The UCLA Men’s Basketball team kicks off the season in less than a week with a non-conference home game at Pauley Pavilion against Long Beach State at 8pm on Wednesday.
But there remain some questions yet to be answered.
With the departures of guard Jaylen Hands and forward Kris Wilkes, along with center Moses Brown to the NBA, a new set of determined, but young student athletes step up into their roles with just as much talent and possibilities.
Redshirt freshman point guard Tiger Campbell has created a buzz with his ability to exert the opposing team’s players into submission with his suffocating defense. Campbell’s relatively small frame (5-feet, 11 inches) may catch some off guard, but make no mistake — the guard can distribute the ball to his teammates and score at will.
Shareef O’Neal, another redshirt freshman and son of NBA Hall of Fame player, Shaquille O’Neal, also prepares to make his debut. O’Neal is the length like his father, standing at 6’9, but his game is far from similar to his father’s. Shareef is well-rounded and can handle the ball in any situation with the ability to step back and hit a perimeter shot, something that his father was not known for. He is a mismatch for any guards because of his size and is a nightmare against opposing big men because of his lateral quickness and ball-handling abilities.
Throw in two true freshmen in 6’7 forward Jaime Jaquez from Camarillo High School and 6’6 forward/guard Jake Kyman from Santa Margarita High School, who can both handle the ball with elite versatility and have both proven that they can score.