ESPN released their way-too-early women’s Top 25 poll for the 2019-20 season and the UCLA basketball team finds themselves in a favorable position (despite misinformation).
It looks as if the UCLA basketball women’s team has caught the attention of a major sports outlet as ESPN’s early look at the 2019-20 season has put the Bruins in their Top 25.
In their way-too-early poll, the worldwide sports leader has the Bruins ranked 16th in the nation, but is this an accurate depiction of the Bruins? It is clear that UCLA is on the rise, especially after their epic run during Pac-12 play and into the post-season where they won 13 of their last 17 games to finish with a 22-13 record and a Sweet 16 appearance.
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But in their analysis of the Bruins, ESPN makes a very crucial blunder which could have affected UCLA’s ranking. Writer Charlie Creme applauds head coach Cori Close and what she has done in constructing this team, but he claims that senior point guard Japreece Dean is graduating, which is false.
Before the end of last season, Dean (who was instrumental in the Bruins’ late-season success) was granted an extra year of eligibility, meaning she will return to her post in the 2019-20 season. Not only will this bring consistency to the Bruins, but will help continue their rise.
So knowing this, it seems fair to say that UCLA could have been ranked higher in the early poll.
Having Dean return for one more year is a big deal as she will not only lead a very talented squad with junior forward Michaela Onyenwere, but UCLA has a loaded roster and is bringing in reinforcements with a Top 10 recruiting class. If Creme was aware of this, it is possible the Bruins could have cracked the top 10, but let’s not concern ourselves with misinformation. The point is, Close is building a machine and they are not even close to reaching their potential.
Though UCLA still has to do battle in a very difficult Pac-12, they have enough firepower to compete for a conference title, but that will require going through some of the top-ranked teams in ESPN’s poll.
Oregon (whom UCLA defeated on their home floor late in the season), came in as the #1 team in ESPN’s Top 25 as they will be led by potential Player of the Year candidate Sabrina Ionescu. Two spots after that, Stanford comes in as the #3 team in the poll. Three spots later, Oregon State holds the #6 ranking. And not to be left out, Arizona State was listed as the #19 team.
The Pac-12 will be tough, but the Bruins are ready. Close did a brilliant job of bringing this team together after the loss of two superstars in Jordin Canada and Monique Billings. UCLA started last season in a bit of a funk with a 3-5 record, but turned it around in a big way and became one of the hottest teams entering the postseason.
Though their #16 ranking might have been based on misinformation, it is still a good sign that UCLA is a team you do not want to mess with and teams should be on alert when they take on Dean and the Bruins.