UCLA basketball: Backcourt breakdown

UCLA's frontcourt is getting most of the attention this preseason, and rightfully so with what is considered one of the a nation's top front lines heading into the season.

It's because of the big guys that UCLA is a top-20 team in the preseason rankings and polls, but questions marks in the backcourt are the reason why UCLA is not among the top 10.

Earlier we broke down the frontcourt, here is our Bruins backcourt breakdown as UCLA heads into its first public appearance in an exhibition game against Cal State San Bernardino Sunday at 2 p.m. at Citizen's Business Bank Arena in Ontario.


Projected starter: Lazeric Jones, Sr., 6-0

Key reserves: Jerime Anderson, Sr., 6-2; Tyler Lamb, So. 6-5

The skinny: Jones had a solid, but not spectacular first year at the major college level last season. He was plagued by injuries all season and showed his toughness by playing through them, but they clearly affected his play as he went through some bad shooting stretches. When healthy, he proved to be a valuable cog and a clutch free-throw shooter. He's got a good outside shot and is an excellent penetrator and he'll be expected to play a lot of minutes this season so he'll have to avoid the injury bug.

Anderson developed into a key player off the bench last season and also blossomed into a leader. He showed good shooting skill and knows how to get the ball inside when he's running the offense. He will miss the exhibition game and season opener because of an off-court incident, but should continue to make key contributions off the bench when he returns.

Lamb will occasionally run the point, but he's much more of a natural shooting guard. Still, he understands the offense and is among the best on the team at feeding the post players. He's also one of the top defenders on the team and has the quickness to stay in front of opposing point guards.


Projected starter: Tyler Lamb, So., 6-5

Key reserves: Norman Powell, Fr., 6-3; Jerime Anderson; De'End Parker, Jr., 6-6

The skinny: Lamb will get the first crack at filling the void left by Malcolm Lee's departure to the NBA. He's shown good athleticism and court smarts at times and is a top-notch defender, but his outside shooting needs work. He made only eight of 39 (20.5 percent) of his three-point attempts last season and shot 32.7 percent from the field. He had some solid stretches that showed his potential and if he continues to develop, he could be a surprise this season.

Powell is an athletic, two-time all-state high school selection out of Lincoln High in San Diego, where he led the team to back-to-back state titles. There is no doubt about his ability to get to the basket and finish and he also has good shooting touch. The question on Powell heading into the season is his ability to defend college-level players.

Anderson will also get some minutes at the off guard, especially when coach Ben Howland goes to a three-guard lineup as he did several times last season. His shooting range is more than adequate to handle the job and when he get's hot, he can carry the team for stretches.

Parker, a transfer from San Francisco City College, will get most of his time at small forward, but is also an ideal candidate for the third guard spot because of his versatility. He's a good passer with the athleticism to get to the basket from the outside and could create matchup problems with his size when playing guard.