Monday, December 28, 2020
Merry Christmas 2020!!!
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Media availability Dec 21, 2020
Sunday, December 20, 2020
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Saturday, December 12, 2020
UCLA beats Marquette 69-60 improves to 5-1, 1-0. Go, Bruins!!! Bring on Kentucky!!!
UCLA beats San Diego 83-56. Improves to 4-1, 1-0.
UCLA beats Cal in first Pac-12 game 83-56. Bruins now 3-1, 1-0.
UCLA beats Seattle 78-52. Bruins now 2-1.
UCLA beats Pepperdine in 3 OT 107-98. Bruins now 1-1.
UCLA starts season with loss to SDSU 73-58
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
UCLA 2020-21 Men's Basketball Tipoff
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Information Guide 2020-21
Monday, August 10, 2020
UCLA’s Chris Smith withdraws name from NBA draft, will play senior season with Bruins
UCLA’s Chris Smith withdraws name from NBA draft, willplay senior season with Bruins
By BEN BOLCH
AUG. 3, 2020 11:27 AM
UPDATED 12:44 PM
The Pac-12 Conference’s most improved player could become its most valuable.
Chris Smith is returning to UCLA for his senior season, putting off the NBA for one more chance to continue his dramatic upward college trajectory. Sean Smith, Chris’ father, made the announcement Monday.
“Chris is returning to school due to too much uncertainty on both sides of the coin,” said Sean Smith, alluding to the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the cancellation of workouts for NBA prospects and a delayed draft. “He’ll finish his degree and work to improve in the areas he needs to improve on.”
Chris Smith’s return means that the core of a team that won 11 of its last 14 games during coach Mick Cronin’s debut season at UCLA will come back intact for the 2020-21 season. The Bruins will also add freshman Jaylen Clark and Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang, putting them in position to be considered among the frontrunners in the Pac-12. Juzang was granted a waiver giving him immediate eligibility.
“I’m returning for my senior year because I’d really like to finish what I’ve started at UCLA,” Smith said in a statement posted on Twitter. “We have some unfinished business and I want one last run with my teammates and coaches. These guys mean the world to me. It’s also very important to me to finish up strong in the classroom and earn my degree.”
Smith was UCLA’s leading scorer and a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last season, averaging 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. But he was projected as a borderline second-round pick in the NBA draft and withdrew his name from the pool of early entrants after the draft was pushed back from June to October because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The uncertainty surrounding Smith’s draft stock and his inability to significantly enhance it were compelling reasons for a return to college. NBA teams had been barred from conducting in-person workouts or interviews with prospects in recent months because of the novel coronavirus, resulting in little movement among previous draft projections.
“Chris is one of the best kids I’ve ever coached — he’s always got a positive attitude, he allows me to coach him and he’s just a great kid — so selfishly for me just to be able to be around him for another season, I’m happy about it,” Cronin said. “From start to finish this year, hopefully he can play with more consistency and show that he’s a first-round talent. I think there’s people that think that but they weren’t convinced of it in the draft and coming back’s going to give him the opportunity to convince people.”
Smith intrigued NBA scouts as an athletic 6-foot-9 guard with considerable upside and as someone who just turned 20 in December.
His improvement came in all facets of his game last season, when he set career highs in not just points and rebounds but also assists (1.6 per game), steals, (1.0), field-goal accuracy (45.8%), three-point accuracy (34.1%) and free-throw accuracy (84%).
His stock soared with a 30-point outburst against Colorado in late January before questions about consistency reemerged when he was held to single digits in scoring in four of his next eight games. He also could be sloppy with his ballhandling and prone to committing turnovers in bunches, including six during the Bruins’ season-ending loss to USC.
But his return will make him the presumptive go-to scorer on a team that will bring back all five starters and should be able to avoid the early season doldrums that left UCLA with a 7-6 record last season after the end of nonconference play. If things work out, Smith will improve his draft stock and maybe add another Pac-12 award to a growing collection of conference hardware.
