The UCLA Bruins men’s basketball program plays for the University of California, Los Angeles. They presently play as part of the Pac-12 Conference. The program was initially established in 1919 and has amassed a number of NCAA titles across their existence. Recently, it’s been announced that UCLA would move to the Big Ten Conference starting in 2024.
Early UCLA basketball (1919–1948)
The program was first established in 1919 with Fred Cozens serving as the head coach for the UCLA basketball and football teams. Cozens coached for the team for two seasons and ended with a strong overall 21-4 record. Following Cozens, Caddy Works took on the role from 1921 – 1939 guiding the team to a 173-150 record. According to sources, Works was a lawyer by profession and coached the team during the evenings. Which is why one player, Frank Lubin, said that Works was more of an honorary coach, claiming that he didn’t have a lot of basketball knowledge.
The John Wooden era (1948–1975)
UCLA fans and historians will know the name of John Wooden. This coach, known by some as the “Wizard of Westwood” served as the team’s head coach from 1948-1975. Over his tenure, the team won ten NCAA national championships and shattered the team’s previous record of consecutive title runs. And in fact, no other team has won more than two straight titles since Wooden’s incredible run.
Wooden’s arrival came after UCLA had only two previous conference championships in 18 years. And in his first year, Wooden’s guidance led the team to a 22-7 record, which was unimaginable given the previous year’s 12-13 record. In fact, that season was the most wins the program won in any season in its history. On top of that, the team earned its first PAC Southern Division Championship.
Wooden’s second season was no less incredible, as he led the Bruins to a 24-07 record and the PCC championship. The Bruins went on to win the division title in their next two seasons and the conference title in the latter season.
Then came the 1955-56 season, where Wooden guided the Bruins to their first undefeated PCC conference title and a stunning 17-game winning streak that only ended in the 1956 NCAA Tournament against the University of San Francisco team that featured Bill Russell.
Recent UCLA Achievements
As mentioned, the program had 10 national titles beneath Coach John Wooden from 1964 – 1975, including a straight seven winning seasons from 1967-1973. The team also went undefeated four times during this period (1964, 1967, 1972, and 1973).
The program’s next strong seasons came beneath Coach Jim Harrick who led the team to another NCAA title in 1995. Former coach Ben Howland led the team to three consecutive FInal Four appearances from 2006-2008. Also, the team has set an NCAA Division I record of 13 consecutive regular season conference titles from 1967-1979, which stood until Kansas beat the record in 2018.
About Pauley Pavilion Stadium
The UCLA Bruins basketball team play out of the Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion, which is located in the Westwood Village district of Los Angeles, California on the UCLA campus. It’s also home to the UCLA Bruins women’s basketball team and the university’s men’s and women’s volleyball and women’s gymnastics teams also compete there.
The building was named for University of California regent Edwin W. Pauley who had matched the alumni contributions. In fact, Pauley donated almost a fifth of the more than $5 million spent in construction.
The current building contains 11,307 permanent theater-style upholstered seats, with an additional retractable seats for 2,492 spectators, and 1,466 seats without backs for the band and students. This makes the total basketball capacity a whopping 13,800.
As you can imagine, this incredible sports venue has been used for plenty of other events, including concerts, commencements, and political events. This includes star-studded and popular concerts from some of music’s best performers including Bob Marley, Bad Religion, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti, Eric Clapton, The Grateful Dead, Phish, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, and Faith No More. The venue even hosted Frank Zappa for a 1970 appearance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra performing Zappa’s orchestral music.
The building was even used for the 1984 Summer Olympics Men’s and Women’s gymnastics and Women’s rhythmic gymnastics events. Four years later in 1988, it was the site of a presidential election debate between George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. And later, Dukakis also held his final election-eve rally at the venue, hosted by the UCLA Bruin Democrats.
And it was announced that the venue will host Wrestling and Judo during the 2028 Summer Olympics.
The UCLA Bruins have a history of excellent basketball action and star players. The program has accrued an incredible amount of achievements over its career including awards, players who have changed the sport, and more. Below are just some of these achievements and accolades.
NCAA Program Titles
The UCLA Bruins Basketball team are no stranger to titles and awards. Below is a brief overview of their program wide achievements.
- 11 NCAA titles
- 7 consecutive NCAA titles (1967–1973)
- 13 NCAA title game appearances*
- 10 consecutive Final Four appearances (1967–1976)
- 25 Final Four wins*
- 38 game NCAA Tournament winning streak (1964–1974)
- 134 weeks ranked No. 1 in AP Top 25 Poll
- 54 consecutive winning seasons (1949–2002)
- 88 game men’s regular season winning streak (1971–1974)
- 4 undefeated seasons (1964, 1967,
* 1980 tournament final vacated by NCAA
The Program has also produced several famous and notable players. Including six former UCLA Bruins who have gone on to be named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. These players are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Reggie Miller, Gail Goodrich, Jamaal Wilkes, Bill Walton and Don Barksdale. Barksdale is further notable for being the first player to break color barriers; being the first African American to be named an NCAA All-American and NBA All-Star and the first to be selected for the US Olympic basketball team.
In addition, all 14 players to have played on three NCAA Division I Champion basketball teams were from UCLA. And these players are Abdul-Jabbar, Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, Lynn Shackelford, Larry Farmer, Henry Bibby, Steve Patterson, Kenny Heitz, Jon Chapman, John Ecker, Andy Hill, Terry Schofield, Bill Sweek, and Larry Hollyfield.
Finally, UCLA is known as having produced the most NBA MVP Award winner. And, as of the 2021–22 NBA season, 99 former UCLA players have played in the NBA.