Your Way-Too-Early 2014-15 Pac-12 Power RankingsPosted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on April 9th, 2014
Another season in the books; another Pac-12 disappointment. We’ve got plenty of time to look back on the 2013-14 season, but it is onward and upward from here as we briefly look ahead to next year. We’re still not entirely sure exactly which of the players we watched this year will move on to greener pastures, and there are sure to be some surprise transfers (both incoming and outgoing) ahead of us, but in the days after the national championship, it is time to start dreaming about the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Below are our way-too-early Pac-12 power rankings.
- Arizona – Sure, Aaron Gordon’s stay in Tucson was brief. And yeah, Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson may join him in the NBA. But barring some surprises, five of the following six players are going to be comprising Sean Miller’s starting lineup next season: T.J. McConnell, Gabe York, Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski. Goodness gracious sakes alive, that is a lot of talent. And, the West Regional will not be held in Anaheim next season, so let’s go ahead and pencil Miller and his Wildcats into his first-ever Final Four.
- Stanford – Johnny Dawkins and company broke through this year with their first NCAA Tournament appearance under the current regime. And while some important players move on, a returning nucleus of combo guard Chasson Randle, wing Anthony Brown and big man Stefan Nastic is solid. Throw in a recruiting class with four different four-star recruits (as ranked by ESPN) and a bevy of talented returning youngsters and we’ll make the Cardinal the best bet in the league to challenge the Wildcats.
- UCLA – Steve Alford’s second season will tip off minus Kyle Anderson, Zach LaVine, the Wear twins and, possibly, Jordan Adams. That makes son Bryce Alford, senior-to-be Norman Powell and unproven center Tony Parker perhaps Alford’s only returning players from this year’s squad. Still, with 2013 four-star guard Isaac Hamilton ready for his first year of eligibility and a 2014 recruiting class highlighted by five-star power forward Kevon Looney, there will be no shortage of talent in Westwood.
- Oregon – Dana Altman will have a lot of work to do with the Ducks’ frontcourt, but with Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Joseph Young ready to be joined by four-star combo guard JaQuan Lyle, the backcourt is loaded. If Altman can again work his transfer magic and come up with a veteran frontcourt presence, or if guys like Ben Carter and Elgin Cook can take the next step forward, the Ducks could be dangerous.
- Utah – The Utes made their potential well-known this season, but 2014-15 will be that special window for them to break through. Multi-talented point guard Delon Wright will be in his senior season in Salt Lake City. Jordan Loveridge will need to take the next step. Guys like Brandon Taylor, Princeton Onwas, Dallin Bachynski and Jeremy Olsen will be solid role players. And then there are incoming talents like JuCo transfer Chris Reyes and freshmen Brekkott Chapman and Kyle Kuzma. Next year is the sweet spot for the Utes to not only make an NCAA Tournament, but potentially make some noise upon arrival.
- Colorado – Word on the street is that Spencer Dinwiddie, not yet three months removed from a torn ACL, is leaning towards forgoing his senior season in Boulder for the NBA Draft. While that isn’t great news for the immediate future for the Buffaloes, plenty of talent (Askia Booker, Josh Scott, Xavier Johnson, Wesley Gordon, Jaron Hopkins, Dustin Thomas, Tre’Shaun Fletcher, Xavier Talton) returns. Throw in four-star true-point Dominique Collier out of the Denver area and Tad Boyle may find a way to replace The Mayor without skipping a beat.
- California – At this point, we still aren’t sure who the next head coach will be in Berkeley (smart money appears to be on the 2013-14 associated head coach Travis DeCuire), but barring defections, there will be plenty of talent left behind. David Kravish will be back for his senior season in the frontcourt, with guys like Tyrone Wallace, Jabari Bird, Jordan Mathews and Ricky Kreklow forming a strong backcourt rotation. Certainly, whoever the next head coach is, an additional frontcourt body or two would be more than welcome.
- Washington – Nigel Williams-Goss, Andrew Andrews, Mike Anderson and Darin Johnson form a tough returning quartet around the perimeter. Up front, you’ve got Shawn Kemp and Desmond Simmons who are heading into their senior seasons. If Lorenzo Romar can get those front-court guys to blossom, and if Jernard Jarreau can return from his ACL-ruined season, the Huskies could surprise.
- USC – The Trojans were awful in Andy Enfield’s first year. But with four-star point guard Jordan McLaughlin joining up, with an All-Pac-12 type performer in Byron Wesley running the wing alongside him and with UNLV-transfer Katin Reinhardt ready to gun his way to a 20-point average, at least Dunk City West 2.0 will have a little firepower.
- Arizona State – Life post-Jahii Carson figures to be tough. Herb Sendek’s main returnees are Egor Koulechov, Jonathan Gilling and Eric Jacobsen. The incoming recruiting class is highlighted by a pair of middling back-court prospects. The Sun Devils will try their best to mine the transfer vein, but the fact is, Sendek didn’t do enough in the Carson era to feel completely safe in his job past 2014-15.
- Oregon State – Craig Robinson will head into his seventh season in Corvallis in serious need of improvement. Losing Roberto Nelson, Devon Collier, Angus Brandt and Eric Moreland (expected to leave early to pursue a professional career) will not make things any easier. But, combo guard Hallice Cooke had an enticing freshman season, classmate Malcolm Duvivier showed promise, and guys like Daniel Gomis and Olaf Schaftenaar have a future, while Gary Payton II (AKA, “The Mitten”) will try to improve on a promising JuCo run.
- Washington State – Ernie Kent takes over a Cougars team that is little more than DaVonte Lacy and parts. Guys like Que Johnson and Royce Woolridge have plenty of potential, but the new head coach is going to have to find some way to get some frontcourt players who are ready to compete at a Pac-12 level. If, somehow, that happens, this team could sneak up there and compete with teams like USC and Arizona State for the ninth spot or so, but overall expectations should be limited.