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UCLA Bruins (Last Year: 25-10, 13-5 in Pac-12)
2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Tony Parker (Soph)
PF: Travis Wear (Sr)/David Wear (Sr)/Wannah Bail (Fr)
G/F: Jordan Adams (Soph)/Noah Allen (Fr)
SG: Norman Powell (Jr)/Bryce Alford (Fr)
PG: Kyle Anderson (Soph)/Zach LaVine (Fr)
Gone: G/F-Shabazz Muhammad, PG-Larry Drew, C-Joshua Smith (transfer-Georgetown), SG-Tyler Lamb (transfer-Long Beach State)
Even though the UCLA Bruins won the Pac-12 regular season title last year, a change was needed at the top which is why Ben Howland was let go and Steve Alford was hired away from New Mexico. The team returns quality talent from a year ago, but will Alford’s impact help UCLA get back among the elite teams in the country?
A lot of how this upcoming season plays out depends on the point guard position since the Bruins lose Larry Drew. Kyle Anderson figures to take over the responsibility of being the primary ball-handler. He is a unique talent and terrific distributor, but is not a true point guard. Freshmen Zach LaVine will be the other option at the one, but he is more of a scoring combo guard than true distributor.
The loss of Shabazz Muhammad could end up being an addition-by-subtraction type of situation. Jordan Adams was overshadowed by Muhammad last season but was just as productive during his freshman campaign. Adams is a physical wing who can score from all over the floor and will undoubtedly be the focal point of the UCLA offense.
Norman Powell was a key reserve a year ago and should step into the starting lineup. He is athletic and a capable scorer who could be bound for a breakout junior year. Alford’s son Bryce followed him to L.A. and should provide some offensive firepower off the bench, while Noah Allen is a versatile wing who will compete for playing time as well on the wing.
Up front, Alford will rely on the Wear twins and hope sophomore big man Tony Parker is ready to take on a bigger role. Travis and David are identical looking and have pretty similar games. Travis is the more effective scorer of the two and led the team in blocked shots last year, while David is more aggressive on the glass and can also shoot it better from the outside.
Parker was highly recruited coming out of high school, but barely saw the floor last season. He has improved his conditioning during the offseason, losing a reported 20-25 pounds, which should pay dividends in his productivity. Parker’s presence in the middle provides the Bruins with a solid low post scorer who isn’t afraid to bang around in the paint, which isn’t exactly a strength of the Wear twins.
UCLA also received good news in that freshman forward Wannah Bail was recently cleared by the NCAA to play this season. He is recovering from offseason surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee and has not been cleared to practice yet. Once Bail gets healthy, he should add some athleticism to the frontcourt.
Alford also picked up former UTEP commit and McDonald’s All-American wing, Isaac Hamilton. Because of a messy situation in which Tim Floyd didn’t want to release him from his National Letter of Intent, Hamilton’s status for this season is up in the air. If he is allowed to play right away, it will provide the Bruins with another talented scoring wing and add another capable scorer on the wing.
Player to Watch: Kyle Anderson, G/F
Last year, Anderson pretty much played anywhere from the one to the four. Offensively, UCLA needs him to take over as the floor general and use his size and unique skill set to cause mismatches for opposing defenses. How effective Anderson is at running the point will be the determining factor in what type of season the Bruins put together.
Key Non-Conference Games:
Predicted Pac-12 Finish: 3rd
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