LOS ANGELES – The UCLA men’s basketball program began preseason practice on Saturday afternoon in Pauley Pavilion. The September start marks a departure from past years as the NCAA adjusted regulations on the practice calendar prior to the 2013-14 season.
In past seasons, practice began approximately four weeks before a team’s first regular season game. Now, men’s basketball teams get to conduct 30 days of practice in the six weeks prior to their first regular season contest.
Under the direction of new head coach Steve Alford, the Bruins return three of five starters from last season and six of the team’s eight primary contributors. Alford took over as UCLA’s head coach on March 30 after having led the University of New Mexico to unprecedented heights in a six-year span as the Lobos’ head coach. Alford guided New Mexico to five regular-season titles in the Mountain West Conference, including regular-season and MWC Tournament championships in 2012 and 2013. Prior to New Mexico, Alford led the University of Iowa to two Big Ten Tournament titles and Missouri State to the school’s only Sweet 16 appearance in the 1999 NCAA Tournament.
Alford and his team bring back three of UCLA’s top four scorers from one season ago – sophomore Jordan Adams (15.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg), senior Travis Wear (10.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and sophomore Kyle Anderson (9.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg). Likewise, three of the Bruins’ top four rebounders from last season are back in 2013-14 – Anderson, Travis Wear and David Wear (7.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg).
In addition, UCLA returns junior Norman Powell (6.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg), who played in all 35 games and served as one of the team’s primary stoppers on defense. Sophomore Tony Parker (2.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg) played in 33 games as a freshman and figures to factor prominently in UCLA’s plans this season.
The Bruins bring in a freshman class that features guards Zach LaVine (Seattle, Wash.), Bryce Alford (Albuquerque, N.M.), Noah Allen (Pacific Grove, Calif.) and Isaac Hamilton (Los Angeles) and 6-foot-9 forward Wanaah Bail (Houston, Texas).
UCLA opens its regular-season against Drexel on Friday, Nov. 8, in Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins will host 18 regular-season home games after playing a pair of exhibition games in Pauley Pavilion versus Cal State San Bernardino (Oct. 30) and Cal State San Marcos (Nov. 4).
The Bruins’ non-conference schedule includes a contest at Missouri on Dec. 7 and a CARQUEST Auto Parts Classic game against Duke at Madison Square Garden in New York on Dec. 19. UCLA closes its non-conference slate versus Alabama in Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 28.
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