The RTC Interview Series: Pac-12 Preview with Don MacLean and Miles Simon

Posted by Walker Carey on November 6th, 2013


Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the offseason. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

With the college basketball season nearly upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to gather some expert opinions on the nation’s major college basketball conferences. To read through the entire 2013-14 preseason interview series, click here. As part of our national preview with the Pac-12, RTC correspondent Walker Carey recently had the pleasure of speaking with two Pac-12 experts in Pac-12 Network analyst and former UCLA star, Don MacLean, and ESPN analyst and former Arizona star, Miles Simon. (Ed. note – we spoke to each individual separately, but for the sake of expediency, combining their answers into a round table format made the most sense.)

Don MacLean and Miles Simon Shared Their Pac-12 Thoughts With Us

Don MacLean and Miles Simon Shared Their Pac-12 Thoughts With Us

Rush the Court: Arizona is the overwhelming preseason favorite in the league. What is it about Sean Miller’s team that has expectations so high in Tucson?

Don MacLean: The talent level there is very high. Sean Miller has brought in some very high-level recruits. Aaron Gordon brings another dimension for the team with his great athleticism and versatility to play inside and on the perimeter. T.J. McConnell is going to be great for the team. I worked the exhibition game last week and I was really impressed by McConnell. I think he is really good. He is the first true point guard that Sean Miller has had since he has been at Arizona. When you have all that talent, you need a pass-first guy to spread the ball around. From what I have seen, McConnell seems to be that guy. Sean Miller is also a great coach. With this roster, the depth that the team has, and Miller’s coaching, I think it is warranted to put Arizona as the best team in the league right now.

Miles Simon: Sean Miller obviously brought in a tremendous recruiting class. Getting Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Elliott Pitts to come in is a good place to start with this team. Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell is going to be an excellent addition for the team at point guard. When you look at this team, it is just so long and athletic. I think defensively, this might be the best group that Sean Miller has had since he has been at Arizona. There are just so many positives with this team going into the season.

RTC: Oregon made a surprise trip to the Sweet Sixteen last March after pulling off upsets over Oklahoma State and Saint Louis. Gone from last season’s team are Arsalan Kazemi and E.J. Singler, but the Ducks did secure the services of UNLV transfer Mike Moser. With Moser joining a team that has the talented backcourt of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson returning, should Dana Altman’s squad take a step forward in the Pac-12 this season and should another NCAA Tournament run be expected?

MacLean: You can never expect an NCAA Tournament run, but I think the team should be just as good. Do not forget that Oregon also added Joseph Young, the transfer from Houston. Adding Mike Moser as a fifth-year guy is an important piece and Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson will be better as second-year players. With what Dana Altman does with his style of play and the way he changes up defenses, I think the Ducks will be as good as they were last season.

Simon: I think Oregon will get back to the NCAA Tournament. It really has some nice pieces, but when you lose guys like Arsalan Kazemi, E.J. Singler, Tony Woods and Carlos Emory, you are losing what was the heart and soul of your team. A lot of leadership and toughness left with those guys. If Mike Moser is able to return to where he was with UNLV two years ago, he will be excellent. The backcourt of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson should be explosive and one of the best in the league. Johnathan Loyd is the third guard and he has some experience because he had to play a lot when Artis was injured last season. When you consider these pieces, this is a team that should get back to the NCAA Tournament and finish in the top half of the Pac-12.

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Pac-12 M5: 11.05.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 5th, 2013

