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By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

UCLA men's basketball signs Spanish center Aday Mara


August 24, 2023

In a much-anticipated announcement, the UCLA Bruins men's basketball team has announced that they have signed Aday Mara, a 7-foot-3 center from Zaragoza, Spain. Mara is considered one of the top basketball recruits in the world, a likely NBA first round draft pick, and a possible NBA lottery pick. Mara just recently participated in the FIBA U18 European Championships in July.

Mara averaged 14.0 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.7 blocks in seven games for Spain at the championships, averaging 27.7 minutes per game. He shot 62.3% from the field and 75.9% from the free throw line. Mara, who celebrated his 18th birthday on April 7th, is just scratching the surface of his huge potential. UCLA Bruins head basketball coach Mick Cronin agrees.

"We are excited to announce the addition of Aday to UCLA," Cronin said. "Throughout this process with Aday, he and his family have stood firm on one thing, that they want a great education for Aday, and to see him grow as a young man at UCLA. He has tremendous size and skill and has developed a great understanding of the game of basketball. He's a humble young man with great parents, and he's blessed to stand at 7-foot-3 with such talent and a strong work ethic. Aday has great FIBA experience, having played within the Spanish basketball federation program while winning awards and championships at different levels. We can't wait to have him here with us in Westwood."

Mara has been rumored to be on the UCLA Bruin's radar for months, but the process of getting his release from his team in Spain has taken longer than expected.

With Mara at center, sophomore Adem Bona will likely move to power forward, a more natural position for him. Bona, a McDonald's All-American in high school, was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2022-2023, made the Pac-12 All-Defensive team, and led the Bruins in blocked shots. The Bruins will have a very imposing front line with the combination of Mara & Bona.

The Bruins now have six incoming freshman on their 2023-2024 men's basketball roster and one of the top recruiting classes in the country. The only players on the roster with significant playing time with the Bruins in the Pac-12 are Bona, point guard Dylan Andrews, center Kenneth Nwuba, and junior transfer Lazar Stefanovic, a 6–7-foot guard from Utah.

The Bruins will put a very young and talented team on the floor at Pauley Pavilion 2023-2024, but it will likely take time for the team to come together. The Bruins will get tested early in the Maui Invitational in November in Hawaii, starting off with their opener against Marquette. It should be a very entertaining season for Bruin basketball fans.


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