The University of California, Los Angeles, is undoubtedly one of the best basketball colleges in the US. The UCLA Bruins men’s basketball program has championship expectations each season and with good reason. Its pedigree is world-renowned.
Understandably, this team has such a rich history because of the remarkable players that passed through the program. So, who are the best UCLA basketball players? Who are the players responsible for this great history? Some of you may want to know some of UCLA’s greats that are still in the NBA. This article will shed some light on the greatest UCLA basketball players of all time and their coaches. We will be thoroughly reviewing the team, its history, and its leaders.
A Brief History of UCLA Basketball
The University of California, Los Angeles basketball team is the UCLA Bruins. The team competes in the Pac-12 Conference. The team was established in 1919 and as since won a record of 11 NCAA titles. The team won titles in 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1995.
Throughout these remarkable Championship runs, the team went undefeated for four of these seasons. The UCLA Bruins have several NCAA records, including the 11 NCAA national titles. In addition to the 11 titles, the team’s most notable records are seven consecutive titles from 1967 to 1973, 13 title game appearances in the NCAA tournament, 10 consecutive final four appearances from 1967 to 1976, a winning streak of 38 games in the NCAA tournament and four undefeated seasons.
The most successful coach in Bruins history is John Wooden AKA “Wizard of Westwood”. John Wooden coached the team from 1948 to 1975. During his coaching career at UCLA, John Wooden led the team to 10 national championships in a 12-year span. He was able to win an incredible seven consecutive championships throughout that period. Up to this day, no other team has managed to break that record.
He is also the coach that is responsible for the team’s 88 consecutive wins record. Before John Wooden started coaching at UCLA, the team had only managed to win two championships for their conference over a period f 18 years. John Wooden led the team to its first national championship in 1964 with a team led by Walt Hazzard and Gail Goodrich. In a 1967, then Lew Alcindor now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joined the team. That year, the team won another national championship to culminate a brilliant undefeated season.
The first nationally televised regular-season college basketball game was in January 1968, UCLA vs Huston. This game featured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Elvin Hayes. It was described as the game of the century.
Unfortunately for UCLA, Houston was able to pull off the upset and win the game by two points. After they lost that game they went undefeated for the rest of the year and managed to exact revenge on Houston in the semi-final of the NCAA tournament. They won another National Championship that year.
The great John Wooden announced his retirement in 1975 at the age of 64. He concluded his career with the UCLA Bruins winning their 10th National Championship.During his time with the UCLA Bruins, the wizard of Westwood was able to lead the team to 620 victories in his 27 seasons. His UCLA teams had a record winning streak of 88 games and four perfect seasons.
John Wooden was named NCAA college basketball coach of the year for 7 years. He won the award in 1964, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973. He was named Sportsman of the Year in 1972, a title he shared with Billie Jean King. He was the first person to be named to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and a coach. This happened in 1973.
After John Wooden retired, Walt Hazzard was named the coach of the UCLA basketball team in 1984. The team managed to win both the pac-10 regular-season championship and the pac-10 conference tournament in 1986 to 87 season.
Walt Hazzard tenure at UCLA did not last very long. In 1988 Jim Harrick was hired as the head coach. Jim Harrick recruited Don McLean in 1988. Don McLean was crucial to the revival of the program that had dropped off form in recent years. In the 1994 to 1995 season, the UCLA Bruins had a 32 and 1 record. They fought their way to the school’s 11th national championship. This was their first championship since the departure of the great John Wooden.
Steve Levin was hired as the team’s interim coach in 1995 after their NCAA Championship season. On February 11th Steve Levin was officially hired as the team’s coach after the team tied for first place in the Pac-10. While Steve was the team’s coach, the team qualified for six consecutive NCAA tournaments from 1997 to 2002. Unfortunately for Steve, he was fired in March 2003 after the team had their first losing season.
After Steve Levin was fired, the team hired Ben Howland, who was coaching at the University of Pittsburgh in 2003. In the 2005 to 2006 season, the UCLA Bruins won their second Pac-10 tournament championship. They also managed to upset Memphis to reach the school’s first final four appearances in 11 years.
