#16 UCLA Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

UCLA Bruins
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #16
Conference Rank: #1 Pac-12
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Mick Cronin’s first season at UCLA finished far better than it started. The Bruins were just 8-9 at one point and lost games to Hofstra, Cal State Fullerton and Washington State. However, something clicked as UCLA won 11 of their last 14 games and were in position to make the NCAA Tournament. This season, every starter returns along with most of their bench production. The Bruins are positioned to be the best team in the Pac-12 in 2020-21.
2019-20 Record: 19-12, 12-6
Coach: Mick Cronin
Coach Record: 19-12 at UCLA, 384-182 overall
Key Departed Players:
Prince Ali, Guard, 6.8 ppg
Shareef O’Neal, Forward, 2.2 ppg
Alex Olesinski, Forward, 1.3 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Chris Smith, Senior, Forward, 13.1 ppg
Jalen Hill, Junior, Forward, 9.0 ppg
Jaime Jaquez, Sophomore, Guard, 8.9 ppg
Cody Riley, Junior, Forward, 8.8 ppg
Tyger Campbell, Sophomore, Guard, 8.3 ppg
Jules Bernard, Junior, Guard, 5.5 ppg
Jake Kyman, Sophomore, Guard, 5.3 ppg
David Singleton, Junior, Guard, 4.1 ppg
Kenneth Nwuba, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Key New Players:
Jaylen Clark, Freshman, Guard
Johnny Juzang, Sophomore, Guard, Transfer from Kentucky
UCLA gets every starter back from last year with none more important than Chris Smith and his decision to return for his senior season. Smith led the Bruins in scoring with 13.1 points per game while adding in 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals. Smith is an NBA prospect that should be one of the best players in the conference. The rest of the starters were fairly balanced as Jalen Hill, Jaime Jaquez, Cody Riley and Tyger Campbell all averaged between 9.0 and 8.3 points per game last season. Campbell is likely the Bruins’ second-best player with his steady hand at point guard. As a freshman, Campbell averaged 5.0 assists per game and led the Pac-12 in assist-to-turnover ratio. Jules Bernard, Jake Kyman and David Singleton all return as pieces off the bench making UCLA one of the top teams in the nation in terms of continuity. With so much returning production, new players were not a necessity for the Bruins to bring in, yet they still nabbed one of the top transfers on the market. Johnny Juzang was a five-star prospect for Kentucky and will be immediately eligible as a sophomore at UCLA. Juzang only played 12.3 minutes per game as a freshman, but he flashed his shooting ability and has the talent to make a major impact for the Bruins. UCLA only brings in one true freshman in four-star guard Jaylen Clark. Top-to-bottom, UCLA has one of the most impressive rosters in the nation especially in terms of returning production. Consistency is important in this sport, and UCLA’s makes them the favorite to win the Pac-12 heading into 2020-21.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.5 (227th in nation, 11th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.1 (116, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.4 (178, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.9 (178, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.0 (287, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.3 (229, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.8 (142, 8)
Rebound Margin: 5.6 (31, 1)
Assists Per Game: 12.9 (190, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.3 (190, 8)
Madness 2020 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#97 Jaylen Clark