CBS Sports’ Top 100 Players: The Pac-12 BreakdownPosted by Andrew Murawa on October 22nd, 2013
Last week, CBSSports.com’s group of writers announced their picks for the top 100 college basketball players in the 2013-14 season. It’s a fun if meaningless exercise that is created in order to promote some good old-fashioned discussion. And we’re nothing if not compliant here, so we’re going to spend some time looking at each of the 11 Pac-12 players that were selected and tell you if they’re rated too high, too low, or just about right. And when we’re done with that, we’ll give you two other players who should be in the discussion for inclusion on that list.
- #9 Jahii Carson, Sophomore, Arizona State – Carson got some love, and deservedly so. After a freshman campaign in which he broke out with 18.3 points and 5.0 assists per night, all accounts are that he has tightened up his jumper over the offseason. On this list, you will find Carson as the third point guard behind only Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and Ohio State’s Aaron Craft. And let’s put it this way, we would all probably love to see Carson get a crack at either of those guys. I can’t argue with where Carson is slotted, but I’ll say this much — of the players returning to college basketball this season, there is not a single one I would rather watch, in terms of potential for amazing plays, than Carson.
- #10 Aaron Gordon, Freshman, Arizona – We have heard comparisons like “Blake Griffin with a better basketball IQ” and we have seen the nasty highlight reel. His performances over the summer in international play did nothing to reduce expectations and the potential for a ridiculously exciting season in the desert is high. But depending on how Gordon’s jumper is developing, this number may be a little high. He’s definitely within the top 10 prospects in the game right now, but it remains to be seen if his production this season can match his eventual potential.
- #21 Spencer Dinwiddie, Junior, Colorado – The Mayor has gone from a three-star recruit who was somewhat ignored by coaches in his own Southern California backyard to one of the most dependable performers in the conference. He gets the ball in his hands a lot, uses up a ton of possessions in a highly efficient manner, and still has the ability to get even better as he tightens up his jumper. So #21 seems about right, although I might be inclined to argue that he deserves to be ahead of Xavier’s Semaj Christon and Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier, the two players directly ahead of him on the list.
- #27 Kyle Anderson, Sophomore, UCLA – Slo-Mo took a backseat to fellow 2012 top-five recruit Shabazz Muhammad in the hype department, but still turned in a solid and versatile rookie campaign (9.7 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 3.5 APG) in Westwood despite playing off of the ball for the first time in his career. This year, he’ll be the team’s point guard on the offensive end, while still being expected to play up front defensively. The return to a familiar role should benefit everybody, allowing the 6’9″ Anderson an ability to show off his elite basketball IQ. We would still need to see Anderson do it well at this level before completely trusting him, so in terms of ranking, I would probably prefer to flip-flop him with the next player on this list.
- #32 Jordan Adams, Sophomore, UCLA – If Anderson took a backseat to Muhammad in UCLA’s 2012 recruiting class, Adams was stuck in the trunk as almost an afterthought, perhaps even behind center Tony Parker in terms of expectations. Adams came in and from day one and was the Bruins’ most consistently explosive scorer all season long. While Muhammad outscored him based on little more than the lack of a conscience, Adams averaged 15 points per night and posted ridiculously good offensive efficiency numbers. He is returning from a broken foot suffered in the Pac-12 Tournament, but provided that he is again healthy, Adams can again be counted on to score in a variety of ways for the Bruins. Assuming that good health, he’s a sure thing.
- #59 Nick Johnson, Junior, Arizona – The last remaining member of Arizona’s highly regarded 2011 recruiting class, Johnson is one of the most athletic, high-flying players in the conference. He has suffered through some poorly-timed shooting slumps in each of his first two seasons in Tucson, but unlike his freshman year when his shooting woes affected his confidence elsewhere, last season Johnson showed the ability to positively impact the game even when his shot wasn’t falling. He will again be on the very short list of the best perimeter defenders in the conference, if not the country, and he has turned into a veteran leader for the Wildcats as well. I’m glad Johnson was remembered on this list and have no problem with where his is slotted.
- #67 Dwight Powell, Senior, Stanford – Powell, on the other hand, is severely underrated. I would have had no qualms to see him ranked above the pair of Bruins mentioned previously on this list. He can do it all on the court: post moves, a face-up game off the bounce, deepining range on his jumper, above-the-rim highlight capability, generous passer, and tenacious defender. Last year he was among the best players in the league; with improvement, he could be the best, hands down. Really, you’re gonna put this guy behind players like (and no disrespect intended, but) Dwayne Evans and Le’Bryan Nash and Chaz Williams? Unthinkable.
- #74 Justin Cobbs, Senior, California – He may not be the most consistently good decision-maker on the planet, but when Cobbs has got it going, he’s equally as adept distributing the ball as he is scoring it himself. With four seasons of experience in the rear view mirror (including a transfer season spent watching from the bench), he’s a veteran that his teammates can rely on as a leader. Considering all the positives alongside the negatives, #74 on this list is just about right.
- #78 Mike Moser, Senior, Oregon – There was a time, somewhere back in the first half of the season two years ago, when the idea that Moser would ever be this low on this kind of list (let alone still be playing college ball at this point) would have been unthinkable. But then last year, a season complete with an injury and a teammate that overshadowed him, knocked Moser off the map. If the talented big man can regain his swagger and if Dana Altman can find a way to play to his strengths, Moser could greatly exceed this ranking.
- #92 C.J. Wilcox, Senior, Washington – Were it not for injuries during his time in Seattle, Wilcox would be another good candidate as higher on this list. A pure shooter whose 36.6 percent three-point rate last year was a severely disappointing career-low, Wilcox has nevertheless added other bits to his game over the years. While not a guy who is often going to blow by defenders, he’s at least good enough to demand respect from the guy checking him. And when all else fails, he runs off screens with the best of them. If his foot is back to full strength this year, he will lead the Huskies’ charge to return to the NCAA Tournament.
- #93 Jabari Bird, Freshman, California – Our last entry on this list is perhaps the least-known entity here, but this five-star freshman is expected to slip right into the spot vacated by last year’s Pac-12 Player of the Year, Allen Crabbe, and Golden Bear fans don’t expect much of a dropoff. Bird may not have quite as sweet a stroke as Crabbe, but he is more explosive and much more dangerous off the bounce. If he indeed lives up to the hype, he’ll deserve this spot by the end of the season.
Two Players Missing From This List
- Roberto Nelson, Senior, Oregon State – It took him some time to get eligible, and then even more time to get comfortable and in peak shape, but last year Nelson turned into the type of player he was always expected to be in Corvallis. Last year he averaged just a hair under 18 points per night despite being the only consistent offensive threat on his team, and he has got plenty of room to perk up his shooting percentages on his way to a better than 20-point average this season.
- Damyean Dotson, Sophomore, Oregon – The 6’5″ off-guard suffered through some inconsistency in his freshman campaign, especially late in the year after his running mate Dominic Artis suffered an injury, but he’s a great scoring guard inside the arc with a sweet enough shot to vastly improve on his 32.9 percent rate from deep. He may have to share the spotlight with his other talented teammates, but he is the Ducks’ most explosive offensive threat and could show it frequently this season.