Sept. 26, 2011
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA men's basketball team has been ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation in two recently-released college basketball preview magazines. Sporting News has tabbed UCLA No. 15, while Lindy's has ranked the Bruins at No. 20.
In addition, UCLA has been named to Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook's preseason top 25, opening as a preseason No. 23 selection. Sporting News has predicted UCLA to finish second in the Pac-12. Lindy's has tabbed the Bruins as the No. 3 team in the conference.
UCLA returns nine letterwinners this season, including three of its top five scorers (Reeves Nelson, Joshua Smith and Lazeric Jones) and two of its top three rebounders (Nelson, Smith) from last season.
Nelson led the Bruins in scoring (13.9 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg) as a sophomore in 2010-11. The Bruins' other top returning scorers include sophomore Joshua Smith (10.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and senior Lazeric Jones (9.1 ppg, 3.6 apg). Smith finished his freshman year fourth on the team in scoring average and third in rebounding average. Jones led the Bruins in assists per game and ranked fifth in scoring average.
The Bruins welcome the additions of redshirt sophomores David and Travis Wear, who both sat out the 2010-11 season due to NCAA rules after transferring from North Carolina. The twin brothers from Huntington Beach, Calif., starred at Mater Dei High School from 2005-09.
Under the leadership of ninth-year head coach Ben Howland, UCLA has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in six of the past eight years. The Bruins earned postseason berths in five straight seasons, including three consecutive trips to the Final Four (2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08).
This fall, UCLA will play one exhibition game against Cal State San Bernardino on Sunday, Nov. 6, at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. That contest will begin at 2 p.m. The Bruins open their regular-season schedule against Loyola Marymount on Friday, Nov. 11, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena at 7:30 p.m.