#20 UCLA Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

UCLA Bruins

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #20
Conference Rank: #2 Pac-12

UCLA Team Page#20 UCLA Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy UCLA Basketball Tickets

Head Coach Steve Alford had grown used to postseason success coaching at New Mexico for six seasons. He brought that winning personality to UCLA. In his first season as Bruins coach, UCLA won the Pac-12 tournament and made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for Alford and Bruins fans though, 2014-15 is going to be a bit of a reboot. This isn’t to say that UCLA will take a step back this season. That remains to be seen. However, if Alford and company are going to reach similar levels of success as last season, it will be accomplished by a mostly new crop of contributors.

2013-14 Record: 28-9, 12-6
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Steve Alford
Coach Record: 28-9 at UCLA, 489-242 overall

Who’s Out:
It would be an exaggeration to say that everyone is gone from last year’s Sweet Sixteen team. It wouldn’t be exaggerating that much though. Kyle Anderson, the team’s leader and special-blend point guard, left for the NBA. His 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game will be near impossible to replace with just one man. His elastic-man game yet slow-moving gait may not transfer to the next level. Anderson was a special college talent though. Jordan Adams, the team’s leading scorer and one of the nation’s top steals men, also left for the NBA. His 17.4 points per game were even more impressive in that he shot 48.5 percent from the floor while doing so. Zach LaVine, UCLA’s super sub and unreal leaper has also gone to the professional ranks. Fourth on the team in minutes and points, LaVine barely scratched the surface of his talents before declaring for the NBA draft. Twins Travis and David Wear both graduated. Forever linked from their dual transfers from UNC to their combined scrappiness and strength inside, the Bruins’ frontcourt depth will be challenged without them. And finally, to top it all off, in what seems to have become a trend at UCLA, one of its top recruits, four-star power forward Jonah Bolden, has been ruled ineligible for his freshman season.

Who’s In:
To replace the starting lineup-worth of departed players, Coach Alford has recruited a highly talented freshmen class. The group starts with five-star power forward Kevon Looney. Looney will be able to get shots and score right away. He’s thin and needs to add strength but enters as the 12th best prospect in the nation according to ESPN 100. He is joined by three other freshmen, including two highly touted centers in four-star Thomas Welsh and three-star G.G. Goloman. Both players are just a shade less than seven feet but come in with different skill sets. While Welsh is a prototypical center, Goloman is a “Euro” center in that he can pass, dribble and step out and hit threes. The last addition to UCLA this season comes from rising sophomore Isaac Hamilton. Hamilton, like Bolden this season, was forced to sit out all of last year before he even played a game for the Bruins. Now, eligible once again, Hamilton is a supremely talented shooting guard who may find himself in the starting lineup very early on. He was actually rated slightly higher out of high school than Zach LaVine was. Hamilton could be a viable Jordan Adams replacement even sooner than fans expect.

Who to Watch:
With so many young additions to the roster, it will come down to the returning players to lead by example and set the tone. Norman Powell returns as the biggest star on this team. Although he only averaged around 25 minutes per game a season ago, Powell averaged double digits scoring while shooting extremely efficiently from the floor. It would be a surprise to see Powell play anything less than 30-35 minutes a night in 2014-15. The same uptick in minutes should also be coming for sophomore Bryce Alford and junior Tony Parker. Alford is the logical starting point guard on this roster. He pretty much never played as the main ball-handler last year with Kyle Anderson on the floor and resorted to spotting up for threes. Alford’s maturation may be the most important key to the offense keeping pace with what the Bruins achieved last season.

Final Projection:
Steve Alford already seems to be running a much tighter ship than the previous regiment. His development of top recruits also seems to be on track. Of course, to match last year’s success, Alford will need his incoming freshmen to be even better than the likes of LaVine. This year’s squad, because of the dearth of veterans, will see new players in the starting lineup as well as on the court during crunch time. Looney, Welsh and the rest are as high as can be in the “potential” category. UCLA’s journey through the NCAA Tournament will be determined by their actual production.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Bryce Alford, Sophomore, Guard, 8.0 points per game
Norman Powell, Senior, Guard, 11.4 points per game
Isaac Hamilton, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Kevon Looney, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Tony Parker, Junior, Forward, 6.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 81.2 (11th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.4 (186, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.9 (10, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.7 (124, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.2 (166, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.0 (45, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.9 (21, 3)
Rebound Margin: 1.7 (130, 5)
Assists Per Game: 17.2 (5, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.2 (25, 3)

Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#55 Norman Powell

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#11 Kevon Looney
#35 Jonah Bolden
#48 Thomas Welsh


See All Top 144 Basketball Previews