Having lost Kevon Looney to the NBA Draft, UCLA entered the offseason in a position where it could use another front court body to improve its depth. Sunday afternoon the program landed a commitment from a player with the size needed to help the Bruins in this regard, as 6-foot-11 center Ikenna Okwarabzie announced that he will attend UCLA next year.
Okwarabzie, who played at Tyler JC in Texas this past season, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining and he joins a front court that will be led by Tony Parker and Jonah Bolden next season. Okwarabzie averaged 6.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game at Tyler, and UCLA will need his help on the glass and defensively with their leading rebounder (Looney- 9.2 rpg) moving on.
Both Gyorgy Goloman and Thomas Welsh played more minutes than many expected in the early going due to Bolden not being cleared by the NCAA, but that benefitted the players and UCLA as the season wore on. Goloman and Welsh made strides, which allowed them to factor into a front court rotation that ultimately helped the Bruins reach the Sweet 16.
Parker is UCLA’s most productive returnee, as he averaged 11.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season and will be the team’s leading returning rebounder. And having Bolden on board gives UCLA a skilled forward who was expected to have a major impact before the NCAA threw a wrench into those plans.
Okwarabzie is the fourth newcomer joining the UCLA program this summer, with guards Aaron Holiday and Prince Ali and 6-foot-10 forward Alex Olesinski being the others.