Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Preview: UCLA Bruins

Last season was a decent one for the UCLA Bruins. They finished with an overall record of 19-14 and a Pac-12 Conference record of 11-7. Their biggest non-conference losses from last year came against 14th-ranked Kansas, 15th-ranked Michigan, and Texas. Late in the season, the Bruins tried to make a run in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament, but lost to the Arizona Wildcats in their second game.

They did not make it to the NCAA Tournament or any kind of postseason tournament.

This year, UCLA will be without their leading scorer from last season, Lazeric Jones. Jones averaged 13.5 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, and 33.5 minutes per game for the Bruins last season. Jones was really something special for UCLA last season. According to uclabruins.com, he was “presented with the Coach John Wooden Award as the Bruins’ Most Valuable Player” this past April.

Jan 28, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins forward David Wear (12) and forward Travis Wear (24) head down court during the first half of the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Despite losing Jones to graduation, UCLA will have their second and third scorers and their top two rebounders from last season is the forms of David Wear and Travis Wear. These identical twins were right behind Lazeric Jones in scoring and led the team in rebounds during last season. Travis averaged 11.5 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game last season while David averaged 10.2 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game.

This “two-headed” attack will be key for the UCLA Bruins this season.

The biggest freshman coming in for the Bruins this season was without a doubt Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad was a four-year varsity letterwinner at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. He led all high school seniors in scoring and rebounding as he averaged 29.4 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per game.

However, Muhammad will not play to start the season. This is because he injured his right shoulder in practice this week and is expected to be out for two to four weeks. He might not even play for UCLA after this injury because of the NCAA investigating whether or not Muhammad accepted extra benefits during his recruitment.

This season’s success for the UCLA Bruins will mainly depend of how fast Shabazz Muhammad can get on the court. Their non-conference has generally not many tough opponents, but is highlighted with some rough ranked opponents. Those ranked opponents include: #20 San Diego State and #15 Missouri. However, UCLA has to play Georgetown and Texas too (both unranked).

The Pac-12 conference schedule is very hit or miss for UCLA this season. Without a doubt, their toughest conference opponent will be 12th-ranked Arizona, but after that it is hard to pick just one team that will give them trouble. This is because of the fact that the competition in the Pac-12 conference is very close.

With Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA could be a top 3 team in the Pac-12, but could be just a top 5 team without him.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyWidmer.

Follow the Autzen Zoo on Twitter @Autzen_Zoo and like us on Facebook at Autzen_Zoo.

Check out my other writings on the Kansas Jayhawks blog, Through the Phog.

Topics: Basketball, Preview, Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA Bruins

Want more from Autzen Zoo?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • I (re)wrote your story

    I’m not going to tear this entire article apart although I could and probably should so that you can keep learning about basketball. I have just one question. Why would you publish this sentence, “Their non-conference has generally not many tough opponents, but is highlighted with some rough ranked opponents”. Again I would be embarrassed to have my name in the by line of this article. I’m sure this made sense in your head but it came out a jumbled mess. If you were speaking you would have projectile vomited just trying to get it out. Sometimes it helps to read what you are writing to make sure it is clear and makes sense. Another note…you place far too much importance in the pre-season college basketball rankings in your assessment of the strength of schedule. They are meaningless go back in March and you will not recognize the rankings. The basketball rankings might be the worst predictor of an upcoming season in any college sport. The pre-season ones are built upon hype and hype alone. That is why teams like UCLA, Kentucky, and Duke are ranked highly even though they will all rely on unproven freshman talent this year. These may well be top 15 teams but there is currently no tangible evidence supporting that. The in season rankings are more reliable because they are built upon how the teams have performed on the court not how they look in the locker room.