Oct. 31, 2012
Pauley Pavilion Central
The UCLA men's basketball team enters its 2012-13 campaign with high hopes and renewed optimism. The Bruins return a strong blend of experienced veterans and welcome a talented recruiting class, highlighted by three McDonald's All-American selections.
In addition, 10th-year head coach Ben Howland and his team are eagerly anticipating their return to Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins' iconic home arena that underwent an 18-month, $136 million renovation. UCLA endured an 18-game regular-season "home" schedule at two local venues last season - 14 games at the Los Angeles Sports Arena and four contests at the Honda Center in nearby Anaheim, Calif.
Nearly five months after UCLA closed the 2011-12 season with a 19-14 record and an 11-7 mark in Pac-12 Conference play, the Bruins enjoyed the highlight of their summer - a weeklong goodwill tour in China that featured three exhibition games against Chinese teams in addition to numerous sightseeing adventures. Not only did the Bruins to visit the Great Wall of China and Beijing's "Forbidden City," but the trip abroad allowed the players to bond in a less-than-familiar setting.
After getting some downtime upon returning from China, the Bruins were back on campus by mid-September and ready to hit the ground running with the new school year.
With the departure of Lazeric Jones, last season's leading scorer (13.5 ppg), UCLA will look for senior Larry Drew II and freshman Kyle Anderson to facilitate the team's offense. Drew II transferred to Westwood from North Carolina following the 2010-11 season and sat out the Bruins' 2011-12 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules. Anderson, one of three McDonald's All-America selections in UCLA's incoming class, was a standout the last two years at St. Anthony High School (Jersey City, N.J.).
Drew II, who excelled at nearby Taft High School (Woodland Hills, Calif.), brings a wealth of collegiate experience to UCLA. A three-year contributor at North Carolina, he scored 461 points in 96 career games (53 starts) for the Tar Heels. He averaged career-highs of 8.5 points and 6.0 assists per game during his sophomore year (2009-10). As a freshman (2008-09), he played in all 38 games as North Carolina won the NCAA Championship and ACC regular-season title.
Ranked as one of the nation's top-five incoming freshmen by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com, Anderson brings a versatile game to UCLA. Standing at 6-foot-9, Anderson has shown a knack for scoring and precision passing. He registered point-rebound double-doubles in two of the Bruins' three exhibition games in China over the summer.
Junior Tyler Lamb, sophomore Norman Powell and freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams are expected to factor heavily into UCLA's backcourt. Lamb and Powell each had strong seasons in 2011-12, but both players will look to play more prominent roles this year. Lamb started 32 of UCLA's 33 games as a sophomore, averaging 9.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He ranked second on the team in three-point baskets (43) and three-point field goal attempts (120), shooting at a 35.8 clip from beyond the arc.
Powell excelled off the bench for UCLA in his first season at the collegiate level, averaging 4.6 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. The athletic guard from San Diego, Calif., hit 26 of 75 three-pointers (34.7 percent) and was one of three players, along with Jones and Lamb, to compete in all 33 games. A talented defender and important wing player, Powell's development as a sophomore will be critical to UCLA's success.
Measuring at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Muhammad brings a very strong mid-range game to Westwood and has the strength to score in the lane. Among the top recruits in the nation, the shooting guard from Las Vegas, Nev., figures to be a prominent addition to UCLA's lineup. He earned McDonald's All-America honors and Parade All-America acclaim as a senior at Bishop Gorman High School last season. He led all high school seniors with 29.4 points per game, in addition to recording 10.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in guiding Bishop Gorman to a 28-4 record and the 2012 Nevada 4A State Championship.
Adams could prove to become UCLA's most dangerous three-point threat this season. The 6-foot-5 guard from Atlanta starred the last two seasons at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. As a high school senior last season, Adams helped lead Oak Hill to a school-record 44-0 record and the program's seventh FAB 50 national title. He averaged 19.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.0 rebounds per game before securing team co-MVP honors at the end of the season.
UCLA returns three talented veterans in its frontcourt this season - junior forwards David and Travis Wear and junior center Joshua Smith. The addition of freshman forward/center Tony Parker will help add to the team's frontcourt depth. Travis Wear, David Wear and Smith finished UCLA's 2011-12 season as the team's No. 2, 3 and 4 scorers, respectively. In fact, that trio of 6-foot-10 players accounted for nearly 44 percent of UCLA's total points last year.
Travis Wear led the Bruins in points per game (11.5) last season, finishing first on the team in offensive rebounds (86) and second in blocks (36) and field goal percentage (53.3 pct). Among UCLA's hardest-working players, Travis added 10 pounds to his frame in the offseason and should be one of the Bruins' most reliable low-post scoring threats.
David Wear finished the 2011-12 season as UCLA's leading rebounder, averaging 6.3 boards per game. He grabbed 136 of his 202 rebounds on the defensive end and finished his sophomore season averaging 10.2 points per game. David showed the ability to knock down the outside shot, connecting on 14 of 30 three-pointers and will play an even greater role for the Bruins at small forward this season.
Smith finished his sophomore season averaging 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-10 center from Kent, Wash., will continue to present the opposition with a difficult low-post matchup. Smith's ability to score and rebound under the basket will help complement the Bruins' newest backcourt additions.
Parker is expected to push for playing time as a freshman, having led Miller Grove High School to four consecutive Georgia 4A state titles. A 6-foot-9, 275-pound product from Atlanta, Parker was a 2012 McDonald's All-America selection and Parade All-America honoree along with Anderson and Muhammad. During his senior season, he averaged 16.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game.
The 2012-13 Bruins will embark on a 31-game schedule that includes 18 Pac-12 Conference games, four games in the Progressive Legends Classic (Nov. 13-20), a non-conference meeting against San Diego State in the annual John R. Wooden Classic (Dec. 1) and a game against Texas in Houston's Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL's Houston Texans.
UCLA will open renovated Pauley Pavilion against Indiana State on Friday, Nov. 9. The Bruins will have the opportunity to re-open their historic home arena against the university at which the late John Wooden served as head coach prior to his tenure at UCLA. The following week, UCLA will host a pair of games against UC Irvine (Nov. 13) and James Madison (Nov. 15) as part of the Progressive Legends Classic. The Bruins will continue that in-season tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y., the following week with non-conference meetings against Georgetown (Nov. 19) and either Indiana or Georgia (Nov. 20) the following night at Barclays Center.
Other marquee non-conference matchups include the John R. Wooden Classic meeting against San Diego State on Dec. 1 at the Honda Center in Anaheim. One week later, UCLA will face Texas in Houston's Reliant Stadium. The Bruin men's team will face Texas after UCLA's women's program takes on the Longhorns earlier that afternoon.
UCLA will return home to open a six-game homestand, beginning Dec. 15 with a contest against Prairie View A&M, that is highlighted by a non-conference meeting versus Missouri on Dec. 28. The Bruins will begin conference action against California (Jan. 3) and Stanford (Jan. 5) in the New Year.
In Pac-12 action, UCLA will host every conference foe except for Utah and Colorado. On the road, the Bruins will play at every Pac-12 destination outside of the two schools in Oregon. UCLA closes its home schedule with a much-anticipated showdown versus Arizona on Saturday, March 2. The Bruins will welcome ESPN's College Gameday show to Pauley Pavilion prior to that evening's tipoff. After closing the regular season at Washington State (March 6) and Washington (March 9), UCLA will compete in the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.