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College Basketball Preview: 9. UCLA Bruins

9. UCLA Bruins 19-14 in 2011 (11-7 Pac 12)

Last season died before it even began. The Bruins, who started last season ranked in the Top 25 and struggled mightily, losing 14 games including a 5th place finish in the mediocre Pac 12. Then, with his job in danger, Ben Howland went out and snatched up the top recruiting class in the nation. Included in the class is Shabazz Muhammed, Tony Parker and Kyle Anderson which could help the Bruins make the jump that Kentucky did a few seasons ago with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe. Playing in a weak conference, the Bruins could dance all the way to a number one seed but how strong the freshman play late in the tournament determines how much success this season was.

Shabazz Muhammed

Backcourt: UCLA's biggest weakness last season was their backcourt. That could change significantly with an infusion of talent. UNC transfer Larry Drew should start at point guard with Lazeric Jones graduating. Drew has speed and can handle the ball well but didn't transition well to the college game at Chapel Hill. Junior Tyler Lamb played major minutes last season and did pretty good averaging 9 points a game. But with many additions, Lamb's playing time could take a big hit. The backup to Drew at point could be Kyle Anderson. Saying Anderson is big for his position is an understatement as he is 6 feet 8 inches. But, there is no denying he could be the best passer on the team this next season. Inconsistent Norman Powell should see minutes. He is electric and showed flashes of being great but doesn't have the smarts others do. The biggest addition, without question, was Shabazz Muhammed who has the talent to be the next Wall. He can score in bunches, pass well, and has a great mid range game.

Travis Wear
Frontcourt: Two brothers could give the Bruins one of the best and deepest frontcourts they've had in a while. Those two are the Wears, Travis and David, who shined when given the chance after transferring from UNC. Travis is more of a natural born scorer and has a more polished inside game while David is a fantastic rebounder. Sure to start alongside the two at center is Tony Parker who is smaller than both the Wears but has more talent. Parker has great athleticism and can block and score consistently. UCLA shouldn't have many questions about how he'll adjust to the college game. Junior Joshua Smith could lose his starting job this season with all these newcomers. Smith has talent an can curve out space down low but whenever you are over 300 pounds you can't have too much success. If he can get into better shape he could be dominant.

Top NBA Prospect: Shabazz Muhammed
Pac 12 Rank: 1st
PG Larry Drew- Senior
SG Shabazz Muhammed- Freshman
SF Travis Wear- Junior
PF David Wear- Junior
C Tony Parker- Freshman
Sixth Tyler Lamb- Junior

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