UCLA still has three out of four players from its stellar 2012 recruiting class, which is why the team manages to be ranked in the preseason Top 25 despite losing its best offensive contributor and starting at ground zero with a new coach.
Fortunately, Jordan Adams, the Bruins’ best all-around player for the 2012-13 season, has bounced back nicely from a broken metatarsal he sustained in his foot in the Bruins’ Pac-12 tournament semifinal against Arizona last season.
While his shooting in UCLA’s two exhibition games was rusty, he nevertheless managed to score a combined 41 points while foreshadowing another great season on defense with six steals.
Out of the sophomore trio, the Bruins don’t need to worry about Adams. They do, however, need to keep a close eye on the development of center Tony Parker and guard-forward Kyle Anderson.
Due to several impressive individual performances in his freshman season, Anderson was elected to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team, but there is still plenty of room for improvement for the 6’9” New Jersey native.
Although he’s a versatile scorer (2012: 9.7 PTS), resourceful rebounder (2012: 8.6 REB) and nifty passer (2012: 3.5 AST), he needs to work on his decision-making and his defense in order to become a fuller player.
Coach Steve Alford is expected to start Anderson at point guard to begin the season, which means Anderson will have to mature rapidly as a player if the Bruins are to have success.
Sophomore No. 2 who is in need of development—if not a drastic turnaround—is Tony Parker.
Under Ben Howland last season, Parker rarely played due to constantly getting himself into foul trouble, fouling out in seven minutes played in his last game as a freshman.
That all has to change this season, as the Bruins will need a strong, dependable inside presence in order to have any success this season.
So far, it seems as though Parker is taking the challenge seriously, evidenced by his determination to drop 20 pounds to become more agile in his sophomore season.