#71 UCLA Men's Basketball 2019-2020 Preview

UCLA Bruins
2019-2020 Overall Rank: #71
Conference Rank: #7 Pac-12
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The Steve Alford era at UCLA was a bit of a roller coaster. Despite four NCAA Tournaments and three Sweet Sixteens, Alford was fired last December after an unimpressive 7-6 start. Mick Cronin takes the reins this year after leading Cincinnati to nine consecutive NCAA Tournaments. UCLA’s top three scorers all departed for the NBA, but the rest of the rotation is back along with a solid freshmen class. With the improvement in coaching, the Bruins could have a talented enough roster to get back to the postseason in 2020.
2018-19 Record: 17-16, 9-9
2018-19 Postseason: None
Coach: Mick Cronin
Coach Record: 0-0 at UCLA, 365-170 overall
Key Departed Players:
Kris Wilkes, Forward, 17.4 ppg
Jaylen Hands, Guard, 14.2 ppg
Moses Brown, Center, 9.7 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Prince Ali, Senior, Guard, 9.6 ppg
Jules Bernard, Sophomore, Guard, 7.6 ppg

Chris Smith, Junior, Forward, 6.3 ppg
Cody Riley, Sophomore, Forward, 5.5 ppg
David Singleton, Sophomore, Guard, 5.2 ppg

Jalen Hill, Sophomore, Forward, 4.3 ppg
Alex Olesinski, Senior, Forward, 2.3 ppg
Kenneth Nwuba, Sophomore, Center, 0.4 ppg
Key New Players:
Tyger Campbell, Freshman, Guard (4 star 91 overall redshirt)

Jaime Jaquez, Freshman, Forward (4 star 87 overall)
Jake Kyman, Freshman, Forward (3 star)
Shareef O’Neal, Freshman, Forward (4 star 41 overall)
Kris Wilkes, Jaylen Hands and Moses Brown are all in the NBA now, but everyone else from last season’s team is back for 2019-20. Redshirt senior Prince Ali is the top returning scorer. Ali missed the final seven games of last season but averaged 9.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 26 starts. Jules Bernard could sneakily be the most intriguing returner for the Bruins. As a freshman, he only played 17.2 minutes but was fifth on the team in scoring with 7.6 points per game on 46.9% shooting. Bernard dropped 20 points against Oregon in February, showing his potential to be a top scorer. Chris Smith, Cody Riley, David Singleton and Jalen Hill all started between 15 and five games as underclassmen last season. Smith was the lone sophomore of that group and averaged 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists. Smith stands 6-foot-9 but plays as more of a guard which makes him a tough matchup for opponents. Riley and Hill were both redshirt freshmen after sitting out all of 2017-18 due to the infamous China incident with LiAngelo Ball. Riley started eight games and averaged 5.5 points and 4.1 rebounds, while Hill started 15 games and averaged 4.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists. Lastly, true freshman David Singleton started five games at the end of the year. Singleton averaged 5.2 points and shot 46.7% from three-point range. All four players should make bigger impacts under Mick Cronin this season. Alex Olesinski and Kenneth Nwuba also return to give UCLA depth in the frontcourt. The Bruins have four freshmen on the roster as well, three of which are four-star recruits. Tyger Campbell and Shareef O’Neal both redshirted last season due to injuries. Campbell, a top-100 recruit, tore his ACL last October but has potential to become the point guard of the future at UCLA. O’Neal, son of Shaquille, did not play last year because of a heart condition but is poised to make a full recovery for 2019-20. Jaime Jaquez is also a four-star, top-100 recruit, while Jake Kyman is a three-star prospect. UCLA hasn’t had the success it’s used to as of late, but the potential is there to get back on track this season. Mick Cronin is a proven winner and he has some promising talent to work with in his first season at the helm. UCLA getting back to form would be a welcome sight for the Pac-12 and all of college basketball.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.2 (51st in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 77.8 (319, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.7 (92, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (97, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (170, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.5 (115, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 63.3 (342, 12)
Rebound Margin: 4.2 (51, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.3 (99, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.2 (285, 11)

Madness 2019 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#81 Jaime Jaquez Jr