As Arizona Dominates Pac-12, UCLA Builds for Future

UCLA Bruins Look Towards Future

The Pac-12 story of the year has been the dominance of Sean Miller’s Arizona basketball team. The undefeated Wildcats look like a lock to win the conference’s regular season title. While the other teams in the conference are looking up at the Wildcats, the UCLA Bruins are one of the few teams within striking distance, with only four losses of their own. 


In their first season under new head coach Steve Alford the focus on the team has  been the skill on the floor each night, rather than the off-court issues under coach Ben Howland. So far the team’s only losses have been to quality opponents like Duke and Arizona, with some convincing victories against tough teams like California and Arizona State mixed in. This first year has shown some promise in the way Alford’s system can translate to a big program like UCLA, with some exciting recruits coming in that should be well-suited for it as well.


One of the biggest recruits for UCLA next season will be Kevon Looney, a 6’9 forward out of Wisconsin. Looney was being heavily recruited by a number of Big Ten schools (Michigan State, Wisconsin), so his signing with UCLA was seen as a surprise by a number of observers and an indication of Alford’s recruiting ability. Looney was an important early commit for Alford and will be a tough rebounding presence for next year’s Bruins team. 


Jonah Bolden, another 6’9 forward, will likely start alongside Looney next year to form a formidable frontcourt. Bolden is from Australia, but has been playing at prestigious Findlay Prep in Nevada, a feeder program for Division I schools. Bolden gives more of an outside presence than Looney does, so the forwards’ skills will complement each other when they are out on the floor together. 


While Bolden and Looney are two big players that will intimidate opponents, center Thomas Welsh out of Loyola High School in Los Angeles will be the biggest player on the floor. Welsh stands at seven feet tall and was considered the west coast’s top center by a number of sources. He’ll be relied on to make the tough plays inside and by his pure size alone it will be tough for opposing teams to stop him.


Everyone knew that Steve Alford’s first recruiting class with UCLA would be a big deal, but it wasn’t known that he would bring in such big players. While this year’s team may be looking up at the Arizona Wildcats, the 2014 recruiting class won’t be looking up at anyone. With Alford in place it looks like the Bruins will be looming large for a number of years to come.