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  1. It was upset weekend in the Pac-12 to start the month of November. What are we talking about, you may be wondering? The world of secret scrimmages, of course. SMU apparently handled Colorado on the road this weekend, with one source even saying that the Mustangs won by at least 20 points. In Tempe, San Francisco got by Arizona State with ease, another surprising result for the conference. Because of the nature of these controlled scrimmages, the results should certainly be taken with a grain of salt, but they are also not good news by any means. Lots of work is still left to be done before the regular season starts this weekend.
  2. Colorado forward Chris Jenkins chose to transfer out of the program Monday. He is a redshirt freshman who wasn’t expected to contribute under head coach Tad Boyle for the second straight season. Colorado opens its regular season Friday against Baylor in Houston.
  3. Washington has missed the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons, and senior guard C.J. Wilcox wants to finish his career in Seattle with a trip to the Big Dance. Wilcox is a fifth-year senior and will have to carry the Huskies if they are to return there. “This is my team,” says Wilcox. “I have to make sure I get these guys back to the NCAA Tournament and we can try to do some special things.” However, he will not be able to sneak up on anyone this season after averaging 16.8 PPG last year. If Washington is to navigate the tough Pac-12, the Huskies will need strong performances from new starters Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews, who will be playing alongside Wilcox in the backcourt when Lorenzo Romar chooses to go small.
  4. Most fans around the country like it when a high school senior signs with their favorite team in the spring. They then watch the player get acclimated to the program during his freshman season, play increased minutes his second year, and start as a junior and senior with the team. Oregon fans have come to expect something a little different. Duck fans rarely get a sense of familiarity with their roster as Dana Altman has built his team the last few seasons through one- or two-year transfer players. This year’s team is filled with six transfers, all of which are expected to contribute immediately. Altman’s squad opens its season on Friday at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, against Georgetown.
  5. The guys over at California Golden Blogs met in roundtable form on Monday and discussed California‘s 83-61 exhibition win over Humboldt State. The Bears scored the ball with efficiency and showed off their improved depth over last year’s squad. Head coach Mike Montgomery debuted a 10-deep roster without much of a worry as it appears the majority of the newcomers are already ahead of the curve. As evidenced by that, freshman guard Jordan Matthews led Cal with 15 points off the bench. Forward Richard Solomon added nine rebounds to go with his 11 points.
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Rating the Pac-12 Coaching Hot Seats

Posted by Andrew Murawa on October 31st, 2013

As a whole, it is pretty easy to see that the Pac-12 is on an upswing, with talent abounding and more than half of the conference teams optimistic about their chances this season. But in four spots around the conference, there are coaches in dire need of success in order to keep their jobs. Last year at this time, there were six coaches whose seats we deemed at least warm. Of those six, two are now gone, while the other four remain seated on toasty chairs. We’ll take a look at those four coaches and tell you just how worried they should be about their jobs this season, then go through the other eight schools briefly and tell you the state of the head coaching position there.

Johnny Dawkins, Stanford – Scalding. Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir made it quite clear last season that, while Dawkins would be returning for his sixth season on The Farm, there would be heavy expectations – namely, make the NCAA Tournament or else, something that Stanford has failed to do since the year before Dawkins arrived. The good news for Dawkins is that he’s got a fine team. The bad news is that this fine team is made up of mostly the same players who limped home to a 19-15 record last season.

Dawkins' Challenge Is Clear: NCAA Tournament or Bust (AP)

Dawkins’ Challenge Is Clear: NCAA Tournament or Bust. (AP)

Ken Bone, Washington State – Scorching. Last spring, Bone had to wait almost three weeks after his season ended to finally get confirmation from athletic director Bill Moos that he would be returning to coach the Cougars in 2013-14. In four seasons on the Palouse, Bone has compiled a tepid 70-65 overall record, winning just 26 of WSU’s 72 conference games over that span. In fact, the only reason Bone may still be around for this year is that Moos’ predecessor gave Bone a seven-year contract that would have required a $2.55 million buyout. With all-conference type Brock Motum gone, Bone will need to get significant improvement out of a guard-dominated lineup in order to stick around past this season.

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Pac-12 Team Preview: Washington Huskies

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on October 28th, 2013

We continue unveiling our team-by-team breakdowns, in roughly the reverse order of where we expect these teams to finish in the conference standings.

Washington Huskies

Strengths.  Washington only has two seniors on its roster, but the pair will be the key to this team’s success. In the backcourt is C.J. Wilcox, who is arguably the top senior in the Pac-12. His pure stroke is enough alone to keep the Huskies in games this season, and he will be looking to top his 16.8 points per game average from last year. Wilcox is as versatile as ever, according to head coach Lorenzo Romar, and as he goes, so does Washington. The other senior is center Perris Blackwell, a one-year fix who spent his last three years at San Francisco. Blackwell provides a much-needed offensive presence and has enough talent to prevent opponents from overplaying the Husky guards like they did last year.

Wilcox Will Be The Key To Washington's Success In 2013-14 (credit: Dean Rutz)

Wilcox Will Be The Key To Washington’s Success In 2013-14 (Credit: Dean Rutz)

Weaknesses. Matching six veterans and five newcomers expected to play immediately will be a challenge. Chemistry is a huge question, and if the Huskies don’t mesh quickly, opponents like Indiana, Connecticut and San Diego State will eat them alive. Wilcox needs to be a floor general and will have to bail out his teammates at times, which could be an uncomfortable spot for the senior.

Non-Conference Tests. Washington’s last three games before taking a break for Thanksgiving will give us a sense of just how improved the Huskies are. They’ll face Indiana and either Connecticut or Boston College on back-to-back nights in New York City before making the cross-country trip home to take on a Montana team that should win the Big Sky. Two of Washington’s first three games in the month of December will be played on the road against an elite mid-major (San Diego State), and one low mid-major (Tulane). Finally, following the road trip to New Orleans will be a visit from UConn, which could be the second Husky-on-Husky match-up in one month.

