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May 31, 2012

Kline's Corner: West Coast Wings

In this week's edition of Kline's Corner, The Recruit Scoop answers five intriguing questions about the high school basketball recruiting scene - specifically focusing on West Coast wings Stanley Johnson , Kameron Chatman , Jabari Bird , Aaron Gordon and Shaqquan Aaron , who are all the top uncommitted wing/small forward prospects on the west coast following the commitment of Stephen Domingo to Georgetown.

Could Jabari Bird follow in his father's footsteps?
Coming off an unofficial visit to Cal following the forth session of the Nike EYBL in Oakland, Jabari Bird stayed in the Bay Area to visit his father's alma mater. Back in the 1970's, Bird's father played for the Golden Bears. Could the Oakland Soldiers' 6-foot-5 small forward - ranked No. 16 in the Rivals150 for the class of 2013 - end up at Cal? Mike Montgomery's squad has a great shot even with the entire Pac-12 as his main opponent. With the local feel of Cal, Bird could opt to stay home after he finishes his senior season at Salesian. "It was more interactive," Bird told BearTerritory.net. "The last time I was there, talking with the coaches and everything, they showed us the campus, and this time they took us on a little golf cart, led us around, saw the sights, and we hung out with a few of their players." He would be one of the faces of the program to go along with Marcus Lee and Elliot Pitts, who were on the visit with Bird during Memorial Day. Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Washington are also heavily involved, but the Golden Bears are making a strong push for Jabari Bird. Could he stay local in order to revive the program?

Does Arizona have an early lead for Shaqquan Aaron?
The No. 22 player in the class of 2014 didn't get a chance to play high school basketball this year due to California transfer rules, but Shaqquan Aaron continues to be one of the hottest commodities on the market. Aaron - a 6-foot-8 wing who transferred from Mater Dei to Taft - has not focused much on his recruitment outside of one unofficial visit a few months back to Arizona. The school that may be recruiting Aaron the hardest has locked him in as a priority for 2014. Aaron's inability to play this year ended up helping the Wildcats as Sean Miller constantly checked in on him during workouts and show his face frequently. "He said that in order for me to know that he wants me, he's going to have to show up to know that he wants me to go to his school," Aaron told GOAZCats.com back in April. "So wherever I go, he's going to be there." The Oakland Soldiers' star has seen his recruitment stay the same, recently, which really does give Arizona an advantage. If they want him though, they'll have to fight it out with UCLA, Kansas, UConn, California and a number of other strong programs from around the country.

Is Kameron Chatman the next great player out of Oregon?
While he may be transferring to Long Beach Poly in California for his junior season, 2014 6-foot-6 wing Kameron Chatman is a proud Oregon native by heart coming out of the Portland Jefferson program that produced current NBA Draft prospects Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross . The No. 44 sophomore in the Rivals50 is extremely talented as he can play like a guard by handling the ball, scoring on all cylinders and finding his open teammates. On Wednesday night, the Arizona Wildcats became a believer as they officially offered the ICP Portland AAU product. He also holds scholarships from Memphis, Oregon State, Washington and Oregon to go along with interest from UCLA and Marquette. Chatman loves these schools but has his eyes on the prize as he has wanted to hear from North Carolina for a number of years. With the Tar Heels having a number of available scholarships in the class of 2014, and starting to offer rising juniors, it is always possible that he could catch their eye this summer by chance. Whether the Tar Heels get involved or not, it appears that Kameron Chatman will be the next great player to come out of the Nike state.

Can anyone beat Washington for 5-star wing Aaron Gordon?
For months, the vibe around Aaron Gordon was that he would end up at Washington or Arizona, and possibly even Kentucky. Now, Lorenzo Romar's squad is pulling away, but it is still a bit early. That decision won't be made for a while, though. For starters, the No. 4 player in the Rivals150 for the class of 2013, suffered an injury that has kept him out until July. He also announced that his college decision won't come until the high school season, possibly afterwards so a late winter or early spring decision is imminent. Never the less, the 6-foot-7 small forward out of Archbishop Mitty in California, and Blake Griffin clone, has been open about who he likes in the college process. Washington is the clear favorite at this point with Oregon, Kentucky, UNLV and New Mexico in good shape, as well. All of the schools have offered, but with the addition of Nigel Williams-Goss as the future point guard of Washington come 2013, it gives Gordon even more reason to become a Husky, too. With Washington already on top, the addition of a 4-star point guard and a conference and coach that can get him to NBA lottery pick status within the first year or two, it will be tough for any other team to make up ground on Aaron Gordon.

Will Ben Howland's long term relationship to Stanley Johnson lead him to Westwood?
Stanley Johnson - the No. 18 player in the Rivals50 for the class of 2014 - continues to slay the competition week in and week out for his Mater Dei team and Oakland Soldiers AAU squad. The 6-foot-6 small forward has only been in high school for two years, yet UCLA coaches Ben Howland and Scott Garson have known him for three. The Bruins were arguably the first school to offer Johnson a college scholarship, which came during his eighth grade year. "Coach Ben Howland has been in my recruitment since eighth grade and I've known coach Garson since eighth grade too," Johnson told BruinSportsReport.com. "They're like family almost, so they're really good people and I really love that school a lot." Johnson is also being targeted by Missouri, Arizona, San Diego State, USC and Washington, among others. With that being said, he hopes to see who continues to show him a lot of love once the June 15th period rolls around where college coaches can make unlimited text messages and calls to rising juniors. With no early favorites out in the open, Johnson has taken a strong liking to UCLA and could visit when the time is right. Look for the Bruins to be involved in his recruitment until the end as incoming freshman Shabazz Muhammad would be a primary example of what Howland and staff could do for Johnson and his NBA Draft stock.

Kline's Corner will be a weekly post featuring a certain theme, region, city or trend in the high school basketball world and some questions and answers some people have been wondering about. To send questions, email Recruit Scoop publisher Alex Kline at AlexKlineBasketball@Yahoo.com.


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