While Moses Brown is too good to sit and David Singleton seems to fit the intangibles this team needs whether it is as backup point guard or outside shooter, Jules Bernard looks like a freshman. There’s nothing wrong with that because he also looks like a heck of a prospect.
247Sports.com calls Bernard “an athletic wing with quite a bit of upside. He has a good frame with long arms....”
247Sports Composite Rankings tab him as the 55th best player in the 2018 recruiting class. In addition to UCLA, he was also recruited by Kansas. He is a great recruit even if he looks raw.
If I had to guess and this is REALLY a guess, I would say Jules likely is the eighth or ninth man. For the sake of argument, let’s say Bernard is the eighth man on this team. Let’s compare him to Alford’s other eight men with their recruiting rankings via 247sports in parenthesis:
2018-19 GUESS Jules Bernard (4-star, 55 nationally)
2017-18 Chris Smith (3-star, 141)
2016-17 Gyorgy Goloman (3-star, 353)
2015-16 Alex Olesinski (3-star, 291)
2014-15Gyorgy Goloman (3-star, 353)
2013-14 Tony Parker(5-star, 24)
A couple thoughts on this....
1. With the exception of Tony Parker, who was a highly prized recruit and was playing on basically a Ben Howland holdover team in the first year of Steve Alford, the eighth man in minutes played at the end of the season was a relatively low recruited non-athletic big. Smith did/does play guard/wing but, at least for now, Smith seems out of position there. There were really all fours or power forwards.
2. If he really is the eighth (or ninth) man, this is the deepest Alford team ever since the first team was really a Ben Howland team.
3. Bernard is the best athlete, by far, on the above list.
So what about Jules’ game? The first thing one notices about Jules is that he is a lefty. I honestly think this is a small advantage, especially when you can drive as hard to the hoop as Bernard. Check out his Senior Mix Tape by Beach City Hoops:
I like both of our [freshman] guards because they’re really physical....One’s a righty [Singleton]. One’s a lefty [Jules]. But they present some of the same issues. They give a good physical presence. Jules is a much better driver. David’s probably the shooter right now and, so, David’s drive game has got to improve and Jules’ spot shot game has to improve.
I think Singleton’s game fits the team better right now. Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands can both attack the rim. Moses gives UCLA an inside presence on offense it has lacked since Tony Parker’s junior season when he was used as a low post. The team needs Singleton’s shooting right now more than Jules’ attacking the hoop. Furthermore, Singleton can help as the backup point. The word associated with Singleton seems to be poise, with Jules it is potential.
But, long term, Bernard is a very nice prospect. He is also a very good player to have as your eighth man. Shoot. Who knows? Maybe the bulked-up Wilkes plays some four when Cody Riley or Moses Brown are out and Jalen Hill becomes the eighth man following the Alford tradition of power forwards being in the eighth spot. Or Smith beats out Bernard for the backup three and wing.
Bottom line: the presence of Jules Bernard gives Alford very athletic depth and potential on the bench. Alford can match “small lineups,” press, and play more aggressive defense knowing his bench is deep. This should be his best defensive team. Will it be?