Hoops Recruiting -- UPDATED SUNDAY

Jordan McLaughlin

Head Coach Ben Howland returned to Los Angeles to take in a few local tournaments and watch some prospects, including 2014 point guard Jordan McLaughin, and two exceptional 2015 post prospects...

Coach Ben Howland returned from the Peach Jam in South Carolina Saturday morning and spent the day at the two Los Angeles tournaments.

He first was seen at the Fullcourt Press Cream of the Crop in Long Beach in the morning, watching New Orleans Elite, which features a few 2014 prospects, including Craig Victor, the #5-ranked power forward; Kelly Oubre, the 6-6 prospect who is the #19-ranked small forward, and Jordan Cornish, a 6-4, three-star shooting guard.

Howland then made it over to the Best of Summer Tournament in Anaheim, and caught some of Hoop Sessions, which features elite 2015 prospects Brodricks Jones and Chance Comanche, both 6-9 posts.

He then sat in to watch Prodigy Elite Red, with Jordan McLaughlin, the 5-11 junior point guard play two games, with a game by Double Pump Elite, featuring 2013 point guard Brandon Randolph, sandwiched in there.

Make no mistake, though: it's clear that Howland's primary intention Saturday was to watch McLaughlin.

The Coach then was seen back at the Cream of the Crop to catch the game of 2013 prospects Dakarai Allen, the 6-5 small forward, and Darin Johnson, the 6-4 shooting guard.

McLaughlin, again, displayed some talent that is truly unique for a player his age. He could very well be the most athletic 5-11 guard in the west for the last decade -- which is a big statement but just not hyperbole. As we've written before, McLaughlin has a unique blend of quickness, flexibility, bounce and balance to go along with great ball-handling and creativity that makes him near-impossible to stay in front of. He is so exceptional in weaving through defenders, never allowing his dribble to go more than a couple of feet off the ground, and then exploding to the rim.

Every once in a while, in doing this job, a prospect has a unique ability that makes it very fun to go out and watch, and that's the case with McLaughlin. He has top-ten national talent.

And the word is out on McLaughlin. Prodigy Elite Red isn't a high-profile AAU team, but the number of college coaches who are now in attendance at its games has risen considerably, all there to watch McLaughlin.

Jones and Comanche are two of the best post prospects in the west in recent years. While they still have a ways to go in their development, they are exactly what you'd want sophomore post prospects to look like -- very long, lanky, able to run and move well and exhibit good quickness for their size, with some good coordination, and looking very baby-faced still. Both remind you of Brandon Ashley, the 2012 prospect, from a few years ago -- looking very long but very young when he was a rising sophomore -- except that Comanche and Jones are probably two inches taller than Ashley was at the same stage. They have the same chance as Ashley, to end up top-ten national prospects.

Allen, as we've written, is a very good athlete with an excellent feel for the game. The one aspect that is holding him back at this point from getting a UCLA scholarship offer is his outside shooting touch, which looks fine but is inconsistent. In front of Howland, he came out aggressively, scoring 9 points in the first half, mostly off driving to the basket and drawing fouls, while also pulling in a few rebounds and dishing out a couple of assists, too, in the first half. He did, though, completely air-ball his first three-point attempt. Howland then left the gym and, of course, in the second half Allen hit a three-pointer.

Randolph looked solid in front of Howland, doing nothing too risky or too flashy, but looking physically well-built and athletic. We think it's a longshot, however, that UCLA will aggressively recruit Randolph.

Also on the Pump Team was Chris Sandifer, the 6-4 2014 wing, who had an impressive outing. He hit three three-pointers and looked long, quick and bouncy.

Darin Johnson kind of reminds you a more-athletic Arron Afflalo, but is also probably a better shooter than Afflalo was at the same stage. It's really unfair to compare anyone to Afflalo, because there has never been a kid coming out of the L.A. area who had a better work ethic and desire to succeed than Afflalo, but Johnson brings some of that same relentless energy to the court, on both ends. He hit four threes in the game Saturday night, and looked quick and athletic. Some reputable scouts consider him among the best couple of wings in the west for 2013.

