After bringing in the most heralded recruiting class in the country, can Ben Howland resurrect his UCLA Bruins and return them to Pac-12 glory? There is a big if involved here. While playmaking wing Kyle Anderson has finally been cleared by the NCAA, Shabazz Muhammad has not yet cleared his status and to top it off, he suffers from a should injury. He is the crucial backcourt piece that the team has lacked in recent years even with Malcolm Lee, Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook. Muhammed has huge potential to not just lead the league in scoring, but be one of the top performers in the nation.
But even with Muhammed's status up in the air, the Bruins boast one of the country's very best frontcourts. Travis and Davis Wear look slimmed down, more athletic and more fundamentally sound in the low post, which is a great sign for Howland considering they combined to average 22 points and 12 rebounds in 2011-12. Add in Joshua Smith, who's ceiling is still limited by his massive waistband. And then there are talented freshmen Jordan Adams and Tony Parker, both eligible and ready to contribute as shown by steady numbers in UCLA's summer trip overseas.
So that brings us back to the backcourt. With no Muhammed, it's likely that Larry Drew, a UNC transfer, will remain the starting point guard, but Kyle Anderson, a natural point-forward, will move to shooting guard. David and Travis Wear will lockout the forward positions, and Tony Parker or Joshua Smith could start at center; last season, because of poor conditioning, Smith came off the bench for 24 games and could be the first big off the bench again this season.