2003 Pac-10 Preview: UCLA

Part three in this ten-part series takes a look at perennial power UCLA. The Bruins once again have a plethora of talent on their roster, but it is accompanied by many question marks. Such as, who will play point guard if Cedric Bozeman struggles once again? Or, how long will it take until incoming freshman Evan Burns earns a starting job? As it is every year in Westwood, nothing is certain with a Steve Lavin-led team.

UCLA Bruins (Westwood, CA)
2001-02 record:
21-12 (11-7, Pac-10)
Postseason:
Lost, NCAA Sweet 16
Returning starters:
2

Projected Lineup: (*=returning starter; Incoming recruits in BOLD)
PG-Cedric Bozeman*, 6-6, 200 So. (4.0 ppg, 3.8 apg, .413FG%, .280 3pt%, .286FT%)
SG-Ray Young, 6-4, 210 Sr. (Redshirted in 2002 but has starting experience)
SF-Jason Kapono*, 6-8, 215 Sr. (16.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .459FG%, .453 3pt%, .856FT%)
PF-T.J. Cummings, 6-10 225 Jr. (7.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, .510FG%, .745FT%)
C-Michael Fey, 6-11, 245 Fr. (Non-qualifier in ‘01 will have four years of eligibility)

Bench:
Evan Burns, 6-8, 220 Fr. SF (22.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg; McDonald's All-American)

Dijon Thompson, 6-7, 200 So. G/F (4.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg, .429FG%, .271 3pt%, .870FT%)
Andre Patterson, 6-7, 205 So. F (2.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg in 9.2 mpg; Athletic and aggressive)
Ryan Walcott, 6-1, 180 So. PG (2.5 ppg, 1.2 apg in 10.4 mpg; Mike Bibby's cousin)
Jon Crispin, 6-0, 195 Jr. G (Transfer from Penn State sat out in 2002; good shooter)
Matt McKinney, 6-8, 200 Fr. F (Super athlete will also play volleyball at UCLA)

Josiah Johnson, 6-8, 240 So. PF (Son of Marques Johnson should get more minutes)
John Hoffart, 6-10, 280 Jr. C (Big body will be valuable for thin Bruins)
Marcedes Lewis, 6-6, 240 Fr. PF (Averaged 19pts and 11 rebs at Long Beach Poly)
Ryan Hollins, 6-11, 210 Fr. F/C (Originally signed with Saint Louis; might not be eligible in 2002-03 because of LOI issues)

Recruiting class grade: A
--If you include Crispin as part of this incoming class the Bruins really came away with an elite-level sextet. Fey will be expected to contribute immediately at the center position and Lewis will provide good depth after he finishes his time as the tight end for the Bruin football team. If Hollins is eligible, he gives UCLA tremendous frontcourt depth.
Gem of the Class:
Evan Burns, SF
--Burns is an explosive athlete with a good shooting touch and the ability to rebound the basketball. He dominated in the Jordan Brand Capital Classic all-star game late in the spring and showed why some believe he will start at the small forward spot from Day One in Westwood. If that's the case, expect Jason Kapono to move to shooting guard and give UCLA a flat out huge starting lineup.

Notes:
*As freshmen, Bozeman and Thompson (two of the more highly regarded players in the class of 2001) combined to shoot an abysmal 27.4% from three-point range. If that number doesn't improve dramatically, expect opposing teams to lay off them and sag down on Fey and Cummings in the paint.
*The Bruins lost 85.9 minutes, 36.3 points and 17.4 rebounds per game when Dan Gadzuric, Matt Barnes and Billy Knight graduated.
*Jason Kapono is a near lock to become only the fourth player in league history to be named 1st team All-Pac-10 four years in a row. He also needs just 392 points to surpass the 2,000-point mark for his career.
*UCLA became only the ninth school in NCAA history to win 1,500 games when the Bruins beat Washington on December 20, 2001 in Seattle. The Bruins' 69.8 winning percentage is fifth all-time behind Kentucky, North Carolina, UNLV and Kansas.
*Bruin incoming freshman Marcedes Lewis will begin the year on the football team. Lewis was rated the No. 1 tight end in the nation coming out of Long Beach Poly High School.
*If the Bruins' roster looks a little bit overloaded and like it carries two extra players than the NCAA allows, keep in mind that Lewis will be on a football scholarship and McKinney should be on a volleyball scholarship. Essentially, UCLA has 15 Division I quality basketball players on its roster. Who's going to redshirt?

2003 Expectations:
--It all starts with the play of the point guard Bozeman. If he plays well (and it will be hard not to play better than he did as a freshman) UCLA should contend for the Pac-10 title and be a threat to go deep into the NCAA Tournament come March. If he doesn't play well, the Bruins will again rely on walk-on sophomore Ryan Walcott to run the show. Depth will be a plus for Steve Lavin's club, as will size and athleticism. Kapono, Crispin and Young will be the shooters to keep an eye on.

Pac-10 Projection: Third
Postseason chances:
NCAA lock, probable Sweet 16 team

ASU http://www.arizona.theinsiders.com/2/52114.html
USC http://www.arizona.theinsiders.com/2/52191.html
UCLA (Today)
Tomorrow, Stanford
Saturday, Cal
Sunday, Oregon
July 1, Oregon State
July 2, Washington
July 3, Washington State
July 4, ARIZONA

Ben Hansen can be reached via e-mail at AZPointGuardU@yahoo.com


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