#31 UCLA Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

UCLA Bruins
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #31
Conference Rank: #3 Pac-12
UCLA bounced back from their disappointing 2015-16 season in a big way last year, winning 31 games and sporting the nation’s top offense. Freshman phenom Lonzo Ball was the driving factor, and the Bruins will have to attempt to continue their success with Ball now in the NBA. UCLA loses their top four scorers from a year ago, but head coach Steve Alford has another top recruiting class joining the team this season. The Bruins will almost certainly take a step back from their success last year, but UCLA should still find themselves safely in the NCAA Tournament picture.
2016-17 Record: 31-5, 15-3
2016-17 Postseason:
NCAA Tournament
Steve Alford
Coach Record:
96-45 at UCLA, 559-280 overall
Who’s Out:
First team All-American Lonzo Ball headlines the losses for the Bruins. Ball was one of the most exciting players in the nation and was the driving force behind UCLA’s success last year. Ball averaged 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and led the nation in assists with 7.6 per game. TJ Leaf, Ball’s fellow freshman phenom, has also departed to the NBA. Leaf led the Bruins in scoring with 16.3 points while also notching 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. Coach’s son Bryce Alford has graduated after playing 141 career games for UCLA. Alford’s stats dropped some with the freshman arrivals, but he still made the All-Pac-12 first team along with Ball and Leaf. Alford graduated with the most three-pointers made in UCLA history. Isaac Hamilton rounds out the top four scorers that have departed. Hamilton averaged 14.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game as a senior. All four players were in the top-20 in Pac-12 scoring, so the Bruins have plenty of production to replace this year. Lastly, Ike Anigbogu elected to enter the NBA Draft after just one year at UCLA. Anigbogu averaged 4.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 13.0 minutes per game.
Who’s In:
Head coach Steve Alford has reloaded his team with a new batch of top recruits. Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes headline the new additions as a pair of five-star recruits. Both players were top-25 prospects nationally and ranked in the top-5 of their respective positions. Hands is a point guard from California and is a scoring machine, averaging 29 points per game as a senior. Wilkes is a 6-8 forward from Indianapolis who can do a little bit of everything on the floor. UCLA also adds a couple of four-star forwards, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill. Riley was a top-50 prospect while Hill was ranked inside the top-75 prospects. Chris Smith adds to the frontcourt additions as a three-star, 6-8 forward who was a top-150 prospect. Lastly, UCLA will have Lonzo’s brother, LiAngelo Ball, who was a three-star guard.
Who to Watch:
UCLA won’t be completely rebuilding as they have a few reliable players returning. Aaron Holiday was one of the top sixth men in the nation last year, averaging 12.3 points, 4.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds off the bench. Holiday will have to prove he can continue to play at a high level with a much bigger role this season. Thomas Welsh will also be more heavily relied on as a senior this year. Last season, Welsh led the Bruins in rebounding (8.7) and blocks (1.3) while adding in 10.8 points per game. UCLA will happily welcome back Prince Ali, who redshirted last season with a knee injury. Ali is an athletic guard who averaged 3.9 points and 1.1 rebounds in 11.8 minutes per game as a freshman. Ali was a top-50 recruit two years ago and could be an X-factor for the Bruins as a sophomore. Alex Olesinski also redshirted last season with an injury after playing in 23 games as a freshman. Gyorgy Goloman will be a senior this year after averaging 3.7 points and 2.4 rebounds in 11.5 minutes last year. Ikenna Okwarabizie is also back after appearing in 12 games last season.
Final Projection:
UCLA had to re-stock their roster after losing five top contributors from their highly successful team last season. The Bruins will certainly miss the excitement Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf and Bryce Alford brought to the lineup, but Steve Alford has added a new group of impressive freshmen. Returning players Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh should add stability to the team while the new guys get adjusted to the college game. The Bruins won’t have the same talent level from last season, but they will still be contenders in the Pac-12.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Aaron Holiday, Junior, Guard, 12.3 points per game

Jaylen Hands, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Prince Ali, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Kris Wilkes, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Thomas Welsh, Senior, Center, 10.8 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 89.8 (2nd in nation, 1st in conference)

Scoring Defense: 75.5 (258, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 52.2 (1, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.2 (87, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.8 (15, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.6 (4, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.8 (64, 5)
Rebound Margin: 3.7 (66, 5)
Assists Per Game: 21.4 (1, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (35, 4)
Madness 2018 NBA Draft Rankings:
#31 Aaron Holiday

Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#20 Kris Wilkes
#22 Jaylen Hands
#41 Cody Riley
#61 Jalen Hill
#123 Chris Smith