Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference TeamsPosted by Mike Lemaire & Adam Butler on November 11th, 2016
Nothing grinds our gears quite like the end of season Pac-12 All-Conference team selection. There is no reasonable explanation for going to the trouble of naming an official first team and an official second team and then casually picking 15 PLAYERS to fill those two teams. We are all for honoring the conference’s 15 best players, but the way to do that is by just making a third team. We are probably taking this way too seriously, but when the official All-Pac 12 team is 10 players deep, it cheapens the honor. Gary Payton II and Jakob Poetl deserved to be separated from guys like Elgin Cook and Rosco Allen last season. Instead it felt more like they were receiving participation trophies for being really good. We are not as inclusive. There are five players on our Pac-12 first team and there are five players on our Pac-12 second team. Picking these teams before the season begins is always a bit of a fruitless exercise. The order of things is bound to change once the season starts and actual play can be evaluated. Aside from the occasional Ivan Rabb or Dillon Brooks, there are usually as many as 25 players deserving of consideration. We started our list with roughly that number of candidates and trimmed it from there. There were very few consensus selections this year, as you will see when we share our thoughts behind the 10 selections below.
ALL-PAC-12 FIRST TEAM
- Dillon Brooks, Junior, Oregon
- Ivan Rabb, Sophomore, California
- Allonzo Trier, Sophomore, Arizona
- Lonzo Ball, Freshman, UCLA
- Markelle Fultz, Freshman, Washington
ML: This was one of the more difficult teams to peg in recent memory and the race to make it was almost entirely wide open. Rabb is the only real shoo-in. He will be stronger this season and is easily the conference’s best big man. Brooks needs to get healthy, but Oregon doesn’t seem overly concerned that he will miss extensive time. He is a no-brainer for this team assuming he returns to form on the court relatively soon. Trier could make us look foolish if his mysterious absence turns into a lengthy suspension, but if he plays, he is will score in bunches and should be a better playmaker this season. Fultz and Ball haven’t yet played a single minute of college basketball, but both would be lottery picks if the NBA Draft was held today and each is talented enough to contend for national honors as well as conference awards.
AB: While some of the First and Second team pieces feel interchangeable, I’d take these five against any five in the nation. And others agree, as the AP All-American voters put three of these guys on their ballots (Rabb, Brooks and Fultz). Rabb is perhaps the most heralded player on the first team. He’ll be the key piece of everything Cal does. Our other two returnees, Brooks and Trier, are unfortunately muddled in question marks. For Brooks, it’s a foot injury that has an indefinite return date. He is a hybrid player, a matchup nightmare, a first team Pac-12 performer and an All-American. Trier, however, is a mystery. His skill isn’t. He’s a slashing guard who can get a basket from anywhere on the floor. I had him as a closet All-American this season, but now we aren’t even sure if he’ll play this season. Nonetheless, he’s a first team talent. What’s also unknown is just how good these freshman are. To split hairs, Fultz should have far more of an opportunity to shine as an individual. The Huskies are going to play at a glorious, breakneck pace and he will get all of the scoring opportunities. Conversely, Lonzo Ball joins a UCLA team with what’s effectively an established system. The Bruins are returning 75 percent of their minutes and already have a crowded backcourt as it is. But Ball is too good to keep off the floor — a fantastic shooter and an even better distributor, his best characteristics will be on full display in Westwood.
ALL-PAC 12 SECOND TEAM
- Chris Boucher, Senior, Oregon
- Jordan McLaughlin, Junior, USC
- Isaac Hamilton, Senior, UCLA
- Tyler Dorsey, Sophomore, Oregon
- George King, Junior, Colorado
ML: Boucher is perhaps the most intriguing player in the conference as well as the wildcard on this team. He is an efficient offensive stretch forward and one of the best shot-blockers in the country, but he disappeared for long stretches last season and needs to be more assertive. Hamilton made this team last season and picking between he and classmate Bryce Alford is a true toss-up — we like Hamilton because he is the more well-rounded player. McLaughlin should be considered the front-runner to lead the conference in scoring but he is also a sneaky good defender. Dorsey may take 200 triples this season and the scary thing is that he may convert 40 percent of them. The sky is the limit for the sophomore. If Tad Boyle can get King interested in rebounding and playing defense, the San Antonio native will become a two-way terror on the Front Range. Already one of the best three-point shooters in the conference, King has the size (6’6″, 220 pounds) and athleticism to go for 20 points and 10 rebounds on any given night — he just may need some convincing.
AB: While the Pac-12 is going to call its first team with 10 names on it come March, the RTC preseason teams will represent a normal basketball squad of five players each. And these five are fantastic. It’s just that in our preseason estimations, the other five stand out as phenomenal. Also consider that one of our second teamers is on the cover of Sports Illustrated and you begin to have thoughts of a First Team v. Second Team contest. Wouldn’t that be something? Alas, in looking over this group you can begin to imagine the guard depth in this conference. It’s something of an annual thing but Pac-12 guards are a sound group. Represented here are King, McLaughlin and Dorsey. King was a breakout star last year, something of a surprise. McLaughlin finally got healthy and made 42 percent of his three-pointers. He’s poised to have a monster year in the assist category with Julian Jacobs moving on. And Dorsey? He might be the most skilled scorer in what will be the conference’s best offense. Three very deserving All-Conference players filling spots that could be occupied by: most of UCLA’s guard roster, David Crisp, Jabari Bird, Kadeem Allen, Lorenzo Bonam, Tra Holder, Tres Tinkle (forward-ish), Elijah Stewart, Dorian Pickens, and more.