#17 UCLA Women's Basketball 2021-2022 Preview

UCLA Bruins
Overall Rank: #17
Conference Rank: #3 Pac-12
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UCLA had another solid season in 2020-2021. They finished third in the Pac-12 and earned a three seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins tournament did not last quite as long as hoped when they fell to #6 Texas in the Second Round. Coach Cori Close must now replace three starters, including leading scorer and sixth overall pick in the WNBA Draft Michaela Onyenwere. An injury to sophomore Emily Bessoir that will cause her to miss the season, adds another hole to fill, but as always, the Bruins have talent ready to step up.
2020-21 Record: 17-6, 12-4
2020-21 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Cori Close
Coach Record: 213-110 at UCLA, 213-110 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Michaela Onyenwere, Forward, 19.1 ppg
Lauryn Miller, Forward, 6.7 ppg
Lindsey Corsaro, Guard, 5.0 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Charisma Osborne, Junior, Guard, 17.0 ppg
Natalie Chou, Senior, Guard, 9.9 ppg
Emily Bessoir, Sophomore, Forward, 7.5 ppg
Chantel Horvat, Senior, Guard, 6.1 ppg
Dominique Onu, Sophomore, Guard, 2.3 ppg
Camryn Brown, Junior, Guard, 2.0 ppg
Kiara Jefferson, Senior, Guard, dnp last season
Brynn Masikewich, Junior, Forward, dnp last season
Kayla Owens, Senior, Guard, dnp last season
Key New Players
Izzy Anstey, Sophomore, Forward
Gina Conti, Senior, Guard, Transfer from Wake Forest
Angela Dugalic, Sophomore, Forward, Transfer from Oregon
Jaelynn Penn, Senior, Guard, Transfer from Indiana
Ilmar’l Thomas, Senior, Forward, Transfer from Cincinnati
Charisma Osborne will be the new leader of this team. She averaged 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists and knocked down a team high 53 three-pointers. The team’s next returning scorer is also back. Natalie Chou averaged 9.9 points and shot a team high 38.6 percent from beyond the arc. Senior Chantel Horvat is a big 6-2 guard who should continue to bring a solid, experienced option off the bench. Three Bruins either opted out of or missed last season with an injury. Kiara Jefferson and Kayla Owens are experienced guards who will add even more quality depth and Brynn Masikewich is a promising sophomore who only played in seven games as a freshman back in 2019-2020. Australian Izzy Anstey should suit up for the Bruins this year as well after not being able to join the team due to travel restrictions. Of course, Coach Close went out and grabbed some more experienced newcomers too. Four Division I transfers will look to make a big splash in Los Angeles. Ilmar’l Thomas may be the best of the bunch. The 5-10 forward absolutely dominated the AAC the last two years and averaged 23.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.2 blocks with the Bearcats last season. Angela Dugalic, a former five-star recruit, comes from Oregon where she saw limited playing time as a freshman. Guards Gina Conti and Jaelynn Penn have starting experience at major programs. Conti spent the better part of four years starting at Wake Forest and averaged 13.8 points, 4.6 assists and 1.8 stelas last year. Penn was a four-year starter at Indiana and is a solid all-around player who is a proven scorer. There are questions to answer, but in the end, UCLA has experience and talent. Once all these pieces come together, they will be one of the best teams in the Pac-12.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.4 (68th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 58.3 (39, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 40.0 (166, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.2 (125, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.7 (109, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.8 (72, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.1 (86, 3)
Rebound Margin: 6.3 (32, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.4 (76, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (13, 1)
Madness 2021 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#22 Dominique Darius