Welcome Back: Pac-12 Team-By-Team Offseason WrapPosted by AMurawa on October 7th, 2013
After a long offseason away from college basketball, we’re back. With practice underway across the country, with “Midnight Madness” events looming and with the start of the season on the not-too-distant horizon, it is time to end our hiatus and dig back into hoops. In a year where the Pac-12 seems to sport one legitimate national title contender and a healthy pack of NCAA Tournament contenders, we can finally say that the conference is back from the recent depths and ready to be a consistent contender on the national stage again. But, in taking an offseason sabbatical, we’ve missed some key storylines. So, in order to get you back in the swing of things, we’ll go team-by-team around the conference and quickly catch you up on some key offseason happenings. Later in the week we’ll break down some of these stories in a little more detail. Next week we’ll be back with our daily Morning Fives, and over the course of the next month, we’ll catch you up on everything you need to know going into the 2013-14 Pac-12 season. Without further ado, here’s what you need to know if you’ve been away from the conference for a few months.
Arizona – The conference’s clear preseason favorite got some good news over the offseason when 6’10″ sophomore forward Zach Peters was granted his waiver request by the NCAA for immediate eligibility after transferring from Kansas. A quality recruit in the 2012 class, Peters career never got off the ground in Lawrence largely due to injuries, including multiple concussions. If he can stay healthy, he’s a stretch-four who can provide another offensive threat for the Wildcats. Elsewhere, Sean Miller continued his hot streak on the recruiting trail, landing 2014 four-star power forward Craig Victor, while continuing his pursuit of additional heavy hitters in next year’s class.
Arizona State – It was an offseason roller coaster for the Sun Devils, with Evan Gordon opting to spend his senior season closer to home at Indiana, only to have Penn State transfer Jermaine Marshall decide that he’d spend his final season of eligibility in Tempe. Marshall, who averaged 15.3 points per game for a depleted Penn State squad last season, will likely slide right into the spot vacated by Gordon’s departure. It’s not all sunshine and roses for Herb Sendek’s team, however, as Jahii Carson is dealing with a stress reaction in his right leg that will limit him in practice during the early going.
California – Mike Montgomery’s squad had been having a relatively quiet offseason, right up until the time when senior point guard and leading returning scorer Justin Cobbs broke his right foot in August. Cobbs expects to be ready to go when the season tips off, and he’ll need to be in order to ease the transition to life without Allen Crabbe.
Colorado – Despite losing Andre Roberson a year early to the NBA Draft, this has been a promising offseason for the Buffaloes. Spencer Dinwiddie impressed at the World University Games over the summer, redshirt freshmen Wesley Gordon and Chris Jenkins continued their progress towards becoming major contributors to this year’s team, and sophomore center Josh Scott, who was at times physically overmatched last year, has added 20 pounds of muscle and looks due for a breakout year.
Oregon – Last March, when the Ducks got bounced out in the Sweet Sixteen by eventual national champion Louisville, Dana Altman was looking at a rebuilding year in 2013-14, having to replace his four best frontcourt players to graduation. But he went to work over the offseason, dug through the transfer pile and came up with Mike Moser from UNLV, Joseph Young from Houston, Jason Calliste from Detroit, Richard Amardi, a JuCo transfer who was once committed to Iowa State, and JuCo transfers Jalil Abdul-Bassit and Elgin Cook. There was one bit of bad news, as talented Brazilian prospect Christiano Feliciano was declared ineligible, but throw in a couple of freshman forwards and Altman has once again remade his roster on the fly. The Ducks are still waiting to hear if Young will be granted an eligibility waiver this season, but either way, there is plenty of talent in Eugene again.
Oregon State – Heading into a season where the head coach finds himself on the hot seat, having to suspend his two best frontcourt players is not a good start. But that’s exactly where Craig Robinson finds himself, after Eric Moreland and Devon Collier where suspended indefinitely back in July. Those indefinite terms became definite last week as Robinson announced that Moreland would miss 14 games, while Collier would miss only the opener. After unveiling a sparkling new practice facility back in June, things definitely took a turn for the worse later in the summer.