Sunday, August 9, 2020
Fishwrap pieces on Peyton Watson commitment to UCLA for 2021
Familiarity breeds content as top prospect PeytonWatson picks UCLA
By BEN BOLCH | STAFF WRITER | LA Times | JULY 27, 2020 6:07 PM
Peyton Watson visited Arizona. He visited Washington. He visited Gonzaga.
He picked UCLA.
The Bruins scored one of their biggest recruiting coups under coach Mick Cronin on Monday evening when the fast-rising prospect from Long Beach Poly High verbally committed to a school he did not officially visit because he was already familiar with what it had to offer.
UCLA was close to home, allowing the 6-foot-7 guard ranked as the eighth-best prospect nationally by 247 Sports to play in front of family and friends after completing his senior year of high school during the 2020-21 season. He will also be able to attend many of his younger brother Christian’s high school games. And the Bruins’ list of famous alumni including Watson favorites Russell Westbrook and Zach LaVine provided further enticement.
“I’ve been following UCLA closely for a long time,” Watson, who has developed relationships with other notable Bruins alumni including Matt Barnes, Darren Collison, Trevor Ariza and Baron Davis, told The Times on Monday.
Watson became one of the nation’s most coveted players after flourishing at a USA Basketball Camp last summer and taking on a far more prominent role for his high school team last season, averaging 23.2 points and eight rebounds per game. He said he envisioned playing point guard, shooting guard and small forward at the college level while contributing in a variety of ways.
Cronin echoed that vision while recruiting Watson.
“He just told me that he could see me doing it all for UCLA — rebounding, dishing it, dribbling, initiating the offense but also scoring the ball as well,” Watson said of Cronin, who cannot comment on recruits until they sign binding letters of intent.
Watson’s commitment significantly enhances a 2021 recruiting class that also includes Will McClendon, a four-star shooting guard from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High. Watson said he’s committed to attending college and would not opt for the lucrative G League academy like Daishen Nix, the onetime UCLA signee who spurned the Bruins for professional basketball.
While Watson went from coming off the bench to starring for the Jackrabbits in the span of one season, he said his rise was not as fast as it might have seemed.
“I wouldn’t say I’m an overnight success, even if that’s how people saw it,” Watson said. “It took years for me to get to where I am, and it’s going to take more years for me to ultimately get to my prime and be the best I can be.”
Watson said he’s working on enhancing his strength to help his ballhandling, long-range shooting and ability to jostle with bigger players near the basket.
The novel coronavirus pandemic that resulted in a premature end to UCLA’s season and has prevented most players from returning to campus may have worked to the Bruins’ advantage when it came to Watson. He had already attended a handful of UCLA games and knew the campus well before travel outside of Southern California became problematic.
“Knowing that we couldn’t take [additional] visits, we were more inclined to make the decision to go to UCLA,” said Watson, whose uncle Brantley Watson graduated from the school. “We knew a lot about UCLA that we could definitely see ourselves there.”
Feature: Behind The Scenes Of Peyton Watson’s UCLA Commitment
Long Beach Poly senior-to-be Peyton Watson announced his commitment to play his NCAA basketball at UCLA last week, live on a national platform with Fox Sports. It was a thrilling couple of days for Watson and his family, who’ve been working towards this point since he was a toddler.
“It was by far the most exciting day of my life, ever,” said Watson. “The whole day felt like a dream, way more than what I would have expected. It was just so fun.”
Watson made the announcement live with Fox, and was immediately the top story on ESPN, Bleacher Report, and all the college basketball websites. That night, legendary KCBS television sportscaster Jim Hill pulled up to the Watsons’ house in Bixby Knolls to interview him, which brought out all the neighbors to take pictures.
“That’s a dream come true, honestly,” said Watson. “I’ll remember that forever, the news pulling up to my house on commitment day. I’ve seen him on TV my whole life, it was surreal to see him in the neighborhood.”
The surreal scenes didn’t end that evening either, as the family woke up to see Dick Vitale tweeting about how good Watson’s game was, and what a big deal it was for UCLA to keep California’s top recruit home in Southern California.
“Yeah, Dick Vitale was nuts to me,” said Antoinette Watson, Peyton’s mother. “And Snoop Dogg called Pey right after he announced, so that was crazy–we listen to a lot of Snoop. Matt Barnes, Trevor Ariza all checked in with him.”
