|Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford.|
It leaves UCLA down to four scholarship perimeter players: Bryce Alford, Norman Powell, Isaac Hamilton and Noah Allen. That's simply not even enough bodies to get through a full season of comfortably filling out playing time at the point guard, shooting guard and small forward spots. But you would have to believe that Allen won't likely play any significant minutes. So, the vast majority of the backcourt minutes (and we consider the small forward spot part of the backcourt) will have to be taken up by Alford, Powell and Hamilton.
But, very simply, each can't play 40 minutes per game.
Many discussions are ensuing on the BRO message board about who will start and, even moreso, who will play point guard, but those are secondary concerns compared to depth. Without another backcourt player on the roster for next season, the minutes are going to be grueling for Alford, Hamilton and Powell. It won't matter at all who starts, because all three of them could be playing 35+ minutes per game.
Whether Hamilton starts or not, he will, first, need some rest at the two/three, and then, secondly, have to play some point guard.
The staff will have to use Jonah Bolden at the small forward spot. First, it's then completely essential that Bolden does, indeed, qualify academically to enroll next season (which we've heard looks likely). Bolden is a 6-8ish, 200-pound forward who would be best suited to play the four in college, but has some quickness, moreso than say Kyle Anderson, and could possibly best defend the three spot among any other players on UCLA's roster. Kevon Looney, the 6-9 post, isn't as laterally quick as Bolden and is even more of a post, but he, too, has some athleticism, superior to, say, the Wear twins. Both will more than likely get some minutes at the three (and it probably works for them well since we're sure both consider themselves threes, as most power forwards do).
If the staff can even get just 15 minutes from Bolden/Looney at the three, it will still force Alford, Powell and Hamilton to play 35 minutes per game, each. Perhaps if they can get 5-8 minutes per game out of Allen, who hopefully, as a sophomore, will be able to hold up that responsibility, that could possibly reduce each of their minutes to 33 per game, which is far more manageable for a season.
Again, for one more year (and this goes back longer than just last season), it appears that a lack of overall team athleticism will hamstring UCLA's defensive capabilities, and force it into playing more zone that it probably would want to ideally.
Best Case Scenario: Bolden qualifies academically and enrolls, and besides bringing a great offensive game to the floor, shows he has the capability of guarding a three. Even if Hamilton starts, if Bolden can play 20+ minutes at the small forward spot, and enable UCLA to use some man defense during that time, that would be a significant development, and really relieve the potential fatigue issue in UCLA's backcourt.
This potential situation could all be relieved, at least to some degree, if this spring UCLA gets a backcourt player who is either from the 2014 class and comes in as a freshman or a transfer with immediately eligibility. Right now, the way the roster stands, fatigue (or potential injury) in the backcourt looms as probably the #1 limiting factor next season, even moreso than who starts or plays point guard.