In 2009 six of ten Pac-10 schools made the NCAA Tournament. In the three years since only eight schools have made the dance, and last year the top seed (Colorado) was an 11.
UCLA, for their part, hasn’t been a 1-seed since 2008. And the Pac-12 (or Pac-10) – right or wrong – goes as UCLA goes. In the ACC if Duke or UNC are down then the conference is perceived as being down. The same holds true with UCLA and the Pac-12. And UCLA has been down. Way down.
But that all changed when the nations consensus No. 2 recruit (Shabazz Muhammad) and No. 3 recruit (Kyle Anderson) committed to the Bruins. Those two are joined by Tony Parker (No. 19) and Jordan Adams (No. 68) in what is easily the best recruiting class in the nation.
Hope – and a bit of swagger – are back at Pauley Pavilion.
The Bruins lost Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson out of their back court who were solid, but unspectacular players. Now they have Larry Drew (transfer from UNC) and Muhammad to step in to those roles. They also lost Reeves Nelson from the front court who is likely addition by subtraction. And the Bruins front court – at least on paper – will be one of the best in the nation. Josh Smith, the Wear twins, the new guys. Look out.
But how good will UCLA be? Well, it won’t take long to find out.
They’ll either get Georgetown or Georgia in the Legends Classic, and whatever the matchup is that’s a game they should win. Georgia was a bad team this past year, and Georgetown lost their three top players. If the Bruins survive the semi’s they’ll likely get preseason No. 1 Indiana in the final in what will be one of November’s marquee games.
Then on December 1st they’ll play a (likely) ranked San Diego State in Anaheim, and then a (likely) ranked Texas in Houston on December 8th. That’s potential for four games that a lot of people will be watching. And that’s four potential games that could build the foundation for a Bruins resurgence.