#2 UCLA Men's Basketball 2021-2022 Preview

UCLA Bruins
2021-2022 Overall Rank: #2
Conference Rank: #1 Pac-12
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UCLA’s impressive run to the Final Four has certainly boosted their preseason hype. The Bruins snuck into the First Four and were all but beaten by Michigan State before mounting an epic comeback and beating the Spartans 86-80 in overtime. UCLA then beat BYU, Abilene Christian, Alabama and Michigan to reach the Final Four where they fell to Gonzaga in an overtime thriller. Before that though, this team had lost four straight games and were not looking anything like a top 25 team. But now Coach Mick Cronin has all five starters returning and if this group can maintain their success in the NCAA Tournament, they could be one of the best teams in the country.
2020-21 Record: 22-10, 13-6
2020-21 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mick Cronin
Coach Record: 41-22 at UCLA, 406-193 overall
Key Departed Players:
Chris Smith, Guard, 12.6 ppg
Jalen Hill, Forward/Center, 6.5 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Johnny Juzang, Junior, Guard, 16.0 ppg
Jaime Jaquez Jr, Junior, Guard/Forward, 12.3 ppg
Tyger Campbell, Junior, Guard, 10.4 ppg
Jules Bernard, Senior, Guard, 10.3 ppg
Cody Riley, Senior, Forward, 10.0 ppg
David Singleton, Senior, Guard, 4.7 ppg
Jake Kyman, Junior, Guard/Forward, 3.0 ppg
Mac Etienne, Freshman, Forward, 2.6 ppg
Jaylen Clark, Sophomore, Guard, 2.5 ppg
Kenneth Nwuba, Junior, Forward/Center, 0.1 ppg
Key New Players:
Myles Johnson, Senior, Center, Transfer from Rutgers
Will McClendon, Freshman, Guard
Peyton Watson, Freshman, Guard/Forward
Johnny Juzang became the star of UCLA during their tournament run. On the year he led the Bruins with 16.0 points per game. The 6-7 junior had perhaps his best game in the win over Michigan in the Elite Eight where he scored 28 of UCLA’s 51 points. Juzang needs to be more consistent, but he has the potential to carry this team. He will get help though from fellow backcourt starters Jaime Jaquez, Tyger Campbell and Jules Bernard. Jaquez is a 6-7 wing who tallied 12.3 points and 6.1 rebounds. Campbell, a junior point guard, added 10.4 points per game and a team high 5.4 assists. He has turned into a great floor leader who can dictate the speed of the game. Bernard is a quality all-around scorer and David Singleton has turned into a dangerous three-point shooter off the bench. Add in top ten recruit Peyton Watson and Coach Cronin has a versatile and talented to group on the perimeter. Cody Riley has kept improving during his three years at UCLA and tallied 10.0 points and 5.4 rebounds a year ago. As the team’s main post scoring threat, expect Riley to keep improving during his senior season. The addition of Rutgers transfer Myles Johnson will take the pressure off Riley on the defensive end. What was a young team that pulled together to reach the Final Four is now an experienced team with more depth and overall talent than they had a year ago. That could lead to a much more consistent season and UCLA’s first Pac-12 title since 2013.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.4 (114th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.4 (115, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.1 (63, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.1 (204, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (217, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.2 (36, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.5 (155, 7)
Rebound Margin: 3.7 (64, 4)
Assists Per Game: 13.7 (130, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.6 (13, 1)
Madness 2022 NBA Draft Rankings:
#25 Peyton Watson
Madness 2021 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#8 Peyton Watson
#50 Will McClenson