Back in April when I wrote my Way-Too-Early Top 25, UCLA was my number one team. They have obviously fallen since then, but still look really good and are the favorites in the PAC-12. They return a lot more than the last few teams in my rankings, which is part of why they are this high. If they can avoid the injuries that bugged them last season, then they are a title contender.
Look at the previous team in my rankings here.
Preseason College Basketball Rankings: #6 UCLA Bruins
Two key starters return from not just last year’s team, but the team that made it to the Final Four two years ago. Both of them should be one of the best at their respective positions this season. Those two guys are Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell. Jaquez Jr. has had three great years at UCLA so far and will continue to be that way this year. He got consideration for preseason All-American honors. He was ninth in the PAC-12 in scoring average and top 15 in rebounding average a year ago. Campbell will be one of the nation’s best point guards again this season. He was third in the conference in assists last year. Jaylen Clark also returns this year. He is in line to take a big step forward this year. In the five-game stretch in February in which he started, he dominated, averaging 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game during that stretch. David Singleton is back too.
In addition to the returnees, Mick Cronin’s squad also boasts a top 15 recruiting class. The top player in the class is combo guard Amari Bailey. He is an athletic combo guard who can do pretty much everything. He can score at all three levels, rebound well on both ends of the floor, plays strong, and has good vision. Adem Bona is a five-star center who will be tasked with anchoring the post for the Bruins and offsetting the losses that the team suffered down there. Bona is raw overall, but he has a lot of promise. He plays strong, is a really good defender and rebounder, and can protect the rim as well. Dylan Andrews is a four-star point guard in the top 45 who should have a role as Campbell’s backup at that position this season.
C – Adem Bona (#16 overall recruit on 247 Sports)
G/F – Jaime Jaquez Jr. (13.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG)
G – Jaylen Clark (6.7 PPG, 3.8 APG, 1.0 APG, 1.1 APG, 0.2 BPG)
G – Amari Bailey (#9 overall recruit on 247 Sports)
PG – Tyger Campbell (11.9 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.1 BPG)