Peyton said a lot went into his decision, including considerations about the COVID-19 pandemic, which has limited travel. Part of the reason for Watson to stay home was that his family would still be able to see him, and he’ll still be able to go to Poly games to see his younger brother Chris.
“It was by far the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” said Peyton. “I built relationships with all the coaches, we had multiple coaches really pressing. They all had nice facilities, they all produce pros. At the end of the day, UCLA just felt like home for me.”
It’s a decision keeping in line with the chart Watson has charted for himself as an old-school type of player. He declined to transfer to a private school or prep program, choosing to play all four years at his local public high school–he said he finds UCLA to have a similar big public school family vibe to Poly.
“They’re the original blue blood and they’re in our backyard,” he said.
Watson’s commitment also means he’s come to the end of the full-time job of being a major college basketball recruit, something that’s occupied quite a bit of time over the last 12 months.
“I’m relieved I’m not waking up to texts at 4 a.m. because the coaches are texting from another time zone,” said Antionette with a laugh. “It’s a relief to not have the phone buzzing all the time. Peyton took the brunt of it–we were so brand new to this process we didn’t have a system set up for it. It was exciting, but I’d look at his phone and there’s 300 text messages, and his DMs are worse. The messages that adults and college students are sending are crazy.”
There are a few more difficult decisions ahead of Watson, but he’s already made them. It’s become a trend over the last year for elite basketball prospects to sign G-League contracts with NBA teams right out of high school, bypassing the NCAA completely. Watson said that isn’t something that interested him.
“Salute to the guys who went to the G-League this year,” he said. “I’m 17, I’m still a kid. If I can’t go straight to the league, I’m going to college to get that experience, mature, get stronger, and continue my education. Whether it’s a year or four years, there’s a value to being at a school like UCLA, that sets you up forever. All the colleges have the program where even if you leave early, you can come back and finish your degree on scholarship.”
The other decision is what to do with his senior season. All basketball players in California are looking at a decision between high school basketball and AAU ball, since the CIF State pushed the high school season to a March start. Watson said he’s done with club ball, and will focus on his high school.
“I’m 100% focused on my senior season with Poly,” he said. “All I’m hoping is we can have a normal season. Playing at home, in front of our fans, is the best thing. We’ll be amazing this year.”
As the whirlwind recruitment is coming to an end, the family is enjoying some quiet time together, with Peyton and Chris both finding time to practice and train.
Their father, Julio, said he’s enjoyed the process, even with its stresses.
“I’ve been with them all along,” he said. “It was surreal and amazing and all the superlatives the last few days, but I just always believed somewhere that we’d be at this point. Seeing Jim Hill and the excitement of the UCLA fan base has been surprising–but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect this.”
Top California prospect Peyton Watson commits to UCLA
july 27, 2020 | jeff borzello | espn.com
Top-25 prospect Peyton Watson committed to UCLA on Monday, giving the Bruins the top-ranked player from the state of California for the first time since 2018.
Watson chose UCLA over a long list of schools that included Gonzaga, Washington, Arizona, Oregon and Michigan.
"I'm the No. 1 player in California, and I feel like UCLA is the original blue blood," Watson told ESPN. "It's hard to pass up an amazing school where my parents can see me play and have the support of my community behind me."
Watson, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard from Long Beach Polytechnic High School, is ranked No. 25 in the ESPN 100 for 2021. He averaged 23.5 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists last season.
Watson took official visits to Gonzaga, Washington and Arizona and went to UCLA multiple times unofficially for games.
"I'm a huge family guy," Watson said. "It means a lot to me that my family will be able to come to the games."
Watson is Mick Cronin's second ESPN 100 commitment in the 2021 class, joining four-star shooting guard Will McClendon. Cronin's first full recruiting class in Westwood included just one player, four-star Jaylen Clark, following five-star point guard Daishen Nix's decision to bypass college for the G League.
Cronin also landed Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang, a former top-30 recruit who received a waiver to play immediately next season for the Bruins.
