2012-2013 Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank: #1 Pac-12
UCLA Team Page
UCLA is back home at the friendly confines of the new and improved Pauley Pavilion. Last year they played across town in USC’s backyard. They did pretty well at “home” during the 2011-2012 campaign, but the home court advantage this season will be much, much better. The team should be much better too. With a handful of returning talent and, possibly, one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, Coach Ben Howland could be poised to take the Bruins back to the Final Four. There are many questions yet to be answered before UCLA will be a serious contender to be competing for a championship, but the talent could be there.
2011-12 Record: 19-14, 11-7
2011-12 Postseason: None
Coach: Ben Howland
Coach Record: 208-97 at UCLA, 376-196 overall
The newcomers deserve a lot of press, but first we need to talk about some of the players the new guys will be replacing. Lazeric Jones led UCLA with 13.5 points per game and added 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals. He did it all in the Bruins backcourt, including knocking down a team high 1.5 three-pointers per game. Jerime Anderson was also in the starting lineup for most of the 2011-2012 campaign. Anderson was never the scorer that Jones was, but he dished out 4.2 assists per game and only turned the ball over 1.8 times. That is one impressive ratio. Anderson was also a fine defender and had enough of an outside shot to keep the opposition honest. There is a pretty big list of other losses, but nobody really played much at all last season. De’End Parker and Brendan Lane have transferred to the West Coast Conference after a handful of games. Reeves Nelson only played in six contests last year. Matt DeMarcus, Kenny Jones and Tyler Trapani only saw a few minutes all season. Anthony Stover, a 6-10 center, was kicked out of the program for academic reasons after playing in 28 games for 8.3 minutes per contest. He was a great shot blocker, but was just not going to find many minutes at UCLA.
Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson are two of the best recruits in the nation. But at the moment their eligibility is in question as the NCAA does a little investigating. Their eligibility turns this from a good team to a great team. Muhammad is an amazingly talented wing who can attack the basket with the best of them. He also has a nice jump shot, making him a great all-around scorer. At 6-6 Muhammad will use his athleticism to effectively hit the glass and play some decent defense. Anderson is one of the most intriguing prospects in this class. He is really a 6-8 point guard, but his size and intelligence mean he can play anywhere on the floor. The Bruins could utilize him as a big shooting guard for the most part…at least for now. Offensively he would be a secondary ball handler and a dynamic scoring threat. On the other end of the floor he is just as versatile. Mostly known for his amazing rebounding skills, Anderson can also use his length to get into passing lanes and get in the face of the opposition. Larry Drew II, a transfer from North Carolina, will run the point. The Southern California native is back home to try and nab another national title. He is extremely quick and that will open up space for the rest of the team. With Drew II, Anderson and Muhammad on the perimeter, few teams can match the Bruins talent. Jordan Adams would garner a lot more attention if it were not for Muhammad and Anderson. The 6-5 wing could be the best shooter on the roster from day one. If that pans out, he will get plenty of playing time off of the bench. Tony Parker should be ready to play a role off of the bench as well. The 6-9, 275 pound center has some work to do before he is a dominate force in the paint in the Pac-12, but he is a very good talent who will start in a couple of years. Walk-on junior college transfer Sooren Derboghosian adds a little more size to the roster.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt will mostly rely on big man Joshua Smith and David and Travis Wear. Smith is a big man, listed at 6-10 and 305 pounds. If anything, that weight listing may be generous. Back in 2010-2011, Smith finished up his freshman campaign on fire. Last season though, he averaged just 17.2 minutes per game. Due to foul trouble and conditioning, Smith just could not be on the floor that often. With few experienced options that can play the five spot, Coach Howland needs Smith to boost up his playing time at least a little bit. When he was on the floor, Smith averaged 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds. Considering the amount of time he was on the floor, those are some impressive numbers. Not impressive is 3.2 fouls in 17.2 minutes. With Stover gone, Parker may need to be ready to step right into more minutes than Coach Howland hopes. However, not only is Parker probably ready to play minutes, even if he is not, the Wear twins can handle a few minutes in the post. Travis averaged 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds during their first season after transferring in from Chapel Hill, while David tallied 10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds. Travis is the better defender of the two when it comes to blocking shots and that may be the difference when it comes to who starts. But they should again see a similar amount of playing time. With Anderson’s versatility, he could end up spending some time at the four spot with one of the Wear’s at the five if things do not work out with Smith and Parker filling up all 40 minutes.
The backcourt will see a lot of the newcomers, but Tyler Lamb and Norman Powell are not going away. Lamb started 32 games during his junior campaign and Powell showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman, albeit very inconsistently. Lamb is a capable shooter and a pretty good rebounder for a shooting guard. His starting job will be in jeopardy even if Anderson is used in the frontcourt. That is because UCLA has such high hopes for Powell. He only averaged 17.8 minutes per game and tallied 4.6 points per game, but he will become a more consistent scorer at some point. Even if his offense does not take a big jump this year, Powell’s defensive tenacity will get him plenty of playing time. Coach Howland, if everybody is eligible and stays healthy, has a ton of talent and some very versatile pieces that can fit in wherever he needs. This is a team that can play big or play small and get up and down the floor. Whatever the matchup needs, UCLA has the weapons to do it.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Larry Drew II, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Kyle Anderson, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Shabazz Muhammad, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Travis Wear, Junior, Forward, 11.5 points per game
Joshua Smith, Junior, Center, 9.9 points per game
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#3 Shabazz Muhammad
#6 Kyle Anderson
#62 Joshua Smith
#83 Travis Wear
#97 David Wear
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#1 Shabazz Muhammad
#3 Kyle Anderson
#23 Tony Parker
#65 Jordan Adams