#17 UCLA Men's Basketball 2018-2019 Preview

UCLA Bruins
2018-2019 Overall Rank: #17
Conference Rank: #2 Pac-12
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UCLA snuck into the NCAA Tournament in 2018, but it was a very brief trip that ended at the hands of St. Bonaventure in the First Four. After a 31-win campaign in 2016-2017, last year was a bit disappointing. And this group does have some big holes to fill, most notably from the departure of Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh, but Coach Steve Alford returns five young players who were part of the regular rotation last season and brings in five top 100 recruits.
2017-18 Record: 21-12, 11-7
2017-18 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Steve Alford
Coach Record: 117-57 at UCLA, 502-263 overall
Key Departed Players:
Aaron Holiday, Guard, 20.3 ppg
Thomas Welsh, Center, 12.6 ppg
Gyorgy Goloman, Forward, 7.1 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Kris Wilkes, Sophomore, Guard, 13.7 ppg
Prince Ali, Junior, Guard, 9.1 ppg
Jaylen Hands, Sophomore, Guard, 9.9 ppg
Alex Olesinski, Junior, Forward, 4.5 ppg
Chris Smith, Sophomore, Guard, 3.9 ppg
Key New Players:
Jules Bernard, Freshman, Guard
Moses Brown, Freshman, Center
Tyger Campbell, Freshman, Guard
Kenneth Nwuba, Freshman, Forward
Shareef O’Neal, Freshman, Forward
Cody Riley, RS Freshman, Forward
David Singleton, Freshman, Guard
UCLA is still loaded with talent despite the departures. Sophomore guards Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands figure to have big seasons. Wilkes is a big 6-8 guard who averaged 13.7 points and 4.9 rebounds as a freshman. He is a capable outside shooter and will be asked to do even more this season. Hands flirted with the NBA after a freshman campaign in which he averaged 9.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Prince Ali, a junior, is the veteran of the unit. The frontcourt will rebuild around redshirt freshman Cody Riley. He missed last season due to suspension, along with fellow 6-10 forward Jalen Hill. The top recruits are also frontcourt players. Moses Brown may need a little time to develop, but the 7-1 center is a great talent. The same is true of Shareef O’Neal, son of Shaquille. He may be considered a project, but do not be surprised if he makes an impact right away. As long as some of the newcomers are ready to contribute, this is a UCLA squad that has the talent to compete for a Pac-12 title and make a decent NCAA Tournament run.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 81.2 (33rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 76.0 (270, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.0 (107, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.3 (77, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.4 (38, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.1 (44, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.0 (144, 7)
Rebound Margin: 2.7 (85, 6)
Assists Per Game: 15.0 (82, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.1 (104, 5)
Madness 2019 NBA Draft Rankings:
#13 Kris Wilkes
#30 Jaylen Hands
Madness 2018 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#25 Moses Brown
#35 Shareef O'Neal
#49 Jules Bernard
#77 David Singleton III
#89 Tyger Campbell