Now that it has been announced that Jaylen Hands is declaring for the NBA Draft, Go Joe Bruin looks at what the 2019-20 UCLA basketball depth chart might look like.
Jaylen Hands has signed with an agent and is declaring for the NBA Draft. Though he has time to decide if he wants to return to school, it seems likely that his days with the UCLA basketball team are over.
Though it would have been nice to have the floor general back for another season, UCLA will have a lot of talent for the new coach (whoever that would be) to work with next season.
UCLA returns 11 players from this past season and adds two more from their recruiting class, putting them at the 13 scholarship limit. Not only will the Bruins have depth, but they have a lot of talent to go with it.
Projected 2019-20 UCLA Basketball Depth Chart
- PG: Tyger Campbell (R-Fr), David Singleton (So)
- SG: Jules Bernard (So) or Singleton, Jake Kyman (Fr), Prince Ali (R-Sr)
- SF: Jaime Jaquez (Fr), Chris Smith (Jr)
- PF: Cody Riley (R-So), Shareef O’Neal (R-Fr), Alex Olesinski (R-Sr)
- C: Moses Brown (So), Jalen Hill (R-So), Kenny Nwuba (So)
This is a stacked roster, but there is one weakness and it starts at the top. With Hands moving on, that only leaves the Bruins with one point guard, Tyger Campbell. Though he is a spry floor general that will open eyes next season, he has not played with this team yet and will be trying to get back to game shape after sitting out last season with an ACL injury.
The quick fix with depth is having David Singleton back him up, similar to what he did last year with Hands, but the new coach is going to have to make a tough decision, use him as a backup PG or start him at the 2 Spot. Last season, Singleton emerged late in the season as a reliable three-point shooter. Outside shooting was a big issue with UCLA in 2018-19, so they need their best shooters available to play on the wing. Luckily, the Bruins are bringing in help as freshman Jake Kyman is solid from distance and will help the Bruins’ shooting woes.
Jules Bernard is another option at SG, but his strength comes from attacking the basket. Like Singleton, he emerged late in the season but was not as consistent from behind the line. Still, he does not need to be effective from outside if he continues to improve on his midrange game.
As much as we hope Prince Ali can develop, he seemed to have plateaued this past season and his foot injury in the last third of the year was not promising. If Ali can elevate his game with the new coach, he could play some heavy minutes with his talent, but that is yet to be seen.
At the other wing spot, Chris Smith could make an impact, but the thing that is concerning is his lack of consistency. Smith has proven that he can knock down shots from all over the court and has his moments on defense, so the next question is, “can Smith take the next step in his development?” I think so.
Freshman Jaime Jaquez has a chance to be a starter. He can shoot, he can drive, he can rebound and he is fearless. If for some reason, we see Campbell, Singleton and Bernard start, Jaquez will back up the 3 Spot and should be a necessary spark off the bench.
Now let us examine the frontcourt, which is oozing with talent and length. Of the six big men, not a single one is shorter than 6’9, so rebounds will be had by all.
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Cody Riley could emerge as the starter at the power forward spot. He was another player that started to grow into his role later in the season and should continue to develop. Backing him up could be Shareef O’Neal who also sat out last season. He is still recovering from heart surgery last December and is slowly working his way back. Though he has the talent to grab a starting spot, the new coach should be cautious with overusing the son of Shaq. Not only has he lost a lot of weight since his surgery, but he needs to get back into form.
Alex Olesinski has given the Bruins good minutes in the last two years, but those minutes could decrease as there is a logjam at the 4 Spot.
Moses Brown did a solid job as UCLA’s starting center, but he needs to work on a few things like tacking on mass. If he can put on some muscle and effectively box out, he could be the best big man in the Pac-12. Quote me on that.
Jalen Hill also made strides late in the season and was very effective on the defensive end. If he can learn to create space and dominate the paint, UCLA will have one of the best frontcourts in the conference. Nwuba played limited minutes last season, which is what we might see in 2019-20. Knowing what is expected, if Nwuba can slowly step up his game and can be a very effective backup post player.
With 13 players, UCLA has a lot to work with. This projection is simply giving Bruins fans an idea of what the Bruins have at their disposal next season. But this does not even start to show the variety of lineups UCLA will use next season. That is a topic for another article.