From left to right, T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu and Lonzo Ball form the No. 5 recruiting class in the country, according to rivals.com.
Only Oregon and Arizona were chosen to finish ahead of UCLA in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. Returning nearly all of the Elite Eight team from last season, Oregon received 23 of the first-place votes and Arizona the remaining four, but UCLA finished third by a wide margin.
In the poll released Friday at Pac-12 Media Day, 50 votes separated the Bruins from Cal, which finished 10 votes ahead of fifth-place Colorado. Featuring perhaps the best freshman in the country in Markelle Fultz, Washington finished sixth, followed by USC and Utah.
UCLA can argue it may have the best freshman in the country in Lonzo Ball. Only Arizona landed a more highly ranked group of freshman in the conference than UCLA’s top-five recruiting class including forward T.J. Leaf and center Ike Anigbogu.
Seeing as the Bruins graduated just one player from the team that finished only ahead of Arizona State and Washington State last season, UCLA was richly rewarded by the media for their recruiting haul.
2016-17 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll
1. Oregon (23)
2. Arizona (4)
3. UCLA Continue reading
Senior Isaac Hamilton, the Pac-12’s top returning scorer, is a stark contrast to the other member of UCLA’s backcourt named to a preseason award watch list.
How deep is the UCLA backcourt? Two guards have been named to preseason award watch lists – not including two returners who were starting guards last year.
Senior Isaac Hamilton, the top returning scorer in the Pac-12, was a natural choice for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award watch list announced Tuesday. The buzz about freshman Lonzo Ball is only growing after he earned the distinction as a watch list candidate for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.
To illustrate the depth in the UCLA backcourt, consider that Bryce Alford, who averaged seven tenths of a point less than Hamilton last season, is a certainty to be in the starting lineup when the season begins Nov. 11. As for Aaron Holiday, whose minutes are more difficult to project than the coach’s son, all he did was averaged double figures as a freshman last season and play the best on-ball defense of anybody on the roster. Continue reading
Television executives have officially joined the faction anticipating Steve Alford’s heralded recruiting class. The UCLA men’s basketball team will make more national television appearances this coming season than each of the previous three under Alford.
Featuring touted freshmen Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf, the Bruins will appear on CBS on three occasions, Fox Sports 1 six times and the ESPN family of networks a minimum of 10 times, according to the schedule released by the UCLA athletic department on Thursday.
UCLA’s 15-17 record last season and a 6-12 conference mark that was their worst in 14 years didn’t deter the networks. The obvious reason seems to be the arrival of rivals.com’s No. 5 recruiting class in the country to a roster that has a solid nucleus after graduating just one senior, center Tony Parker. Ball and Leaf are rated the class of 2016’s fourth and 16th recruits in the country, respectively, by rivals.com, which rates UCLA freshman center Ike Anigbogu 25th. Continue reading
UCLA coach Steve Alford praised his three freshmen after the Bruins blew out Sydney University in their exhibition game Tuesday. (David Crane/Staff)
Freshmen starred for the UCLA men’s basketball team in its 123-76 exhibition blowout victory over Sydney University on Tuesday.
UCLA’s trio of freshmen had 46 combined points with TJ Leaf leading the way with a team-high 21. Ike Anigbogu had 16 and Lonzo Ball had nine. Leaf added nine rebounds and Anigbogu had eight boards. Ball had four assists, two steals and two blocks.
“They were outstanding, all three of them – Ike, Lonzo and TJ,” head coach Steve Alford told UCLABruins.com. “We know what they can do. They came here in their first exhibition game and all three played very well.”
UCLA seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford had 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Incoming freshman Lonzo Ball will make an immediate impact on UCLA men’s basketball. (Will Lester/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)
Football season is quickly approaching, but there is still some time for college basketball talk.
Here’s an interesting read on the Ball family from Slam Magazine. In it, incoming UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball says of starting his college career: “For me, I’m trying to bring back the culture of winning to UCLA.”