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From Beyond The Arc: 2023 Washington And UCLA Men’s Basketball Previews

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 01 UCLA at Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


Head coach Mike Hopkins is entering his seventh season coaching the Huskies. In his first two seasons, Washington reached the NIT in 2018 and the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2019, but have not seen postseason action since.

NCAA Basketball: Washington at UCLA Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the Huskies finished with a 16-16 record (8-12 Pac-12, T-8th). Their time in the Pac-12 tournament was brief, as they were defeated in the first round by Colorado, 74-68.

As a team, UW performed reasonably well on offense. They shot 43.1% from the field (31.3% from distance), and 74.9% from the line - better than their cumulative opponents shot. The Huskies came up short in rebounds, however, especially on the offensive glass, where they averaged 8.9 offensive rebounds per game to 13.19 for the opposition.

Washington’s four primary starters last season were 6-7 Sr. F Keion Brooks, Jr., 6-1 Fr. G Keyon Menifield, 7-1 Jr. C Braxton Meah, and 6-7 Sr. G Cole Bajema. Several others shared starts through the season, mostly due to player injuries - Franck Kepnang only played eight games before going down for the season with an ACL injury, and Noah Williams played 14 games with 10 starts, and was playing injured the whole time, for the most part.

The starters for the Huskies accounted for most of their production last season. Keion Brooks led in scoring, averaging 17.7 PPG in 35.4 MPG, playing and starting in all but two games. He shot 43.3% from the field (28.6% from downtown), and over 79% at the line. Brooks also had the second highest number of blocks on the team with 37.

Keyon Menifield played and in 32 games and started 21 times, averaging 10.0 PPG and 28.7 MPG. He shot 41% (33% from distance), and 69.8% at the line.

Braxton Meah played and started in 31 games, averaging 8.8 PPG and 27.4 MPG. He shot 70.6% from the field (does not shoot threes), and 69% from the line. Meah led the Huskies in blocks with 50.

Cole Bajema started in 30 of the 31 games he played, averaging 8.8 PPG and 29.7 MPG. He shot 39% from the field (36% from distance), and 85.1% from the line.

The Huskies only return six of their 15 players from last season’s roster. The only returning starters are Keion Brooks and Braxton Meah. (Presumably, a healthy Franck Kepnang would also be a starter).

Also returning are 6-8 Jr. F Samuel Ariyibi (no stats last season), 6-2 So. G Koren Johnson (played in 29 games, did not start), and 6-2 So. G Sam Slutske (only played a total of one minute in two games last season)

Graduate transfer Jamal Bey played in 31 games and started in 20 of those, but has exhausted his eligibility. Senior Anthony Iglesia’s playing time was insignificant last season, and it appears that he graduated and is playing in Europe. Noah Williams and Kyle Luttinen entered the portal but have not yet found a new school. Cole Bajema transferred to Utah, Langston Wilson went to Milwaukie, PJ Fuller II landed at Detroit Mercy, Jackson Grant chose Utah State, Kenyon Menifield transferred to Arkansas, and Tyler Linhardt went to Idaho.

The Huskies signed four newcomers in 2023.

Topping the freshmen is Wesley Yates III, a 4* 6-4 G from Beaumont, TX. He was the 37th-ranked prospect on ESPN’s Top-100.

Also signing is a 3*, 6-7 F from Kirkland, WA, Christian King.

Isaiah Sherrard is a 6-6 F From Westlake Village, CA.

Finally, UW signed another local product, 6-6 F Will Landram.

Nearly half of Washington’s squad last season was staffed by seniors, and only Keion Brooks comes back. The Huskies therefore had to tap the transfer portal for veteran leadership and depth, and have brought in the following players:

Syndication: Journal-Courier
Paul Mulcahy
Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Paul Mulcahy is a 6-7 graduate transfer from Rutgers. He started in 28 of the 30 games he played, and averaged 8.3 points per game, with 4.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Mulcahy shot 41.6% (37% from downtown), and 71.6% at the line.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Kentucky
#2 Sahvir Wheeler
Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Sahvir Wheeler is a graduate 5-9 G From Kentucky. He’s a productive point guard, but was beset with injuries last season. Wheeler shot 41.7% from the field (36.6% on the long ball), and 53.3% at the line.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Portland
Moses Wood
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Moses Wood is a 6-8 graduate transfer from Portland. Last season he averaged 15.3 PPG and 6.3 RPG, and shot 45% from the field, 40% from three-point range, and 84% at the line. Last season Wood was an All-WCC second team selection.

Nate Calmese is a 6-3 So, transfer from Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. He averaged 17.6 PPG, shooting 48% from the field and 37% percent from three-point distance.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Iowa
#32 Wilhelm Breidenbach
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Wilhelm Breidenbach is a 6-10 Jr. F from Nebraska. He played in all of the Huskers’ games last season, averaging 3.6 PPG and 2.7 RPG in 12.8 MPG. Breidenbach shot 38.5% from the field (23.4% from distance) and 61.1% from the line.

NCAA Basketball: San Diego State at Fresno State
#25 Anthony Holland
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Holland is a graduate 6-5 G from Fresno State. He averaged 6.8 PPG and 4.3 RPG in 33.8 MPG Holland shot 41.9% last season (38.7% on threes), and 73.5% at the line.

6-10 graduate F Nehemie Kabeya transferred from Carson-Newman University in Tennessee. He did not have any meaningful statistics from last season or the season before, as he has struggled with injuries. Kabeya played high school ball in Seattle, so he has come full circle this season.