They got all the way to the championship game where they lost to Florida. The Following season of the UCLA Bruins were undefeated at home for the first time in 22 years and won another Pac-10 conference title. They got to another final four but unfortunately lost once again to Florida in the semi-finals.
Kevin Love joined the team for the 2007 to 2008 season as a highly prospected player coming out of high school. The following seasons saw poor performances from the UCLA Bruins, and subsequently, on March 25th, 2013 coach Howland was fired.
On March 30th, 2013, Steve Alford became the head coach of UCLA. They had not reached the Pac-12 tournament championship in 8 years, but managed to do so during Alford’s first year.
A lot of media hype surrounded the team in 2016 because of the freshman point guard Lonzo Ball and his father’s behavior.
Coach Alford was fired in the 2018 to 2019 season and the Mick Cronin was hired as the program’s 14th head coach.
What Famous Basketball Players Went to UCLA?
There are currently many famous UCLA players in the NBA and a lot more that played before. There are quite a number of all the seamers as well. We will now take a look at some of the famous players that are playing or have played in the NBA.
Jrue Holiday played one year at UCLA before moving on to the NBA. While he was at Kansas in 2008-2009, he was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team before declaring for the 2009 NBA draft. He went on to the NBA, where he was drafted 17th in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers.
During his 11 years in the NBA, he has won NBA All-Star appearance in 2013, and he is averaging 15PTS, 4RB, and 6AST for his career.
Russell Westbrook spent two years at UCLA and then went on to the NBA. While he was at UCLA in 2006-2008, he was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Russell went on to the NBA, where he was drafted 4th in the first round by the Seattle SuperSonics (OKC). During his 12 years in the NBA, he is a 9-time All-Star, 1- time MVP (2017), 2- time scoring and assist leader, and managed to average a triple-double for 3 consecutive seasons.
Lonzo Ball played one year at UCLA before moving on to the NBA. While he was at UCLA in 2016-17, he was the NCAA season assist leader. He went on to the NBA, where he was drafted 2nd in the first round by Lakers after refusing to work out with any other team. He has since been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Zach LaVine spent one year at UCLA and then went on to the NBA. While he was at UCLA in 2013-2014, he was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. Zach LaVine went on to the NBA, where he was drafted 13th in the first round by the Timberwolves. He won the NBA Slam Dunk competition 2ce.
Trevor Ariza played one year at UCLA before moving on to the NBA. While he was at UCLA in 2003-2004, he was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team. He went on to the NBA, where he was drafted 43rd in the second round by the New York Knicks. During his long NBA career, he is averaging 10PTS, 4RB, and 2AST. He won an NBA championship alongside Kobe Bryant in 2009.
Baron Davis spent two years at UCLA and then went on to the NBA. While he was at UCLA in 1997-1999, he was named to the All-Pac-10 First Team. He went on to the NBA, where the Hornets drafted him 3rd in the first round. During his 17 years in the NBA, he was a 2-time NBA All-Star that averaged 16PTS, 1RB, and 7AST.
Kevin Love played one year at UCLA before moving on to the NBA. While he was at UCLA in 2007-2008, he was consensus first-team All-American and Pac-10 Player of the year. He went on to the NBA, where he was drafted 5th overall by the Grizzlies but traded to the Timberwolves on draft night. During his 12 years of playing professionally, he is a 5-time all-star and NBA.
Reggie Miller spent four years at UCLA and then went on to the NBA. While he was at UCLA in 1983-1987, he helped the team to win the NIT championship in 1985.
He went on to the NBA, where he was drafted 11th in the first round by the Indiana Pacers. During his 18 years in the NBA, he was a 5- time NBA All-Star. For his career, he averaged 18PTS, 3RB, and 3AST.
Bill Walton played four years at UCLA before moving on to the NBA. While he was at UCLA in 1970-74, he helped the team to win two NCAA Championship in 1972 and 1973. He was also the NCAA Most Outstanding Player for those two years.
He went on to the NBA, where he was drafted 1st overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. During his 14 years in the NBA, he was a 2-time all-star and 2-time NBA Champion that averaged 13PTS, 10RB, and 3AST.
