#30 UCLA Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

UCLA Bruins

Overall Rank: #30
Conference Rank: #5 Pac-12
#30 UCLA Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview
UCLA Team Page


For the third time in four seasons under Coach Cori Close, UCLA failed to make the NCAA Tournament. At least this time the Bruins went to the WNIT, albeit with a 13-18 overall record at the time. That hardly deserved a spot in the WNIT, at least based on the overall record. But UCLA proved that they belonged and they cruised through the WNIT and won the title. It was a nice tournament experience for the younger players, but they will be hoping for a different tournament in 2016.

2014-15 Record: 19-18, 8-10
2014-15 Postseason: WNIT
Coach: Cori Close
Coach Record: 72-60 at UCLA, 72-60 overall

The Bruins return their top three scorers in Nirra Fields, Jordin Canada and Kari Korver. The backcourt trio each averaged double digits in the scoring column and will probably do so again. Fields is one of the better players in the country and the 5-9 senior is poised for another big year. Fields averaged 15.0 points per game and added 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals. Her outside shot was inconsistent, yet that is the only flaw in her game. Speaking of inconsistent shooting, Canada made just three of her 23 attempts from beyond the arc. However, that is not what she does. The point guard dished out 4.4 assists per game and proved to be effective driving to the basket. Korver is the shooter on the team. She knocked down 74 three-pointers at a 41.3 percent clip. Incoming freshman Kennedy Burke is a quality shooter too and the big 6-1 guard could make a big splash right away. Guard Kelli Hayes did not play too much as a freshman, averaging 12.0 minutes per game, but she too can add a nice offensive spark off of the bench.

The frontcourt lost 6-4 center Corinne Costa and 6-3 center Luiana Livulo from a team that often struggled on the glass as it was. That puts the pressure on Kacy Swain, Lajahna Drummer and Monique Billings. Swain was a part-time starter as a junior, averaging 4.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Drummer, a 6-1 sophomore, has the most potential to turn into a frontcourt scoring threat. Drummer averaged 5.4 points per game and added 4.9 rebounds and all of that was in just 16.6 minutes per game. Billings is also a promising sophomore who proved to be a potential scoring threat during her freshman season. She is also pretty strong on the glass. There is a lot of potential here, but without a true scoring threat in the frontcourt, the Bruins will struggle again in the Pac-12.

Final Projection:
This is an important season for Coach Close. Back-to-back years without making the NCAA Tournament is not acceptable in Westwood. The backcourt trio of Fields, Canada and Korver can make this a very competitive team, but the young frontcourt needs to develop quickly if that little streak of missing the NCAA Tournament is going to end. With the potential Drummer, Billings and Swain possess, it is possible. Incoming freshman Ashley Hearn is an option as well. Like Burke, she is a talented freshman and widely considered one of the top 25 prospects in this class. Hearn will at least provide Coach Close with another potential option in the frontcourt and somebody will likely pan out and give the frontcourt a legitimate scoring threat and that means UCLA will get back to the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Jordin Canada, Sophomore, Guard, 11.8 points per game
Nirra Fields, Senior, Guard, 15.0 points per game
Kari Korver, Junior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Lajahna Drummer, Sophomore, Forward, 5.4 points per game
Kacy Swain, Senior, Forward, 4.2 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.1 (134th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.5 (237, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 39.9 (160, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.4 (105, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.3 (240, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.4 (89, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.8 (267, 9)
Rebound Margin: 1.4 (132, 7)
Assists Per Game: 12.2 (216, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 15.8 (146, 11)

Madness 2016 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#9 Nirra Fields

Madness 2015 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#18 Kennedy Burke
#24 Ashley Hearn


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