Pac-12 Preseason Poll, Superlatives & All-Conference Teams

Posted by Andrew Murawa on November 13th, 2015

Over the past three weeks, we’ve unveiled individual previews for each of the 12 conference teams (for a full list with links, scroll down to the very bottom of this post). Now it is time to put it all together and take a look at the Pac-12 as a whole. So we gathered our most knowledgeable Pac-12 aficionados and voted on things like projected conference standings, All-Conference Teams, and Player of the Year. Below we’ll unveil those results.

First, though, since this is a team sport, let’s get right to the heart of the matter and review our preseason Pac-12 poll. We asked each of our pollsters to rank each team from #1 through #12 and found some interesting results. Three of our four voters picked Arizona to three-peat as the regular season champion, while the fourth person picked Oregon. Utah and Cal are in the mix as well, while the biggest gap separates spots #6 (Oregon State) and #7 (Arizona State).

Screenshot 2015-11-11 12.56.49

Compared with last season’s standings, Cal is the team expected to take the biggest jump, which is no surprise given Cuonzo Martin’s stellar recruiting class. On the flip side, our voters are less bullish on Stanford across the Bay. Last year the Cardinal finished tied for fifth in the conference and won the NIT. This year? Two of our voters pick them as the absolute worst team in the Pac-12.

Now on to the players. Normally in this spot we’d have several paragraphs detailing our different picks for Pac-12 Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Freshman of the Year. This season we’re getting off easy, however, as a single player is our pick for all three of those awards: California’s Jaylen Brown. The freshman from Marietta, Georgia, chose Berkeley, of all places, and Cuonzo Martin, of all coaches, over more prominent suitors like John Calipari at Kentucky and Bill Self at Kansas. Ponder that for a second. In joining a team already loaded with talented perimeter players, the 6’7” Brown will spend time working both inside and out. He’s capable of stepping out to the arc and knocking in a three, or he’ll kill you by running the floor and getting easy hoops in transition. He’s strong and athletic enough to bang on the boards with bigs, and his finishing ability? Goodness. He’ll need to prove that he can be a good teammate on a team with Final Four talent, but our voters are clearly buying in to what he’s selling early and often. He was our unanimous choice for both the freshman and newcomer spots, with only one holdout opting for Gary Payton II as conference POY instead of Brown.

Jaylen Brown's High-Flying, Rim-Attacking Game Won Over Our Pac-12 Voters (AP Photo/The Gazette, Michael Ciaglo)

Jaylen Brown’s High-Flying, Rim-Attacking Game Won Over Our Pac-12 Voters (AP Photo/The Gazette, Michael Ciaglo)

Speaking of Gary Payton II, he gets a consolation prize as our pick for Defensive Player of the Year on the strength of two of our four votes (Utah’s Jakob Poeltl and Oregon’s Jordan Bell each took home a single vote). Payton, the reigning Pac-12 DPOY, led the league in steals last season with more than three per game and was the best player in the nation in steal percentage, registering a theft on 5.5 percent of all defensive possessions. Perhaps even more impressively, he was eighth in the league in blocked shots – not bad for a 6’3” guard. His presence in Corvallis has helped transform a team that was ranked 215th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency to one that finished last year ranked 16th.

Both of those players earned spots on our all-conference team, and unlike the Pac-12 conference administrators, we know that only five players can play at the same time in basketball. Here’s the entirety of the RTC All-Pac-12 First Team, in order of the highest vote totals.

  • F Jaylen Brown, Fr, California
  • G Gary Payton II, Sr, Oregon State
Gary Payton II Is Not Only On The RTC All-Pac-12 Team, But He's The Pick For DPOY (Oregon State Athletics)

Gary Payton II Is Not Only On The RTC All-Pac-12 Team, But He’s the Pick For DPOY. (Oregon State Athletics)

  • C Jakob Poeltl, Soph, Utah – The Austrian seven-footer turned a lot of heads in his freshman season with his combination of size, skill and athleticism. He’s got plenty of room to add polish to his game, but he’s got the attention of NBA scouts despite some prominent flaws. Poeltl needs to show improvement on his post moves, his aggressiveness around the hoop and his free throw shooting (43.3 percent as a freshman) in the absence of All-America point guard Delon Wright. If that happens, Utah has a chance to improve upon last season’s outstanding success.
  • G Tyrone Wallace, Sr, California – The second Golden Bears representative in our first five, Wallace is the league’s gold standard at point guard. In his first full season playing the point, Wallace ranked fifth in the conference in assists while also averaging 17.1 points (fourth in the Pac) and 7.1 boards per game (fifth in the Pac). With reinforcements now on board, his assist totals should improve while those latter two numbers are likely to dip. It would also certainly help if Wallace’s jumper improves, as he shot just 31.8 percent from three last season after a strong early start.
  • G Bryce Alford, Jr, UCLA – The conference’s most controversial player, bar none, Alford’s numbers are impeccable: 15.4 PPG (eighth), 4.9 APG (fourth), 83.8 FT% (fourth), 93 made threes (first) at a 39.1% clip (10th). Still, his propensity for taking some wild looking shots, occasionally logging some horrific field goal percentages, and that he’s the head coach’s son, makes him a target of derision. That doesn’t change the fact that our voters recognize him for what he is — one of the conference’s best all-around players.

And, just because five players is not enough, we’ll add a second team just for fun.

  • C Josh Scott, Sr, Colorado
  • F Ryan Anderson, Sr, Arizona
  • F Josh Hawkinson, Jr, Washington State
  • G Allonzo Trier, Fr, Arizona
  • G Brandon Taylor, Sr, Utah

Lastly, before we put all this preview stuff away and move on to the actual games, here’s all the work we’ve put together on the microsite in the preseason. Along with in-depth previews of all 12 conference teams, we’ve got all the rest of the information you need to get you ready to follow the conference this season. Now, let’s play some ball.

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AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

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