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Projecting next season's basketball depth chart

3/17/2010

UCLA coach Ben Howland's boys are on vacation, watching from home as the madness unfolds -- which means it's a perfect time to start thinking about next season.

We'll do the same.

The Bruins will presumably experience a madness of their own with players leaving and arriving in June. Gone are seniors Michael Roll, Nikola Dragovic and James Keefe. Redshirt junior Mustafa Abdul-Hamid may also leave to pursue graduate school.

With the 2010-11 season still eight months away, we offer an early look at UCLA's depth chart (this list assumes there will be no defections):

GUARDS

Malcolm Lee (junior) -- The 6-foot-4 off-guard mostly played the point this past season, but as much as he says he wants the ball in his hands, he looks much more comfortable at the two. Lee shot only 25 percent from beyond the arc, which does not bode well for a player that usually has the ball late in the shot clock.

Jerime Anderson (junior) -- Anderson lost his starting spot early in conference play and never recovered. He offered a glimpse of his potential in the final game of the season, scoring a career-high 15 points off the bench against California last Friday. If he improves half as much as he said he would this offseason, Anderson will be UCLA's point guard.

Mike Moser (sophomore) -- Moser saw limited action during the season, but there was not one guy that worked as hard as he did, at least from what reporters could see. Win or lose, Moser walked back onto the court in practice gear and worked on everything -- from his jumper to his dribbling -- long after games ended. His playing time will hinge on his ability to play defense, though. He has the length to be a Russell Westbrook-type defender.

Tyler Lamb (freshman) -- Lamb (click here for his recruiting profile) is enthusiastic to play under Howland. The No. 8-rated shooting guard comes from a perennial winner (Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif.), but with the way some recent highly-rated players have developed, there may be some hesitation among UCLA fans.

Lazeric Jones (sophomore) -- From ESPN's recruiting evaluation: "A strong point guard with a chiseled frame and a high IQ. Jones is very good at controlling the tempo of the game. He is very poised and is confident in every move he makes. Quick and athletic, Lazeric is very explosive and is good at slashing through defenses..."Again, all UCLA fans can do is wait and see.

FORWARDS

Reeves Nelson (sophomore) -- With the arrival of five-star center Josh Smith (Kentwood/Kent, Wash.), Nelson said the coaching staff told him he will start at the four next season. Nelson must find a mid-range game that was clearly not there this past season, as well as the ability to guard power forwards in man-to-man.

Tyler Honeycutt (sophomore) -- Honeycutt is perhaps UCLA's best athlete and a threat for a double-double every night. He still needs to add some bulk to be able to muscle his way inside.

Brendan Lane (sophomore) -- Lane wants to add at least 20 lbs. of muscle during the offseason -- something he said won't be very hard. He will need it after being outmatched in the paint by bigger and stronger postmen all season.

CENTERS

Josh Smith (freshman) -- Smith (click here for his recruiting profile) instantaneously helps UCLA in the size department. At 6-foot-9, he won't be the biggest center in the conference, but putting him and Nelson along one another won't hurt. Smith is a skilled offensive player, too.

J'mison Morgan (junior) -- It remains to be seen if Morgan stays in Westwood, but if he does, he's one of the guys that must improve mightily in order for the Bruins to return to the NCAA Tournament.

Anthony Stover (freshman) -- Howland used a redshirt year on Stover this season and said he should be a solid contributor next fall.

Projected starting five (with backups in parentheses):

  • G - Anderson (Jones)

  • G - Lee (Moser)

  • F - Honeycutt (Lamb)

  • F - Nelson (Lane)

  • C - Smith (Morgan)