UCLA Basketball: Complete Roster, Season Preview for 2014-15 Bruins

After a successful first year at UCLA, head coach Steve Alford will have to rely on a lot of youth to keep the momentum into the 2014-15 season.

Between graduations and the NBA draft, the Bruins return just 33.7 percent of their scoring, 26.9 percent of their assists and 34.9 percent of rebounds from last season, each category ranking 10th in the Pac-12

Only three of the eight regular rotation members from last year’s Sweet 16 team return, making things difficult for the entire squad. If this group wants to make a run in the NCAA tournament, it will need its returning members to step up their efforts while the new players get acclimated very quickly.

Otherwise, this could end up being a long season in Westwood.

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Kobe Paras: Video Highlights for UCLA Recruit

The UCLA Bruins have already secured a commitment from prized Filipino basketball recruit Kobe Paras for their 2016 class.    

Sharing a first name with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is reason enough to buzz about Paras’ skills and decision to take his talents to one of the most storied college programs.

And that’s not even to mention the fact that he dunked on LeBron James in July 2013 at a Nike Witness Exhibition Show in Manila:

Paras is slated to be a part of the Bruins’ 2016 recruiting class and is listed as a 3-star prospect by 247Sports’ composite rankings, which place him as the 37th-ranked shooting guard and inside the top 200 overall nationally in his class.

The young, budding star’s coach at Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, William Middlebrooks, insists Paras has more to offer than his ability to throw down highlight-reel jams.

“Most know him for his dunking, but he can shoot the three, dribbles and passes,” said Middlebrooks, per the Los Angeles TimesEric Sondheimer. “He’s highly skilled and is adapting to the style of play in America.”

Paras is eager to prove himself as an all-around player, too.

“I want to show everybody it’s not all about dunking or highlights,” said Paras, per Sondheimer. “It’s about what you do on the court.”

The highlight of Paras soaring over James, even though the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar wasn’t selling out to deny him at the rim, shows off Paras’ evident hops and raw athleticism.

That was on display yet again at the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championships, when he took home the top prize in the Honda Dunk Contest:

With some celebratory dance moves to boot, Paras certainly doesn’t shy away from the spotlight. That will be a vital intangible to maintain as he makes his eventual transition to UCLA—and in adjusting to the U.S. brand of basketball in general.

TJ Manotoc, a sportscaster in the Philippines, noted the significance Paras’ sport of choice has in his homeland—and how it will only lend to an even greater following.

“Basketball is a religion here,” said Manotoc, via Sondenheimer. “The only time kids on the street don’t play ball is when Manny Pacquiao has a fight.”

Being mentioned in the same breath as Bryant, James and Pacquiao is some gaudy company, and it’s part of the reality that Paras will have to deal with as he makes the transition to college. There is still time for Paras to hone his skills at the high school level, but his natural knack for playing above the rim will serve him well as he continues his promising development.

The reason Paras may not be as highly regarded in recruiting rankings is due to the fact that he’s only been seen in flashes so far. At 6’5″, he has ideal height for a 2-guard and can boost his stock by showing off his versatility as a senior at Cathedral.

A lot of pressure will be on Paras to live up to the immense hype he’s generated back home and now stateside with his decision to attend UCLA. So far, he appears up to the task from a playing and personality standpoint.

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UCLA signs coach Steve Alford to extension

UCLA signs basketball coach Steve Alford to 1-year contract extension through 2020-21 season



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UCLA signs coach Steve Alford to extension (Yahoo Sports)

UCLA head coach Steve Alford speaks to players during the first half in a regional semifinal game against the Florida at the NCAA college basketball tournament, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford is getting a one-year contract extension through the 2020-21 season one year after arriving in Westwood.

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Steve Alford and UCLA Agree on New Contract: Latest Details and Reaction

Coming off of the school’s best NCAA tournament performance since 2008, the UCLA Bruins have rewarded head coach Steve Alford with a contract extension. 

According to Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports, Alford’s agreement with the Bruins is a one-year pact that takes his deal through the 2020-21 season:

Alford took over a fledgling UCLA program under Ben Howland last year and made an immediate impact. The Bruins won 28 games in the regular season and made it to the Sweet 16 before losing to Florida. It was the first time since 2011 that UCLA won a tournament game. 

However, Alford’s task this season will be difficult because he lost Zach LaVine, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson to the NBA. The Bruins head coach doesn’t seem to mind rebuilding his roster, telling Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News he relishes the challenge.

“You have to have recruiting classes back-to-back-to-back to really establish yourself,” Alford said. “Because you want the attrition. If you get guys that are being drafted, that means good things are happening and you obviously want that to happen.”

It certainly sounds like Alford has the magic elixir to keep talent coming to UCLA, as 247Sports lists the Bruins as having the seventh-best recruiting class for the 2014 season and three recruits ranked as a 4-star or better. 

Even Daniels of Scout.com pointed out that Alford’s recruiting track record is even more impressive when you factor in what he did upon first arriving at UCLA:

Despite the incoming talent, Alford will undoubtedly have his work cut out for him in the 2014-15 season. He’s one of the few coaches equipped to deal with a new roster and a mountain of expectations, coming to UCLA following years of declining results under Howland. 

Alford has had success everywhere he’s been, leading three schools to the NCAA tournament and winning at least 20 games in nine of the last 10 years. There might be impossible standards to meet at UCLA because of John Wooden’s looming shadow, but being a product of Bob Knight from his playing days at Indiana, Alford is going to do just fine. 

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UCLA increasing premium student seating at Pauley (Yahoo Sports)

In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012, a new video board at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles. The UCLA Bruins honor their championship past and address the future in the $132 million renovation to be unveiled on Nov. 9 when they host Indiana State in their men’s basketball season opener. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — UCLA is increasing by nearly a quarter the number of student seats in the lower bowl of Pauley Pavilion for men’s basketball games this season.

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Jaylen Brown planning to visit Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA

Jaylen Brown talks USA Camp, upcoming visits, AP Psychology and more in his latest blog.



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College basketball countdown: No. 29 UCLA

USA TODAY Sports breaks down the projected NCAA tournament field of 68.



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UCLA Basketball: Breaking Down the Bruins’ Nonconference Schedule

Now that UCLA has released its official schedule for the 2014-15 season, it’s time to unleash the analysis and predictions.

On par with past seasons, the Bruins’ nonconference slate doesn’t feature very many challenges early on. However, Steve Alford’s request for tougher non-conference opponents will be met this year when his squad meets up with Gonzaga and Kentucky in late December.

The Bruins could use a few benchmark games to look forward to after a tough past week, which included losing two players to eligibility (see: Jonah Bolden and Jon Octeus)

With the season set to tip off in a mere six weeks, here’s a breakdown of the nonconference lineup UCLA is set to face, from bench-exhausting wins to potential upsets.


*See last slide for UCLA’s full 2014-15 schedule

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UCLA denies admission to former Colorado State point guard Jon Octeus

What his next course of action is remains unclear.



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