After being named Pac-12 COY in his first two seasons in Seattle, coach Mike Hopkins saw his team drop to the bottom on the Pac-12 standings, and rise to 5th place in 2021-22 and 8th place in 2022-23. There was discussion last season as to whether the Huskies might be looking in a fresh direction with their basketball program, but Hopkins is still coaching. This season’s team is a relatively heavy rebuild, but two or three of the incoming transfers show some promise, Barring unforeseen circumstances, however, it’s difficult to imagine that the Huskies will be anywhere except in the middle of the pack in conference play this coming season.


The Bruins have had head coach Mick Cronin at the helm since 2019-20. Cronin has taken UCLA to the postseason in every year there was tournament play; to the Final Four in 2021, and the Sweet Sixteen in 2022 and 2023.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel
Coach Mike Cronin

The Bruins (31-6, 18-2 Pac-12; 1st) topped that Pac-12 last season and were seeded #1 in the Pac-12 tournament, losing to #2 Arizona 61-59 in a close championship game.

It’s extremely difficult to beat UCLA in Pauley Pavilion. They won all 17 of their home games last season. The Bruins finished the 2022-23 season ranked highest of the Pac-12 teams, finishing at #8.

The Bruins team statistics are everything that one would expect from a top-10 team. The year-end statistics show UCLA cumulatively exceeding their opponents in every category. As a team, UCLA shot 46% from the field, 34.9% from distance, and 73.1% at the line.

The primary starters for the Bruins this last season were 6-7 Sr. G/F Jaime Jaquez, Jr., 5-11 R-Sr. Tyger Campbell, 6-5 Jr. Jaylen Clark, 6-5 Fr. G Amari Bailey, and 6-10 Fr. F Adem Bona.

Jaime Jaquez was the star last season on a team chock full of stars. He started every game last season, averaging 33.2 MPS, 17.8 PPG, and 8.2 RPG. Jaquez shot 48.1% from the field (31.7% on threes) and 77% at the line. He was also second on the team in blocks with 22.

Tyger Campbell also started every game, averaging 32 MPG, 13.4 PPG, and 2.6 RPG. Campbell shot 37.8%, including 33.8% from distance, and a very respectable 85.6% at the stripe.

Jaylen Clark started 29 of the 30 games he played, averaging 30.5 MPG, 13 PPG, and 6 RPG. He shot 48.1%, including 32.9% on threes, and 69.8% at the line. Clark was the steals leader with 78.

Amari Bailey started 28 of 30 games, averaging 26.9 MPG, 11.2 PPG, and 3.8 RPG. He shot 49.5%, 38.9% on threes, and 69.8% at the line.

Adem Bona started 32 of 33 games, averaging 22.9 MPG, 7.7 PPG, and 5.3 RPG. He was the blocks leader with 57.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament Semifinals UCLA vs Oregon
#3 Adem Bona
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA will be reloading this season. They lose nearly all of their starters, and as such lose significant production that those players brought last season. Adem Bona will be the only returning starter; Jamie Jaquez, David Singleton, Tyger Campbell, Jaylen Clark, and Amari Bailey all move on to the pros. 5th year walk-on senior Russell Strong’s basketball career is over, but he will be continuing his education. Only two players entered the portal, with Abramo Canka going to Wake Forest and Mac Etienne transferring to DePaul.

In addition to Bona, most of the freshmen recruits from last season return as sophomores or redshirt underclassmen: 6-4 G Jack Seidler, 6-2 G Dylan Andrews, 6-8 F Evan Manjikian, and 6-3 G Will McClendon. Also returning are R-5th Kenneth Nwuba and 6-8 R-Jr. F Logan Cremonesi.

The Bruins signed seven (!) freshmen in the 2023 class:

Brandon Williams is a 4* 6-7 G/F from Queens, NY.

Ilane Fibleuil is a 6-6 G from France, having played academy ball in Paris. He was ranked No. 40 in the Class of 2023 in the national recruiting rankings.

Berke Buyuktuncel (pronounced BEAR-keh buh-YOOK-toon-jell) is a 6-9 F from Turkey.

Sebastian Mack is a 4* 6-3 G from Coronado HS in Nevada. He was ranked No. 56 in the composite player rankings.

Aday Mara is a 7-3 C from Zaragoza, Spain.

Devin Williams is 4* 6-10 F from Riverside, CA. He was ranked No. 74 in the composite national player rankings.

Jan Vide is a 6-6 G from Slovenia that played HS ball in Madrid, Spain.

UCLA opted to add only one player from the transfer portal.

6-7 G Lazar Stefanovic transferred from Utah. Last season with the Utes, he started 15 of 32 games, averaging 26.8 MPG, 10.3 PPG, and 3.1 RPG. Stefanovic was a 37.1% shooter (35.9% from distance), and shot an excellent 86.8% at the line.

UCLA loses a lot of veteran production coming into 2023, but they signed some excellent talent. Only bringing in one player from the transfer portal is a good indicator that coach Mick Cronin is comfortable with who he has in the locker room this season. We’ll see if the Bruins experience any growing pains this season, because the roster of 15 only has one R-5th year and two juniors. The rest are underclassmen. While my expectation is that there is somewhat of a dropoff from last season, at the same time I also expect UCLA to be competing again for the top of the Pac-12.