With the addition of Wanna Bail it seems likely the 2013-14 UCLA basketball roster is complete. So it seems like a good time for a depth chart right? But here is the problem; 40% of the team is new, there is a new coach, a likely MVP whose position is NA, no clear point guard, etc. This is really a fool's errand. I am really guessing on incomplete data and will certainly change my mind long before the season starts.
So let me begin by cheating. Instead of a traditional depth chart, I will pick three leading categories. Leading Scorer, Jordan Adams type Surprise, and the No Way.
Here are the details of the leading scorers from each of Coach Alford seasons at New Mexico.
Kendall Williams, Junior, G, 6'4", 13.3 points (also led in assists)
Drew Gordon redshirt Junior, PF/Center 6'9" 13.7, (led in rebounds)
Dairese Gary, Senior, PG, 6'1", 14.1, (led in assists)
Darington Hobson, Junior, PF, 6'7", 15.9 (led team in rebounds and assists)
Tony Dandridge, redshirt Senior, SG, 6'5", 14.9
J.R. Giddens, redshirt Senior, SG, 6'5", 16.3 (led team AND conference in rebounding)
A few notes on this list. Every year an upperclassman led New Mexico in scoring under Alford. (By comparison at UCLA it was 3 out of 6 for the same period). This could mean a number of things and it is hard to speculate. The second number that jumps out is the leading scorer also seems to be the best offensive player, leading the team in rebound or assists six times in six years. What also sticks out is the fact that every position led the team in scoring.
The last time an underclassman led an Alford coached team in scoring? Redshirt sophomore Pierre Pierce at Iowa in 2003-4, yes that Pierce.
So what does this mean for UCLA? I will make the following guesses:
- a freshman does not led UCLA in scoring.
- Jordan Adams may not be the lock that most people think to lead UCLA in scoring.
- If you are looking for an upperclassman to led UCLA in scoring, it comes down to two, Travis Wearand Norman Powell.
- While everyone focuses on Tony Parker who should have played more last year, Norman Powell may be the returning player who benefits the most from Coach Alford. Powell was dominant in practice at times last year and has shown flashes of something more. He was obviously hampered by Howland's system which made him a three shooter too much.
- Travis Wear may not be as big a stretch as many think. He led UCLA in scoring multiple times last year. Before he got hurt, he was really rolling on offense and carried UCLA to its first two PAC 12 road wins against Colorado and Utah
I am not ready to go out on a limb and predict Travis as the leading scorer yet. Adams is the safe bet. However, I could see a scenario where Travis with 13.3 or so points leads UCLA in scoring next season.
Jordan Adams Surprise
Last year I confidentially predicted Jordan Adams as likely the odd man out of the rotation. Opps. I was relying on scouting reports and press reports. I had never seen Adams play. Adams at the time was buried on the depth chart behind Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Tyler Lamb, and Norman Powell. With Shabazz out early, Tyler Lamb hurt, and Anderson washing out as a wing, Jordan made the best of his chance and never looked back.
For this season, I would say that Noah Allen is likely the odd man out. I have never seen him play.
I think there are two guys likely to have a decent shot at surprising people. As mentioned above, Norman Powell could become the leading scorer on this team and finally use his great athletic talent to the fullest.
But I will go with Bryce Alford. While some are arguing the kid should not have a scholarship or comparing him to Rick Neuheisel's son, I think he will contribute right away. Not a star but an important role player.
So if you are betting take Noah Allen.
The No Way
A number of years back, I drew the wrath of my friends British Bruin when I predicted Malcolm Lee would be a comparable defender to Arron Afflalo and Russell Westbrook. In the brief times the 2009-10 Bruins played man to man, I saw Lee shut down some really good players. Even the zone that terrible team was forced to play was so much better when he was in the game. British Bruin called me a heretic for daring to compare Lee to AA and RW, which considering how bad the 2009-10 played was certainly reasonable. Malcolm Lee was an amazing defender in 2010-11 and my "no way" pick turned true.
I wish I could say something positive here. To be frank, I am worried about Tony Parker. Yes he got screwed by Howland. David Wear should have given many of his minutes to Parker. But it seems many are penciling in Parker as a lock starter and star because of his potential and figuring everything wrong with Parker was Howland's fault.
I am not sure that is the case. In the Minnesota game, Parker killed the momentum with a dumb play. He fouled a lot when he was in games. I have never been sure of Parker's head. It takes bigs longer to develop and Howland did Parker no favors last year by playing him so little. I am not saying Parker is bad or anything of that sort, I am just saying I am not sure as sophomore he will be ready to be a starting PAC 12 Center for a good team. Thus, my "no way" prediction is that the starting center next year may well be Travis Wear. Don't shoot the messenger.
In honor of Achilles pregame guesses I ask you in your response to pick your guess for leading scorer, assists and rebounds. I pick Adams, Kyle Anderson, and Kyle Anderson. (If Anderson does it, he would be the first since Bill Walton.)