Your UCLA Bruins have set the stage with an exciting series of strategic recruiting decisions this summer, introducing an array of promising international talents to their ranks. The anticipation builds around the towering 7’3″ Spanish newcomer, Aday Mara, who has already captured the spotlight as a projected top-10 pick in the upcoming 2024 NBA draft, according to Kevin O’Connor’s insights on The Ringer. Adding to the intrigue, Berke Buyuktuncel from Turkey stands poised for selection within the top-30 if he chooses to declare.
Jan Vide, a dynamic 6’6″ swingman hailing from Slovenia, steps into the Bruins’ narrative as another noteworthy addition. His impressive performance during the FIBA U19 competition, where he ranked third in scoring with an average of 17.9 points per game, has not gone unnoticed. While not yet a prominent figure in the top-30 projections for the 2024 NBA draft, Vide’s undeniable potential promises a radiant future within the Bruins’ fold.
“I left Slovenia when I was 14, but this was a long process,” Vide said. “When I was 13, I already knew that this would be an option. And so my family and I, we had prepared mentally for that jump when I was like 13. Then when I was 14, it was just a big jump.”
A poignant reflection from a recent UCLA press release sheds light on Vide’s transformative journey. Originating from Slovenia, he ventured to Madrid at the tender age of 14 to pursue his passion, joining the SEK-El Castillo International team. Now, he finds himself back in Madrid, donning the blue and gold Bruins jersey, a testament to his dedication and growth.
The Bruins’ preseason preparations have been in full swing, with a recent visit to Madrid marking the commencement of a series of exhibition matches across the nation. Amidst the fervor of these matchups, Vide took a moment to not only unpack his prowess on the court but also provide intricate descriptions of the local culinary scene, painting a vivid picture of his experiences.
“Dining in Madrid, and really in all of Spain, you’ve got everything – seafood, meat,” Vide says. “The most typical food you’ll find in Madrid is probably jamon, jamon Iberico. This is one of the best things that Spain created. You’ve got some food called tapas. It’s not really a food, but it’s smaller portions. When you go out to a dinner, you’ll take tapas, many different foods in smaller portions and you can mix things, like some seafood with the meat. One of my favorites is the gambas al ahilo, shrimp with garlic. And when we go over to Valencia, we should try the paella valenciana, which is one of their most typical foods.”
The UCLA Bruins’ international recruitment coup has set the basketball world abuzz, with Mara and Vide emerging as symbols of the team’s forward-looking approach. As the anticipation builds and the season unfolds, all eyes are on these rising stars, poised to make an indelible mark on the collegiate basketball landscape.