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#pounditWednesday, July 6, 2022

Key Pac-12 player says he is returning for another season

Mick Cronin in a suit

Nov 6, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Mick Cronin reacts in the first half against the Long Beach State 49ersat Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mick Cronin’s UCLA Bruins are positioning themselves for a 1997-98 Chicago Bulls-like run.

UCLA forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. revealed on Monday that he is returning to school for his senior season. Jaquez announced his decision in a hype video.

Jaquez, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2022, is perhaps UCLA’s single most important player with his inside-outside scoring ability and his top-tier defensive play. His return to Westwood for his senior season will have him sharing campus with younger sister Gabriela, who will be competing for the UCLA women’s basketball team as a freshman next year.

Peyton Watson, a freshman for UCLA last season, declared for the NBA Draft earlier this month. Other important players like Cody Riley, Jules Bernard, and Myles Johnson were all seniors last season too (though they still have an extra year of eligiblity due to the COVID-shortened 2019-20).

But the Bruins now have the official return of Jaquez, the hopeful returns of Johnny Juzang and Tyger Campbell, and the arrival of a top-five recruiting class headlined by five-stars Amari Bailey and Adem Bona. That will have UCLA hoping for a better run than this season where they bowed out in the Sweet Sixteen and got unlucky in other ways too.

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