UCLA basketball roster: Starting lineup prediction, bench rotation, depth outlook for 2022-23 season

UCLA basketball roster: Starting lineup prediction, bench rotation, depth outlook for 2022-23 season

After returning nearly everyone from its magical 2021 Final Four run, UCLA is finally bidding farewell to some of the stalwarts of coach Mick Cronin’s early years on the job. Gone from a 27-8 team that reached the Sweet 16 in March are leading scorer Johnny Juzang, all-around wing Jules Bernard and trusty big man Cody Riley.

Bernard and Riley played 130 and 118 games, respectively, over four seasons, and Juzang was the team’s leading scorer for the past two. Their departures, along with farewells from bench wings Peyton Watson and Jake Kyman, mean UCLA will have a different look when the 2022-23 begins in November.

But in an era when rosters are often entirely overhauled in a single offseason, there is still plenty of experience on this Bruins squad and not a single transfer. If a loaded freshman class can blend with some of the familiar faces, this team is talented enough to overtake Arizona and claim its first Pac-12 regular-season title since 2013.

As the 2022-23 college basketball season creeps nearer, here’s a glimpse at how the starting lineup and rotation could shape up for a UCLA team ranked No. 10 in Gary Parrish’s Top 25 And 1.

Projected starting lineup

1.Tyger Campbell

5-11 | 180 | Redshirt-Sr.

Campbell will surpass 100 career starts early in the year as he enters his fifth season in the program. After redshirting in 2018-19 following a torn ACL, the former four-star prospect has become one of the nation’s steadiest point guards over the past three seasons. His assist-to-turnover ratio ranked sixth nationally last season, and he improved his 3-point shooting percentage from 25% to 41%.

2. Amari Bailey

6-5 | 185 | Fr.

Bailey is the headliner of the nation’s No. 13 recruiting class after finishing the 2022 recruiting cycle ranked as the No. 10 overall player in the country by 247Sports. The McDonald’s All-American looks like a safe bet to fill one of the starting spots opened by the departures of Juzang and Bernard. 247Sports basketball director Eric Bossi noted in Bailey’s scouting report that the combo guard shines off of ball screens and in transition, and Cronin praised him for being a “relentless competitor.”

3. Jaylen Clark

6-5 | 210 | Jr.

Clark is a natural candidate to claim a starting role after emerging as one of the Bruins’ top options off the bench in his sophomore season. In a five-game February run in the starting lineup, Clark averaged 14.8 points per game on a scorching 56.9% shooting before returning to the bench. Though just a career 24.3% 3-point shooter, Clark is effective inside the arc and could be UCLA’s best defender, which means he’s in line for big minutes this season.

4. Jaime Jaquez Jr.

6-7 | 225 | Redshirt-Sr.

Jaquez is UCLA’s leading returner in scoring, rebounding and steals. His 3-point shooting dropped to 27.6% last season from 39.4% as a sophomore, but there’s no question that he is the heartbeat of the team. His versatility and veteran status make him an indispensable part of the Bruins’ 2022-23 roster and a candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year.

5. Adem Bona

6-10 | 235 | Fr.

With big men Cody Riley and Myles Johnson departing, the front court is a question mark. As a five-star prospect and McDonald’s All-American, Bona could be a significant portion of the answer. Originally from Nigeria, he finished his high school career at Prolific Prep in Napa, California. When Bona signed, Cronin described him as a “quick, athletic big man with the best motor I have ever seen in a recruit.”

bench

David Singleton

6-4 | 205 | Redshirt Sr.
Singleton is a tried and true 3-point specialist with a career 43.8% mark from beyond the arc across 127 career appearances. As he uses the extra season of eligibility available because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singleton figures to be a reliable bench option to the tune of 15 to 20 minutes per game — and maybe more if he can become a positive on the defensive side .

Mac Etienne

6-10 | 230 | Redshirt-Fr.
After enrolling in the middle of the 2020-21 season, Etienne played in some high-leverage situations just weeks after arriving on campus. He missed last season due to an ACL tear, but if he’s 100% healthy, Etienne should play significant minutes in the front court this season.

Dylan Andrews

6-2 | 170 | Fr.
Andrews ranked as the No. 8 point guard and No. 42 overall point guard in the 2022 class, and he’ll be a natural understudy to Campbell. He may not log a ton of minutes unless Cronin is OK with playing Andrews and Campbell together, but he should be able to claim a role on this roster.

Will McClendon

6-10 | 225 | Redshirt-Fr.
McClendon is on the mend from a torn ACL he suffered last September, and that injury presumably put the former four-star prospect a little behind the curve in staking a claim to minutes. However, he should have plenty of opportunities to earn minutes during his second season on campus.

Kenneth Nwuba

6-10 | 255 | Redshirt-Sr.
Nwuba is a solid reserve center with 55 career appearances. He was particularly big off the bench in the 2021 NCAA Tournament during the Bruins’ surprising Final Four run. With a career average of just 5.2 minutes per game, it seems unlikely that Nwuba will play a major role, but he’s a competent reserve with experience in the program.

Depth

Abramo Canka | 6-7 | 200 | Fr.
Canka signed on Aug. 3 as a late addition to the 2022-23 roster. The Italian product was described by Cronin as a “versatile player who can shoot the ball, rebound and pass.” In particular, the Bruins were drawn to his potential defensive versatility. UCLA has walk-ons Russell Stong, Jack Seidler, Evan Manjikian and Logan Cremonesi on the roster, too.

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