A key aspect to any basketball team is an explosive backcourt. UCLA Basketball had several guards graduate this past year and while there are a few returning to the team next year, the team has also landed two new recruits: shooting guard Prince Ali, and point guard Aaron Holiday. Luckily, Go Joe Bruin is here to help keep track of players both old and new.
Let’s first start off by taking a look at one of the newest freshman to join the team, Prince Ali. At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Ali is a 4-star-rated recruit from Pembroke Pines, Florida. He was ranked 41st on ESPN‘s 100 list and according to his ESPN basketball recruiting profile, he is described as “…a very athletic wing guard that can also excel at the point.
Ali can simply make scoring plays with the ball in his hands. He attacks the rim on the break and can deliver the ball to an open teammate as he probes the defense…”
The other freshman guard joining the team is Aaron Holiday. At an even six-feet tall and 175 pounds, Holiday has been stirring the pot since before he even got to UCLA. As the younger brother of Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans, there are already a lot of high expectations set for the younger Holiday.
He could even take on the role as the next starting point guard for the Bruins in order to take some of those duties off of returning guard, Bryce Alford. According to his ESPN basketball recruiting profile, he was described as being able to “…slash his way to the rim at will…” There is no doubt it will be exciting to watch him on the court next season.
As the excitement builds to watch the new Bruins on the court, we can’t forget about our returning guards. One of those being redshirt sophomore, Isaac Hamilton.
Isaac Hamilton’s emergence at UCLA has definitely been an exciting one. He went from taking a whole year off due to ineligibility to starting in all 36 games, averaging 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. He especially came through when the Bruins took on USC in the Pac-12 tournament when he scored a season-high 36 points to aid the Bruins in their 96-70 win. He also scored in double figures in 22 out of the 36 games. With a year under his belt already, Hamilton should be able to come back even stronger this upcoming season.
Jan 24, 2015; Eugene, OR, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Bryce Alford (20) dribbles the ball against the Oregon Ducks at Matthew Knight Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Bryce Alford is another experienced Bruin returning next season. Like Hamilton, this past year he started in all 36 games. He averaged 15.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. Alford really worked to lead the team on the court this past season and although he definitely peaked during some games, like many of his fellow returning Bruins, consistency is key to his success.
With the help of Aaron Holiday on the court, Alford will have a greater opportunity to work on some of his skills aside from leading the team by taking on the duties of point guard.
Noah Allen is the last recognizable Bruin returning to the backcourt next season. While he played in every game this past season, he only averaged 11.4 minutes per game. For this reason, he only averaged 1.3 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. His stats indicate that even though Allen hasn’t played very much, it hasn’t had a tremendous impact on the Bruins. I think all Bruin fans are really rooting for him to pick it up next season and make us proud.