Recapping the Pac-12 PreviewPosted by Connor Pelton on November 14th, 2011
Before we get too deep into the first few weeks of the season, let’s take a quick look back at our preseason coverage here on the Pac-12 microsite.
- All-Newcomers – Washington freshman Tony Wroten, Jr., and USC junior Aaron Fuller highlight the list Drew and I compiled. Highly touted guards Josiah Turner (Arizona) and Jabari Brown (Oregon) round out the cream of the crop in this feature.
- All Pac-12 – Four out of the five players (Gutierrez, Cunningham, Kamp, and Crabbe) on our All Pac-12 team were the easy, traditional picks, but Arizona State forward/guard Trent Lockett got the surprise final place instead of UCLA’s Nelson.
- Washington – The Huskies come into the season with one of the best four-guard rotations in the nation. Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross lead the group with Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox close behind. Aziz N’Diaye and Darnell Gant balance the offense out in the post.
- Washington State – The Cougars have been picked to finish in the bottom half of the conference by almost all preseason publications because of the loss of guard Klay Thompson. However, Washington State still returns combo-guard Marcus Capers and point guard Reggie Moore, two of the best defenders in the league last season. With the additions of Mike Ladd and DaVonte Lacy at shooting guard, something tells us that they won’t miss Thompson as much as everyone is predicting.
- Oregon – While Oregon returns key players like E.J. Singler and Tyrone Nared, it will be all about the newcomers in Eugene. Highly touted freshman Jabari Brown will make an immediate impact at guard, while Louisiana Tech transfer Olu Ashaolu should score major minutes with the departure of Joevan Catron.
- Oregon State – For the first time in his tenure in Corvallis, coach Craig Robinson says that he finally has the talent needed to compete in every game the Beavers play in. Combo-guard Jared Cunningham and small forward Devon Collier provide the most hope for Robinson, but he will need to do a better job of coaching in non-conference games if the Beavers want to improve their win-loss totals.
- California – The Golden Bears will be led by seniors Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp, two of the most respected players in the Pac-12. With the addition of Minnesota transfer Justin Cobbs at the point, opposing defenses will have a tough time covering all of the options.
- Stanford – The advantage to playing so many freshman last season is the Cardinal now have a ton of experience returning. Two of their four returning starters are sophomores, and if you group in sophomore guard Aaron Bright and lone newcomer Chasson Randle, Stanford has a chance to surprise in the Pac-12 this year.
- USC – With the loss of senior guard Jio Fontan to a torn ACL, the Trojans offense will be mediocre, at best, this season. But these guys can play defense, and will rely on their stingy attack to keep them close in tight games.
- UCLA – Led by power forward Reeves Nelson and center Joshua Smith, the Bruins boast one of the top frontcourts in the nation. The addition of North Carolina transfers David and Travis Wear only add to the depth.
- Arizona – Despite losing Derrick Williams (early departure) and Lamont (MoMo) Jones (transfer), the Wildcats can still go 11-12 deep on the bench without worry thanks to the additions of Sidiki Johnson, Josiah Turner, and Nick Johnson. However, the real production early on will come from upperclassmen like Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill, Jesse Perry, and Kyryl Natyazhko.
- Arizona State – The Sun Devils are as big as anyone in the conference and will use it to their advantage night-in and night-out. Seven-footers Jordan Bachynski and Ruslan Pateev are both stronger than last season, and if you group them in with Kyle Cain, opposing defenses will have fits competing on the boards.
- Colorado – There will be struggles in the early going for the Buffaloes as they lose four key players from last year’s team, but wings Carlon Brown and Andre Roberson should help ease the transition. However, there will be no way to replace the offensive production that Alec Burks, Cory Higgins, Levi Knutson, and Marcus Relphorde provided.
- Utah – The one team that can compete with Arizona State in terms of size are the Utes. 7’3″ center David Foster and 6’10” power forward/center Jason Washburn will be looked at to lead the Utes from the Pac-12 basement.