#17 UCLA Bruins: College Basketball 111 in 111

HOT UCLA CHEERLEADERS

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

With the uncertainty surrounding Shabazz Muhammad’s eligibility, it’s difficult to rank the UCLA Bruins.  With Muhammad, they are a potential Final Four contender.  Without him, there is still improved talent but the Top 20 seems like a more reasonable expectation.

UCLA BRUINS
Last Season: T-5th, 11-7 in Pac-10, 19-14 overall
Predicted Pac-12 Finish: 2nd

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Travis Wear (Jr)/Joshua Smith (Jr)/Sooren Derboghosian (Jr)/Adria Gasol (Fr)
PF: David Wear (Jr)/Tony Parker (Fr)
G/F: Kyle Anderson (Fr)/Jordan Adams (Fr)/Shabazz Muhammad (Fr)
SG: Norman Powell (So)/Tyler Lamb (Jr)/Khalid McCaskill (Fr)
PG: Larry Drew (Jr)

Gone: PG-Lazeric Jones, G-Jerime Anderson, PF-Reeves Nelson, PF-Brendan Lane (transfer-Pepperdine), SF-De’End Parker (transfer-San Francisco), C-Anthony Stover

2012-2013 Outlook:
Muhammad is recovering from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him throughout much of practice but the fact that he has yet to be cleared by the NCAA is the true pressing matter.  It is being investigated as to whether he received improper benefits during his AAU time.  Bruin Nation is waiting on pins and needles as a decision could come tomorrow or might still be weeks away.

Kyle Anderson faced a similar investigation but was recently given the okay to play.  He and Muhammad are supposed to revitalize a UCLA program sorely needing a shot in the arm.  Anderson is an incredibly unique talent due to his 6-9 height and point forward abilities.  He is by no means a tremendous athlete but has a terrific feel for the game along with the versatility to play four different positions which will afford Ben Howland the opportunity to mix and match his lineups.

The Bruins bring in another big-time recruit in the physical Tony Parker who will compete with Joshua Smith for minutes in the middle.  That’s a whole lot of size since Smith weighs in at a generous 305 pounds while Parker is listed at 275.  Both guys are talented low post scorers though conditioning will always be an issue for Smith and that could be the case with Parker as well.  UCLA also has a pair of intriguing foreign big men in Adria Gasol (yes, the younger brother of Pau and Marc) and JUCO transfer Sooren Derbroghosian.  It will be interesting to watch these guys develop.

The Wear twins return to provide some versatility inside.  Travis is more of a post player though he does have decent range on his jumper.  He was also the team’s top shot blocker last season.  David is a little more of a combo forward since he has more consistency with his outside shot.  David can play inside too as he led the Bruins in rebounding as a sophomore.

The backcourt is a bit of a toss up.  Tyler Lamb is recovering from knee surgery that he underwent a month ago and his status for Friday’s opener versus Indiana State is up in the air.  While he improved last season, his minutes could actually get cut with the arrivals of Anderson and Muhammad.  Larry Drew becomes eligible after massively underachieving during his three years at North Carolina.  How he performs as the floor general this season could be the x-factor for UCLA.  If Drew doesn’t fully own the point guard position, Anderson will see plenty of time initiating the offense.

Until Lamb gets healthy and Muhammad is cleared, it appears as if Howland will start sophomore Normal Powell on the wing.  The Bruins’ fourth top-100 recruit in their 2012 class is wing Jordan Adams who should be a factor off the bench while redshirt freshman Khalid McCaskill will try to earn some PT as well.

You have to figure that Muhammad will eventually be able to suit up for the Bruins this season.  When that happens, UCLA will undoubtedly have some elite talent across their roster.  If Howland can get the group to truly jell as a whole, a Final Four run is not out of the picture.

Player to Watch: Shabazz Muhammad
For an 18-year old, the lefty is already a man among boys due to his size, strength, and explosiveness at the rim.  How well is able to shoot the ball from the perimeter might be the determining factor in whether or not Muhammad is the top overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/19 Georgetown (Legends Classic in Brooklyn)
11/20 vs. Indiana/Georgia (Legends Classic in Brooklyn)
12/1 vs. San Diego State (in Anaheim)
12/8 vs. Texas (in Houston)
12/18 vs. Long Beach State
12/28 vs. Missouri

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#19 Cincinnati Bearcats
#20 Marquette Golden Eagles
#21 Creighton Bluejays
#22 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#23 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#24 Memphis Tigers
#25 Baylor Bears
#26 Wisconsin Badgers
#27 Tennessee Volunteers
#28 Pitt Panthers
#29 New Mexico Lobos
#30 St. Mary’s Gaels
#31 Georgetown Hoyas
#32 North Texas Mean Green
#33 Ohio Bobcats
#34 Texas Longhorns
#35 Miami Hurricanes
#36 Purdue Boilermakers
#37 Alabama Crimson Tide
#38 St. Joseph’s Hawks
#39 Murray State Racers
#40 VCU Rams
#41 Davidson Wildcats
#42 Stanford Cardinal
#43 UMass Minutemen
#44 St. John’s Red Storm
#45 Butler Bulldogs
#46 Florida State Seminoles
#47 Drexel Dragons
#48 St. Louis Billikens
#49 West Virginia Mountaineers
#50 BYU Cougars
#51 Temple Owls
#52 Washington Huskies
#53 California Golden Bears
#54 Kansas State Wildcats
#55 Nevada Wolfpack
#56 Colorado Buffaloes
#57 Iowa State Cyclones
#58 Northern Iowa Panthers
#59 Colorado State Rams
#60 Iowa Hawkeyes
#61 South Florida Bulls
#62 Valparaiso Crusaders
#63 Illinois Fighting Illini
#64 Arkansas Razorbacks
#65 Wichita State Shockers
#66 George Mason Patriots
#67 Virginia Cavaliers
#68 Villanova Wildcats
#69 Maryland Terrapins
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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