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Cronin, Smith Represent UCLA at Pac-12 Media Day

Nov 13, 2020
Chris Smith (photo by Jesus Ramirez)

2020-21 Roster | Cronin, Smith Full Video | Pac-12 Preseason Poll, Teams

LOS ANGELES – Senior Chris Smith and head coach Mick Cronin served as UCLA's representatives during the Pac-12 men's basketball day-long virtual "media day" webinar on Thursday, Nov. 12.
Smith and Coach Cronin, who has entered his second season as The Michael Price Family UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach, spoke to college basketball analyst Andy Katz during a Zoom session before taking questions from select media members. Each of Pac-12 programs had a 30-minute window during the day in which the team's head coach and a student-athlete representative addressed the media in a virtual format.
Cronin specifically addressed the morning's news that UCLA had been picked as the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12, in the league's preseason media poll. The Pac-12 had also announced that Smith and sophomore Tyger Campbell were named preseason all-league selections – Smith on the first team and Campbell on the second team.
"I'm a fan of all our players and I tell them all the same thing, that [preseason accolades] it doesn't matter," said Cronin, in reference to the Pac-12's preseason all-league teams. "I'll tell guys that you can't bring your high school rankings with you to college. It just doesn't matter. What matters is what you do between the lines. You've got to be able to get the job done on the floor. My thought process with young people, especially today, is you have to train them to worry about things that matter. Social media does not matter. Where whoever is ranked, or if you're an honorable mention, it just doesn't matter. I guarantee you that every one of them would trade it for a national championship or to be a first-round pick."

UCLA went 19-12 last season and posted a 12-6 mark in Pac-12 play, finishing second in the conference standings. The preseason Pac-12 poll, released on Thursday, slotted UCLA first, Arizona State second, Oregon third and Stanford fourth.
"All the guys that played major minutes are back," Smith said. "Not only are we here for another season, but we're here to help our newcomers, guys like Johnny Juzang and Jaylen [Clark] coming in – just getting those guys rolling so that the momentum will keep going. We pretty much have the same guys from last season. There won't be the preseason hiccups like we had last season, just getting to know Coach Cronin. Everybody knows what we have got to do, and everybody knows what has to happen."
Smith, a 6-foot-9 guard from Chicago, chose to return to UCLA over the summer after exploring his options with the 2020 NBA Draft. As a junior last season, he was named the Pac-12's Most Improved Player of the Year and a first-team all-league selection. He averaged a team-best 13.1 points per game as a junior, finished second on the team in rebounding (5.4 rpg) and was fifth in the Pac-12 in free throw percentage (84.0%).
Smith was one of 10 student-athletes named as a preseason first-team All-Pac-12 pick on Thursday morning, while Campbell was among five players listed as second-team selections. In addition, junior forward/center Jalen Hill and sophomore guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. were named as honorable mentions.

Campbell, a 5-foot-11 guard from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, averaged 8.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game as a freshman in 2019-20. He led all Pac-12 players in assist-turnover ratio (2.79) and was third in the league in assists per game (5.0).
UCLA's 27-game season is slated to begin at San Diego State on Wednesday, Nov. 25. The Bruins' complete schedule has not been finalized. Game times and TV designations will be announced at a later date.