Sidney Wicks spent three years at UCLA and then went on to the NBA.He went on to the NBA, where he was drafted 2nd in the first round by the Portland Trail Blazers. During his 11 years in the NBA, he was a 4- time NBA All-Star. For his career, he averaged 16PTS, 7RB, and 3AST.
Gail Goodrich played four years at UCLA before moving on to the NBA. While he was at UCLA in 1962-1965, he was consensus first-team All-American and Helms Foundation Player of the Year. He went on to the NBA, where he was the territorial pick of the Los Angeles Lakers. He is a 5-time all-star and NBA Champion.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spent two seasons at UCLA and then went on to play for the Milwaukee Bucks after they drafted him 1st after all. While he was at UCLA in 1966-1969, he helped the team to 3 NCAA championships.His entrance into the NBA was made as a 1st overall pick by the Bucks. During his 20 years in the NBA, he averaged 24PTS, 11RB, and 3AST. He was a 6-time NBA Champion.
How Many UCLA Bruins’ Players are in the NBA? List of UCLA Basketball Players in NBA
Currently, there are twelve former UCLA Bruins’ in the NBA at this time. Let’s take a quick look at who they are.
After he was drafted 43 overall by the Knicks in 2004, Ariza has played for Ten NBA teams. He played two seasons with the Knicks and was then traded to the Magic in 2006. He was recently traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. Trevor Ariza won an NBA title in 2009.
After he was drafted 4th overall by the Supersonics in 2008, Westbrook has been one of the most dominant players in the game today. He is a 9-time all-star and is a two-time scoring champion. His career numbers are also quite good at 23PPG, 7RPG, and 8AST.
After he was drafted 5th overall by the Grizzlies in 2008, Love has played for two NBA teams. He won an NBA championship with the Cavs in 2016.
Jure Holiday is currently with the New Orleans Pelicans. He was drafted by the 76ers, but traded to the Pelicans in 2014. He is a fairly good shooter and is one of the leaders of a young core in New Orleans.
Zach LaVine has been balling since day one. He has shown remarkable talent while playing for the Timberwolves from 2014-17. He is a fairly good shooter and is insanely athletic. He was traded to the Bulls for Jimmy Buttler in 2017.
Kyle Anderson plays with the Memphis Grizzlies. He was drafted 30th in the first round by the Spurs. He signed a four year deal with the Grizzlies worth $37,000,000 in 2018.
Norman Powell has been a reasonably good rotation player since he was drafted. He has been in Toronto for five seasons, and it seems that he has found his place in the roster’s rotation.
After he was drafted 30th overall by the Suns in 2015, Looney has played for the warriors and won two championships with them.
Leaf was drafted in the second round by the Pacers. He will need to up his game defensively if he wants to get into constant roster rotation with the Pacers.
In 2017, Ball was drafted 2nd by the LakersHe is currently signed to the New Orleans Pelicans. He was traded to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis. His career numbers are OK at 10PPG, 6RPG, and 6AST.
Aaron Holiday has been a fairly good rotation player since he was drafted. He has been in Indiana for two seasons playing solid backup minutes.
The 5 Greatest UCLA Bruins NBA Players of All Time
For this next list, we have selected five players we believe are the best based on the numbers they have put up during their time in the NBA. There were so many great players to choose from; however, we think these guys stood out.
Sidney is one of the best bigs that the Bruins ever produced. He went on to have an amazing NBA career.
The triple-double king AKA Westbeast or Energy God is an absolute monster. This guy is doing things no one ever thought possible. Let’s see if his Rockets can win a championship this season.
When he is good, he is really good. We are sure you can agree. He is definitely one of the top 10 big men in the NBA today.
Reggie Miller and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Reggie Miller and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That’s it. Their names speak for themselves.
Wrapping Things Up: UCLA NBA Players
UCLA has the best basketball history in the US. This program has produced greats after greats. They have had legendary coaches that have been able to guide their teams over the decades. The players that took the next step to the NBA very talented and often generational players.
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