In a recent evaluation of the upcoming women’s college basketball season, ESPN’s Charlie Creme has given a ringing endorsement to the UCLA Bruins women’s basketball team, ranking them higher than before and highlighting key players and developments for the 2023-24 season.
- Angel Reese, Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and LSU Tigers teammates receive high praise.
- UCLA Bruins move up in the preseason rankings.
- Betts’ transfer and Osborne’s return are expected to boost the team significantly.
Creme’s rankings place Angel Reese and her reigning NCAA champion LSU Tigers at the top of the list. He also recognizes the potential of new additions Aneesah Morrow and Hailey Van Lith, who could join Reese as All-Americans. These accolades position the LSU Tigers as the cream of the crop in women’s college basketball.
Following closely behind, the University of Connecticut Huskies claim the second spot in Creme’s rankings. The Huskies boast their own impressive trio of Paige Bueckers, Azzi Fudd, and Aaliyah Edwards.
Surging one place higher from their previous ranking, the UCLA Bruins have secured a noteworthy position in Creme’s list. This upward movement reflects the high expectations for the team in the upcoming season.
“The Bruins last won the Pac-12 tournament in 2006,” Creme writes. “They last won the regular season-championship in 1999. UCLA has never been to the NCAA Final Four. All of that could change this season. The offseason good news began with Charisma Osborne’s decision to bypass the WNBA draft and return to school for her bonus year. Then the No. 1 recruit from 2022, 6-foot-7 Lauren Betts, left conference rival Stanford for Westwood. Kiki Rice was rated right behind Betts and lived up to that ranking as UCLA’s second leading scorer (11.6 PPG) last season behind Osborne (15.6 PPG). Emily Bessoir made great strides as a 6-4 sophomore and was the Bruins’ most accurate 3-point shooter (35.7%). If Londynn Jones and Gabriela Jaquez make similar jumps in their second seasons, UCLA will have more scoring options than ever under coach Cori Close.”
One of the key factors contributing to Creme’s optimism about UCLA’s prospects is the addition of Betts through the transfer portal. Despite modest numbers during her freshman year with the Cardinal, Betts is expected to make significant strides in her performance under Coach Close’s guidance. Additionally, Osborne’s decision to postpone her professional opportunities in favor of another year with the team underscores the strong locker room chemistry already in place within the Bruins’ squad.
As the anticipation builds for the 2023-24 season, fans of UCLA women’s basketball have every reason to be excited about the team’s potential, with ESPN’s preseason rankings offering a glimpse into a promising journey ahead.
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