UCLA will have to replace leading scorer Johnny Juzang, who was one of four players available in the 2022 NBA draft (two-way contract with Utah Jazz). Third-leading scorer Jules Bernard is also embarking on a career in the pros.
Offense will be led by guards Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell. Jaylen Clark and David Singleton are other guards who were part of the rotation during last season.
UCLA was quiet in the transfer portal, but coach Mick Cronin added a top-10 recruiting class.
When looking at the college basketball playoff odds, UCLA (+1400) is sixth (tied with Arkansas and Duke) in odds to win the national title.
UCLA came in at No. 7 in the Coaches’ Poll, and eighth in the Associated Press poll. They’re the top-ranked team among Pac-12 squads in both polls.
UCLA received 26 of 33 first-place votes, picked to win the Pac-12 title in the preseason poll.
- 2021-22 record: 27-8
- 2021-22 Pac-12 Record: 15-5
- Coach: Mick Cronin
- Odds to win national title: +1400
Jaquez and Campbell finished first and second, respectively, on the Bruins in assists per game a year ago, so the offense is in good hands this season.
Do not be surprised to see them improve their scoring averages of (13.9 ppg and 11.9 ppg) of a season ago. Jaquez missed 24-of-35 shots in losses in the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments. UCLA was 16-6 when Campbell scored at least 10 points. He did average 15.7 points (five assists) in three NCAA tournament games.
So, not only did UCLA lose Juzang, the team’s leading scorer (15.6 points) and his 4.7 rebounds per game, but also Bernard (12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds),
Now without Juzang, Cody Riley and Myles Johnson, there are some questions about how the Bruins will mesh.
Jake Kyman (eight minutes, 2.4 points per game), transferred to Wyoming, so that further adds to those concerns.
Mac Etienne, a 6-foot-10 forward, averaged 11.3 minutes as a freshman during the 2020-21 season. He did score nine points in a win over Arizona St., and played 15 minutes in the Pac-12 tournament game against Oregon St. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason, and didn’t play a season ago.
Kenneth Nwuba played just 2.9 minutes as a frosh, then 5.9 and 6.4 mpg over the next two seasons. The 6-foot-10 Nwuba earned plenty of time against overmatched, non-conference opponents. Now, his role may increase.
Freshman center Adem Bona and guard Amari Bailey are on national award watch lists. Much will be expected of them.
— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) October 28, 2022
LA native Dylan Andrews and Italy’s Abramo Canka could add some depth in the backcourt.
Once again the preseason favorite in the Pac-12, UCLA has some experience in the backcourt. It is easy to question how the Bruins will handle physical opponents in the frontcourt.
UCLA’s bid to return to the Final Four ended with a Sweet 16 loss to North Carolina, that after Arizona topped the Bruins in the Pac-12 title game. Both of those games could easily have been won by the Bruins.
The Bruins head to Las Vegas before Thanksgiving to face Illinois and either Baylor or Virginia. Other intriguing non-conference games come at Maryland and at Madison Square Garden against Kentucky,
Back-to-back road games against Pac-12 rivals Arizona and USC will challenge, but the good news is there are a few days between those contests.
UCLA began 2022 by going 0-4-1 against the college basketball spreads, and failed to cover in three of its last four.
UCLA went 14-1 at home. However, things were different away from Pauley Pavilion (13-7).
2022-23 UCLA Schedule
- Season opener: vs Sacramento St., Nov. 7th, 11:30 p.m. ET
- Pac-12 opener: vs Stanford, Dec. 1, 10:30 p.m. ET
Other Games to Watch
- vs Illinois (at Las Vegas), Nov. 18th, 9:30 p.m. ET
- vs Baylor/Virginia (at Las Vegas), Nov. 20th, time TBA
- vs Pepperdine, Nov. 23th, 10:30 p.m. ET
- vs Oregon, Dec. 4th, 5 p.m. ET
- at Maryland, Dec. 14th, 9 p.m. ET
- vs Kentucky (at Madison Square Garden), Dec. 17th, 5:30 p.m. ET
- vs Southern California, Jan. 5th, 9:30 p.m. ET
- at Arizona, Jan. 21th, 2 p.m. ET
- at Southern California, Jan. 26th, 9 p.m. ET
- at Oregon, Feb. 11th, time TBA
- vs Stanford, Feb. 16th, 11 p.m. ET
- vs Arizona, Mar. 4th, 10 p.m. ET