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