The Go Joe Bruin UCLA Men’s Basketball Season Preview

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Roster & Projected Line-up

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Projected Line-Up

G Bryce Alford – G Isaac Hamilton

F Jonah Bolden – C Thomas Welsh – F Tony Parker

Bodies. UCLA Men’s Basketball now has bodies to put on the floor and they could not have come soon enough. After the 2013-14 season, the Bruins lost five players to the NBA (Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams, Zach LaVine, David Wear, Travis Wear), with three being first round draft picks. Before the 2014-15 season, UCLA lost two more players to eligibility as senior G Jonathan Octeus was denied admission as a graduate transfer and in-coming freshman F Jonah Bolden was denied eligibility by the NCAA.

Despite the thin roster, UCLA managed to squeak into the big dance and get two wins in the first weekend, macthing their post-season appearance from the previous year as Sweet 16 participants. Now imagine what this team can do with a full roster. We get to find out this year as the Bruins have 11 scholarship players for 2015-16, the most in Alford’s tenure.

The added depth directly affects the back court which was scarcely thin last season. The Bruins started three of their four scholarship guards which had its benefits and disadvantages. Norman Powell, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton all averaged over 33 minutes a game, which was good for consistency, but by the end of the game, they would run out of gas. The fourth guard, Noah Allen, only played 11 minutes a game coming off the bench.

All of that will be balanced out this year with the addition of two highly recruited guards as Aaron Holiday will come in to help with point guard duties while Prince Ali will assist at the 2 spot.

The interesting piece in all of this is Jonah Bolden who can play both guard and forward, but with so many ball handlers, he will see the majority of his time on the wing, mostly at the 3.

Under the basket we will see Tony Parker and Thomas Welsh getting the start. Parker is entering his senior year and continues to improve from year to year, meaning he should have a solid season and hopefully breakout as one of the Pac-12’s top big men. He was recently nominated to the 2015-16 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award.

Nov 14, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins center Thomas Welsh (40) reacts to a basket during the first half against the Montana State Bobcats at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Welsh was more of a project last season. A 7-foot center that had height but not much strength. It took Welsh a while to get in the groove with the UCLA front court, but eventually grew into his own. This past summer, Welsh got more experience with the USA Basketball U-19 oversees in Greece, as Team USA won the U-19 Championship. That added experience should help Welsh acclimate quicker to the pace of Division I basketball and should have a solid sophomore year because of it.

Like last season, the Bruins had more depth in the back court than the front and will remain that way, though they start of a bit injured. Gyorgy Goloman was impressive at times at the power forward spot, though he will be out for about a month or two to start the season with a stress fracture. This is unfortunate given the improvements Goloman made late in the season coming off the bench.

UCLA will now have to look towards two under-the-radar recruits with freshman forward Alex Olesinski and center transfer Ikenna Okwarabizie. Both players have raw talent, but expect them to be projects in their first season in Westwood.

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