The math is about to get tricky for Steve Alford.
Technically, the UCLA basketball coach doesn’t have any scholarships to give heading into the national signing period that starts Wednesday. Alford’s roster comprises two juniors, three sophomores and eight freshmen, meaning in theory it already has the maximum 13 scholarships allotted for the 2019-20 season.
The crucial phrase, of course, being “in theory.”
UCLA figures to lose at least a handful of players to the NBA draft in June, opening an equal number of spots. The Bruins have nonbinding commitments from Camarillo High forward Jaime Jaquez, Wichita (Kan.) Sunrise Christian High combo guard Grant Sherfeld and Santa Margarita High small forward Jake Kyman.
The three-man class is currently ranked No. 24 nationally and No. 3 in the Pac-12 Conference by 247sports.com, whose rankings take into account both the quantity and quality of players.
That ranking could rise if UCLA lands any of the high-profile recruits it’s still chasing. The Bruins remain in the running for shooting guard Cassius Stanley, center Trayce Jackson-Davis, small forward Keion Brooks and power forwards Jaden McDaniels and Zeke Nnaji. Stanley, the standout from Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, has UCLA among his finalists along with Oregon and Kansas, according to Josh Gershon, a national recruiting analyst for 247sports.com.
“I think he’s probably the most likely player they could add,” Gershon said of Stanley and the Bruins, “but for the most part I would say the class is somewhat settled unless someone emerges in the spring or they pull a surprise on one of these last remaining guys.
“I’m sure the UCLA coaching staff would love to finish strong and reel in one of these five-stars to give the class just a little more star power at the top.”
Gershon said the jewel of the class as it stands is Jaquez, a 6-foot-7 small forward who could also play power forward as part of a small-ball lineup. Jaquez is a multitalented player who rebounds well and is excellent at attacking the basket.
Sherfeld is a 6-2 combo guard who brings toughness and scoring along with the ability to defend either guard spot, and the 6-6 Kyman is a pure three-point shooter.
Alford cannot comment on high school players until they sign letters of intent. He could have more than three players to discuss by the time his team lands its final newcomer.