tournament this week was the emergence of super sleeper, 6-7 junior Alex Osborne (Los Angeles/Pacific Hills). He has a significant upside with a lengthy frame and huge feet. In addition, he displayed the necessary skills and savvy to be an outstanding four at the mid-major level.

• Gardena, Calif./Serra has an impressive freshman in 6-8 Kevin Johnson. He has an impressive frame with broad shoulders, long arms and some of the best hands I've seen on a young big man. He isn't the bounciest post prospect, but he finished around the basket with relative ease.

• One of the better scorers in the event was 6-4 sophomore Kurt Davis (Lakewood, Calif./Artesia). He needs to extend his range on his jump shot, but he possesses a quick first step to the basket as well as very solid pull-up out to 15 feet.

• Da'Shawn Gomez, a 6-0 junior out of Inglewood, Calif., is a solid point guard prospect for the low mid-major level. Although he needs to continue to tighten up his jump shot, he is a menace to stop in the open court and makes unselfish decisions most of the time.

• Georgetown commitment 6-6 junior Hollis Thompson (Los Angeles/Loyola) continues to show why he is one of the top 10 prospects in the West Coast Class of 2009. His jump shot looks to be much improved, and he is quite the bouncy athlete around the basket.

• A couple of prospects from Gardena, Calif. who have junior college written all over them are 6-6 Aaron Edwards (Stacey Augmon type) and 6-4 Jonathon Phillips.

• One of the most improved prospects in the West Coast Class of 2009 is 6-5 Solomon Hill (Los Angeles/Fairfax). He reminds me of a bouncier Wendell Wright from Lakewood, Calif./Mayfair, a Loyola Marymount signee.

• If 6-7 junior D'Angelo Scott (Lynwood, Calif.) develops a consistent jump shot, he has the overall ability and length to play the three at the mid high-major level.

Joel Francisco has been a high school basketball scout for 15 years. He has written for Hoopscoop Magazine and Basketball Times and organized "So-Cal's Finest," his own scouting service.

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