Thursday, October 11, 2012

UCLA's Youth Could Contend in Pac-12

The long wait will soon be over when the first official NCAA basketball game of the 2012-13 season will tip-off on Nov. 15. Some of our favorite players have moved on the ranks of professional athletes, new recruits have been polishing their games in gyms with recognizable logos on the court, and schools have switched conference allegiances. Through a series of conference previews, the BDD crew will do its best to prepare you for the next 4.5 months of collegiate hoops.

Ben Howland gives two (stern) thumbs up to his recruiting class. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Favorite: California Golden Bears

The Pac-12 offered a dogfight for the top position, as only four games separated first and seventh place in the conference. However, this coming season belongs to the California Golden Bears. The Bears are returning their top scorer in Allen Crabtree, who averaged 15 points per game last season. Crabtree also grabbed nearly six rebounds a game. The Bears will also have good size on the interior with David Kravish (6'9") and Richard Solomon (6'10").

Dark Horse: UCLA Bruins

The Bruins had the second-best recruiting class in the country according to With young talent like Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker, the Bruins will have the talent to be a challenger in the Pac-12. It’s up to head coach Ben Howland to bring it all together.

POY: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA

Muhammad averaged 29 points and five rebounds per game during his time at Bishop Gorman (NV) High School. A guard with great size (6'6"), Muhammad’s talent should take over in a conference with little to show at elite levels in recent years. If Howland can harness Muhammad’s ability, the freshman will run away with this award.

Coach of the Year: Ben Howland, UCLA

With an incredibly talented recruiting class, Howland has all the tools to bring UCLA back to the prominence it’s been used to in past years. Howland is a good coach, who has brought out the best in players like Kevin Love, Aaron Afflalo, and Darren Collison. With a team infused with new talent, Howland should be the frontrunner for this award.

Newcomer of the Year: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA

If Muhammed takes the POY award, he will easily take this one as well.

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