Five significant Bruins return for Ben Howland this season, a quintet that will be called upon to quickly meld with four freshmen and a newly eligible transfer. Below we’ll break down those returnees in order of their per-game scoring averages last season.
Travis Wear, Junior, Forward (11.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG) – In his first season in Westwood, Travis, the younger of the two Wear twins by a minute, was the most efficient offensive player on the team. Combining excellent shooting percentages (53.3% from the field and a 57.9% true shooting rate) with terrific rebounding numbers (his 13.2% offensive rebound rate was in the top 70 in the nation last year), Travis proved himself to be an adept competitor in and around the lane. More capable of slashing to the basket and finishing off-balance opportunities than his brother, he also shone on the defensive end, finishing second to Anthony Stover with more than a block per game. After being away from on-court action for more than a year due to his transfer from North Carolina, Travis became more comfortable as the season went on, recording three double-doubles in his final eight games of the year. While his role will likely be similar in the 2012-13 season, expect him to step away from the hoop a bit more and rely on his good mid-range jumper, clearing up the lane not only for big man Joshua Smith, but also for freshman slashers Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson. One disturbing number from 2011-12 does need to change, however. In 786 minutes of court time, he tallied a grand total of 13 assists.
David Wear, Junior, Forward (10.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG) – UCLA opened last season with six different players who were primarily power forwards or centers fighting for minutes. With no other pure small forward on the squad, it was a foregone conclusion that one of those six bigs would have to spend some time out of position at the three. David was that guy, spending at least some time at the three despite his 6’10” frame and comfort around the basket. David still wound up as the team’s leading rebounder, snatching 6.3 rebounds per game, with more than 65% of those boards came on the defensive end. Offensively, he showed an ability to hit the three-point shot, shooting 46.7% from deep, albeit in less than one three-point attempt per game. In 2012-13, with the UCLA roster more balanced and with more talent at the three (Shabazz Muhammad is a lead-pipe cinch to get the majority of the minutes there, with Kyle Anderson and even Tyler Lamb and Jordan Adams potentially getting some time there), David will likely shift back solely to the four, although much like his brother, will be a bit more of a stretch four offensively.