Last season, UCLA finished 27-10, 11-7 Pac-12 (T-4th). Head coach Cori Close has coached the Bruins since 2011-12 and has led them to postseason play for the past eight seasons (no tourneys in 2020, of course).
In the 2023 Pac-12 Tournament, UCLA was seeded 5th and defeated ASU, AZ, and Stanford before losing to Wazzu in the championship game.
In the NCAA tournament, UCLA entered as a 4-seed, winning against #13 Sacramento State and #5 Oklahoma before losing to #1 South Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen.
As a team, UCLA shot 39.4%, 30.1% on threes, and 77.9% from the line. While the 39% shooting number appears low, it should be noted that opponents shot 38% for an average of 61.7 PPG, which is indicative of the emphasis that UCLA places on defense.
In 22-23, 5-9 G Charisma Osborne was the leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 15.9 PPG and 5.9 RPG. She shot 38.7% from the field, including 29.2% from downtown, and 83.2% from the line. Osborne was adept at drawing fouls, and averaged 3.3 PPG from the line.
Also in double digit figures was 5-11 G and freshman standout Kiki Rice. Rice averaged 11.6 PPG and 4.5 RPG, shooting 41.1% from the field (21.7% on threes, and she did not shoot as many as the other guards or forwards), and 79.1% at the line.
Both were primary starters, as were 6-4 R-Fr. F Emily Bessoir, 5th year Sr. Gina Conti, and 5-11 Sr. G Camryn Brown. All of these starters except for Conti come back for the 23-24 season.
Only two Bruins entered the transfer portal after last season, showing a remarkable stability in the program that is unusual in college basketball these days. 5-9 Jr. G Dominique Onu only played in six games last season and transferred to USC. 6-3 Sr. F Brynn Masikewich transferred to DePaul.
With all of this team cohesion, UCLA only brings in one freshman for 23-24, 6-4 F Amanda Muse. Muse is from UCLA’s back yard, coming from Heritage HS in Brentwood. She is a 2023 McDonald’s All American that played varsity water polo as we as basketball in all four of her high school years.
Also, UCLA only needed to bring in one from the portal, with sophomore Lauren Betts coming in from Stanford.
Betts is a 6-7 C that appeared in 33 games last season, all off the bench. She only averaged 9.7 minutes per game, which may have been a factor in the move. Betts averaged 5.9 PPG and 3.5 RPG, shooting 60.2% from the field and 56.7% from the line. Betts appears to be a solid piece for the Bruins, adding center height that they previously did not have.
The 2023-24 UCLA Bruins not only return four of five starters, but most of their bench as well. Losing only two players from last season, and bringing in just one recruit and one transfer is astonishing in this day and age. UCLA had a solid playoff team last year, and for the most part returns that team for the upcoming season. It’s difficult not to imagine the Bruins making deep postseason runs again in 2024.