Stanford – Some of the worst news from around the conference this offseason came out of the Bay Area back in July when the Cardinal announced that senior forward Andy Brown suffered his fourth torn ACL, an injury that effectively ended his basketball career. Brown bounced back from tearing the ACL in his right knee three different times to become an excellent contributor for Johnny Dawkins’ club last season, but while this most recent injury is heartbreaking, at least Brown got in that one relatively healthy season last year.
UCLA – The first offseason under new head coach Steve Alford has been, well, trying. After initially keeping all of the recruits that committed to previous head coach Ben Howland, off-guard Allerik Freeman saw the writing on the wall and decided his best chance at earning playing time was elsewhere, so he was released from his scholarship and will matriculate at Baylor. Then, over the summer, Alford lost out to cross-town rival USC’s new head coach Andy Enfield in the recruitment of point guard Jordan McLaughlin, to Gonzaga in the battle for point guard Josh Perkins, and to Illinois for point guard Quentin Snyder. And just last week, the one player Alford had under commitment changed his mind, as wing Trevon Blueitt decided to reopen his recruitment. There was a bit of good news, however, as former UTEP commit Isaac Hamilton, regarded as a top-40 recruit this season, enrolled at UCLA. UTEP head coach Tim Floyd has previously denied Hamilton’s request to release him from his letter of intent, and the NCAA denied his appeal, but Hamilton is appealing again in an effort to play this season. Odds are, however, that Hamilton will not suit up for the Bruins until 2014-15.
USC – While Alford is struggling to get UCLA’s momentum going, across town Andy Enfield has the future of the Trojan program already looking bright. Over the summer, Enfield pulled in a commitment from Malik Price-Martin, a three-star center from Enfield’s old stomping grounds in Florida, followed by McLaughlin, a four-star point guard from the LA area. Better yet, Maryland transfer Pe’Shon Howard was granted a waiver by the NCAA to become eligible immediately, giving Enfield at least a chance at some success in his first Pac-12 season. Enfield has also landed three other transfers: D.J. Haley from VCU, who will be eligible immediately, and Katin Reinhardt and Darion Clark from UNLV and Charlotte, respectively, both of whom will be eligible next season. Meanwhile, Enfield remains in hot pursuit of five-star wing Stanley Johnson, going toe-to-toe with recruiters like John Calipari and Sean Miller for the talented local product.
Utah – It was a relatively quiet summer with no further defections and no injuries, an offseason of only good news, something Utah fans may not be used to. The good news largely centers around the future, as head coach Larry Krystkowiak is starting to land the recruits he’s been looking for, following up on last year’s Jordan Loveridge signing and this year’s Parker Van Dyke and Brandon Miller commitments by again landing a major in-state recruit in four-star power forward Brekkot Chapman. Since his commitment, the Utes have also garnered promises from four-star wing Kyle Kuzma and three-start point Isaiah Wright.
Washington – There was a time early in the offseason where it appeared that Mike Moser would wind up in Seattle rather than Eugene, but it was no such luck for Lorenzo Romar. In fact, it was just the most recent swing and a miss for Romar in the recruiting battles, a situation he hopes gets fixed thanks to a reunion with former assistant Raphael Chillious. But so far, there are no reinforcements coming to UW via the recruiting pipeline.
Washington State – In a make or break year for Ken Bone with an already unproven roster, the Cougars really need just about everything to go right for them. Suffice it to say, suspensions of two players before the season even begins in not something that is ideal. But, here we are, as Iowa State transfer Jordan Railey was suspended indefinitely last week for a “violation of team rules,” while junior college transfer Danny Lawhorn met a similar fate the week before. Both players were expected to have significant roles on the team this year, so clearly things are not off to a good start in Pullman.