With only about six weeks left until UCLA’s first exhibition game on October 31 against Cal-State Dominguez Hills, Mick Cronin’s team is now at full strength. The highly anticipated 2023 recruiting class, which boasts some of the brightest talents in the sport, has finally gathered on campus after several months of anticipation.
Berke Buyuktuncel and Aday Mara, both key members of this star-studded class, had been residing in their respective countries overseas until recently. During their absence, the Bruins were hard at work, engaging in summer workouts to build team chemistry and master Coach Cronin’s strategies. However, the puzzle was incomplete until this past Tuesday when UCLA was able to assemble its full roster for practice.
UCLA’s social media team wasted no time in sharing glimpses of the team in action during practice. The images featured Mara, donning the yellow jersey with the number 15, and Buyuktuncel in his blue jersey, showcasing his skills while posting up teammate Jan Vide with a basketball in hand.
A day later, more images emerged, capturing the intense battle between Mara and Buyuktuncel beneath the basket. Mara, determined to gain position with the ball, found himself sandwiched by Buyuktuncel and an unnamed UCLA teammate, both raising their hands to defend.
One striking image stood out, showing Coach Cronin in the foreground and Mara towering in the background. The 7-foot-3 center’s immense height was evident, emphasizing the potential he brings to the team.
The journey has been a unique experience for both of these promising big men. Setting foot on UCLA’s campus just a few weeks ago, this marked their first visit to the United States. However, they quickly found themselves enrolled at the nation’s top-ranked public university and playing for the reigning Pac-12 Champions.
Aday Mara’s integration into Los Angeles life extended beyond basketball. He joined his teammates to watch the Women’s Volleyball Team face off against USC at Pauley Pavilion this past Wednesday. Although it’s still early, it seems that both Buyuktuncel and Mara are adapting well to their new surroundings in the vibrant city of Los Angeles.
The arrival of these two international talents has generated considerable excitement among UCLA fans, and their presence on the court promises to add a new dimension to the team’s gameplay in the upcoming season.