The second July Evaluation Period ends today (Sunday), and Howland will almost certainly spend the last day at the two local L.A. tournaments.

He spent the first part of the Period at the Nike EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam in South Carolina, watching a long list of prospects. It's where UCLA assistant Phil Mathews still is.

One of the players at the Peach Jam that performed particularly well and is getting a huge amount of recruiting attention is Semi Ojeleye, the 6-6 forward from Ottawa (Kans.) High. Ojeleye received a scholarship offer from Duke right before the July Evaluation Periods when he took an unofficial visit to their campus, and the word is that Duke is the team to beat. UCLA is on him hard and hoping to get an official visit from him this fall.

UCLA is trying hard in recruiting other 2013 prospects that participated in the Peach Jam, namely, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, the 6-3 shooting guard (#42 nationally); Johnathan Williams, the elite 6-8 power forward (#18); Allerik Freeman, the 6-4 shooting guard (#46); Wayne Selden, the 6-4 small forward (#14); and Kendrick Nunn, the 6-2 shooting guard (#52).

As of right now, we aren't hearing that UCLA is leading for these prospects, but the Bruins have a chance to get official visits out of all of them.

UCLA is still trying with BeeJay Anya, the 6-8 prospect who is the #20 overall national prospect and the #1 center prospect in the nation for 2013.

Tyler Ennis, the point guard prospect who is #22 overall, we're hearing, still leans to Syracuse, with Louisville having the best chance to challenge. The word is that Ennis could verbally commit before he'd have a chance to visit UCLA officially.

The word is that Duke and Cal are the teams to beat for the 6-9 post player from Antioch (Calif.) Deer Valley, Marcus Lee.

Assistant Korey McCray was in Wisconsin, for the NY2LA Sports Summer Jam, where he was able to watch 2013 UCLA prospects Devin Williams, the 6-8 post (#80), 6-3 point guard Rysheed Jordan (#47), 6-8 center Karviar Shepherd (#49), and 6-4 point guard Roddy Peters (#73).

We've also heard that UCLA has made contact with Tim Quarterman, a 6-6 wing from Savannah (Georgia) Johnson. Quarterman is reportedly an athletic prospect that is now starting to get high-major attention. UCLA assistant Korey McCray, of course, has the connection with Quarterman's AAU program, the Atlanta Celtics.

As we've said, UCLA is doing well with Williams and is probably leading, with hometown Xavier the biggest competition.

UCLA is trying to get more heavily involved with Jordan and Peters, which was clear when they put in calls to both prospects after the first July Evaluation Period.

We've heard that things have cooled some with Shepherd, and there could be academic issues there.

UCLA is recruiting Jarell Martin, the 6-8 post from Louisiana (#11), but he couldn't be found in the second Period. He was supposed to play with New Orleans Elite in the Cream of the Crop, but was a no-show. We're also hearing from sources close to the situation that it could be academically challenging for him to get accepted into UCLA, and that LSU is probably the leader for him.

We're also hearing that Ishmail Wainright, the 6-5 forward (#37) who is sitting out July because of injury, has some academic issues that might keep some schools from recruiting him.

Isaac Hamilton, the 6-4 shooting guard from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, remains UCLA's prime wing target. Hamilton sat out the second July Evaluation Period after impressing many onlookers in the first Period.

The third July Evaluation Period begins Wednesday, the 22nd, and goes through Sunday, the 29th, with most of the UCLA recruiting attention being focused on the three tournaments in Las Vegas.

SUNDAY UPDATE:

UCLA assistants Scott Garson and Korey McCray were out in Los Angeles Sunday watching prospects on the last day of the second July Evaluation Period.

They watched 2014 point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who lost his first game of the day.

They also watched New Orleans Elite, with 2014 prospects, power forward Craig Victor, shooting guard Jordan Cornish and wing Kelly Oubre. 2013 post Jarell Martin was still a no-show.

They watched Dakarai Allen, the 6-5 wing, and Darin Johnson the 6-4 shooting guard from Play Hard Play Smart.

One of the elite wing prospects in the 2014 class in the west is Namon Wright, from Los Angeles Pacific Hills, who looked very good in front of the UCLA coaches today.

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