When Watson arrives on campus, he'll join a team that will remain mostly intact from the 2020-21 season, with only one senior expected on that team.
"I think I can make a huge impact immediately with my versatility and skill set," he said. "My goal is to lead UCLA to a national championship."
Five-Star Wing Peyton Watson Commits to UCLA
Long Beach Poly’s Peyton Watson commits to UCLA men’s basketball
By ADAM GROSBARD | email@example.com | Southern California News Group
Friday, August 7, 2020
2021 Recruiting: Peyton Watson verbally commits to UCLA
5 Star Peyton Watson WANTS ALL THE Smoke! Elite Guard OFFICIAL Junior Year Mixtape!!
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
From April 15 - UCLA Men's Hoops Signs Jaylen Clark, Johnny Juzang
Johnny Juzang 6-6 214 guard Harvard-Westlake High School, Los Angeles, CA
(transferred from Kentucky)
UCLA Men's Hoops Signs Jaylen Clark, Johnny Juzang
LOS ANGELES – The UCLA men's basketball program has received a signed National Letter of Intent from high school senior Jaylen Clark and a grant-in-aid from Johnny Juzang on the first day of the regular signing period, as announced Wednesday by Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach.
Clark, a 6-foot-5 guard from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., excelled last season at Etiwanda High School. Juzang, a 6-foot-6 guard from Los Angeles, will transfer to the Bruins' program after he spent his freshman year at the University of Kentucky. Both players will join the Bruins' program in 2020-21 – Clark as a freshman and Juzang as a sophomore.
"Both of these young men are great additions for our program," Cronin said. "Jaylen comes from a great family. He's a true competitor with tremendous athleticism, and he has gone up against some of Southern California's best high school programs. I love that he can play almost any position on the floor. We believe he will develop into a great player for us. During his senior year, he was able to lead his team in multiple ways – some games as the leading scorer, others as the top rebounder, and other games with his assists. Jaylen has been a proven winner at the highest levels of high school basketball, in addition to the national AAU circuit. We are very excited that he chose to be a Bruin."
"Johnny is coming home to be a Bruin, and we're thrilled to have him join us in Westwood. He and I have spent a lot of time on the phone under these ongoing pandemic restrictions, even though we're just three miles from each other. It's been great getting to know him. He has a terrific support system with his family, and I know he's excited to get started at UCLA. He's always been a talented scorer, and he proved that at Kentucky when he had opportunities. He excelled at a terrific high school, and he certainly has a chance to develop into an outstanding all-around player. Johnny has learned the value of hard work and perseverance, especially during his last season. He wants to help UCLA win big and that means a lot to me. We're thankful he chose to become a Bruin, and I can't wait to thank him in person and get to work."
Clark has been ranked as high as No. 63, nationally, in his high school class by Rivals.com. He secured All-CIF Southern Section Open Division honors last season, helping guide Etiwanda to a 30-4 overall record and an appearance in the CIF-SS Open Division regional final after a semifinal victory over Mater Dei. Clark averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He earned second-team all-state acclaim in California from MaxPreps.com and was a first-team all-area selection by the San Bernardino Sun.
Juzang played in 28 games as a freshman at Kentucky in 2019-20, making two starts. He scored a season-high 13 points in a game at Tennessee on Feb. 8, shooting 3-for-3 from beyond the 3-point arc in 24 minutes. Juzang finished his freshman campaign having averaged 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.
Juzang had been ranked among the top 35 players in his high school class at Harvard-Westlake in 2018-19, listed as high as No. 29 (by ESPN.com). He reclassified during his final year of high school, averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists as a junior in 2018-19. That season, he was named the MVP of the Mission League. He earned first-team All-CIF Southern Section Division I acclaim in each of his three years at Harvard-Westlake.
Both Clark and Juzang will join an incoming UCLA class that also features guard Daishen Nix, who recently concluded his high school career at Trinity International School in Las Vegas. Nix, a 6-foot-5 guard who signed a National Letter of Intent in November 2019, has been ranked as high as No. 11 in his high school class by 247Sports.com. In addition, Nix has been rated the nation's top point guard by 247Sports.com.