With the UCLA basketball team in transition, the Bruins will have a one constant that will help elevate their game in 2019-20; David Singleton.
UCLA basketball‘s David Singelton quickly became a fan favorite last season, and it is no wonder why. The freshman was a symbol of determination and perseverance in a year that was anything but.
The 2018-19 season was a roller coaster ride of emotions. There was a lot of hope entering the season, but there were also a lot of fans that held back their optimism. UCLA was bringing in a very talented recruiting class, but questions arose in regards to former coach Steve Alford being able to do anything with them.
Though it looked as if the Bruins would have a loaded roster, the season unexpectedly started on a down note as freshman PG Tyger Campbell, and PF Shareef O’Neal incurred injuries and health issues which sidelined them for the season. Already, the Bruins were down two players, putting more pressure on the rest of the team. And then there was the disappointing non-conference season which ended with a four-game losing streak which also ended Alford’s tenure.
It was a hard time for UCLA basketball and their fans, but the show had to go on. Depsite everything surrounding them, there were a few Bruins that made slight improvements. There were also a few that embodied the spirit of UCLA basketball. The most notable was David Singleton II.
As a freshman, Singleton was getting good minutes at the beginning of the season, but his grit and drive resulted in more time on the court by season’s end. In the first 13 games (non-conference schedule), Singleton was averaging 15.5 minutes and 3.6 points per game. In the last 13 games of the season, those went up to 20.1 minutes and 6.3 points (for the entire season, he averaged 17.4 minutes and 5.2 points).
Interim head coach Murry Bartow (who took over for Alford to start the Pac-12 portion of the schedule) saw the production of the first-year player and started to give him more and more time. Part of the reason was veteran shooting guard Prince Ali was injured during the season and sat out the rest of the year, but also, he was not performing up to the standard that was required, and Singelton was. In five of the last six games, the freshmen landed a spot in the starting lineup and made the most of his time.
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Singleton did not squander this opportunity. Not only was he hustling on both ends of the floor, but he was making the extra plays that don’t show up on the stat sheet like diving for loose balls and hustling down the court. His activity had fans compare him to the players that former UCLA coach Ben Howland first brought into the program as they were known for putting in the extra effort. That was a huge compliment for a player that came into the program under Alford.
Singleton also added another element to his game, which made him stand out, one that had been missing all season long: the three-point shot. Though he was pretty consistent throughout the year, his confidence grew late in the season and was taking (and making) more shots. In the first 13 games, Singelton went 9/19 (.474) from the arc. In the last 13, he went 19/40 (.475). For the year, Singleton shot .467 from downtown which was not only second in the Pac-12, but it was a better percentage than his field goal percentage (.449).
His production from behind the line makes him a serviceable commodity heading into next season, though head coach Mick Cronin has a significant decision to make. Since Campbell was injured last season, Singleton had part-time duty at point guard behind Jaylen Hands. The same could happen this season as Campbell will be the only legitimate floor general on the roster. But looking at Singelton’s strengths, it seems logical to keep him on the wing to try and create his shot rather than distributing and looking to get others open looks.
Either way, Singleton is a weapon that has to be made a priority. Although, we will have to wait to see how his development goes over the summer as he is still nursing a broken foot that he sustained in the Pac-12 Tournament. But make no mistake, once he is back, the Bruins are going to have a legitimate shooter and Bruin fans are very excited.