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Comparing Nigel Williams-Goss to Washington’s Last Five-Star Point Guard

Posted by Andrew Murawa on October 11th, 2013

Four years ago at this time, Lorenzo Romar and Washington were happily welcoming in freshman point guard Abdul Gaddy, considered a top 20 national recruit and the second best point in the 2009 class behind only John Wall. Expectations were high that Gaddy would step right in and, in conjunction with already established backcourt players like Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton, help continue a great era in Husky basketball. What followed instead was an underwhelming freshman campaign (3.9 PPG, 2.3 APG in 18 MPG), a torn ACL early in a sophomore year where he had appeared much improved, and then a pair of pedestrian seasons to round out his collegiate career.

Nigel Williams-Goss And The Man He'll Replace, Abdul Gaddy, Have A Lot Of Superficial Similarities

Nigel Williams-Goss And The Man He’ll Replace, Abdul Gaddy, Have A Lot Of Superficial Similarities

And now, as Romar is tasked with replacing Gaddy at the point, he welcomes in another highly regarded point guard recruit in Nigel Williams-Goss, a McDonald’s All-American regarded also as a top-20 recruit. With senior wing C.J. Wilcox locked in as a big-time scoring threat on the wing and a host of potential up front, it is possible that Williams-Goss could be the missing piece that helps take the Huskies back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. But Washington fans have reason to be skeptical.

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Breaking Down Pac-12 Non-Conference Schedules: Washington and Washington State

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 7th, 2013

October is here, and that means we are just weeks away from real, live basketball games. In order to prepare you for the first two months of the season, we’re going to break down all 12 non-conference slates over the next couple of weeks. Up first; the Washington schools.

Teams are listed in order of which they will be played. Last season’s RPI in parenthesis. Potential opponents (one round in advance) are italicized. All times listed are Pacific.

Washington

Lorenzo Romar, Washington

Lorenzo Romar’s Program Is on Shaky Ground Right Now (Geoffrey McAllister, AP)

Cream of the Crop: vs Indiana (8), @ San Diego State (30)

Washington has a pair of marquee opponents on its non-conference slate this season. The Huskies will face Indiana in New York City on November 21, in a game to be televised by ESPN2 at 6:00 PM. The Hoosiers finished 2012-13 with a 29-7 record and lost to Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen. Replacing their two leading scorers (and lottery picks) from last year will be of top importance heading into the season, and Washington will be IU’s first test. Equally as tough will be the trip to Viejas Arena to open the month of December. Senior guard Chase Tapley, and of course, the raucous student section known as The Show, will be waiting for the Dawgs. The game will be televised by CBS Sports Network at 12:05 PM on December 8.

Solid Names: UC Irvine (126), vs Boston College (113), Montana (74), Long Beach State (115), @ Tulane (178), Connecticut (49)

Connecticut headlines the second tier, and Washington could actually face the other Huskies twice this season, depending on how the 2KSports Classic shakes out. The scheduled match-up will be the final game before Christmas break, tipping off at 12:30 PM on ESPNU. When the two teams met last season in Hartford, freshman Omar Calhoun picked apart UW in UConn’s eight-point win. Now that Lorenzo Romar and company will get them in front of their own Dawg Pound, it says here that Washington gets a big revenge victory heading into the holiday. Northwest rival Montana could present a challenge. The Huskies always seem to drop a head-scratching home game or two (South Dakota State two years back, Albany and Nevada last season), and the Grizzlies are a likely candidate to continue the tradition. Seniors Mathias Ward and Kareem Jamar, both who averaged over 14 PPG last season, will lead a balanced Montana attack on the offensive end of the floor.

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Mike Moser’s Decision Begins To Answer Questions About Oregon’s Frontcourt

Posted by AMurawa on May 7th, 2013

After weeks spent considering Oregon, Washington, and Gonzaga, Mike Moser has apparently chosen the Ducks, according to Matt Prehm of 247Sports.com. Moser, who started his collegiate career in the Pac-10 back in 2009 with UCLA before spending a pair of seasons at UNLV, will be eligible immediately with one year of remaining eligibility. And for an Oregon team coming off a Sweet Sixteen performance, but needing to replace four departing frontcourt seniors, the decision begins to clear up the picture of who Dana Altman will be able to play with next season. In short, expect the Ducks to be in the thick of things in the Pac-12 again next season.

Reports Have Mike Moser Ready To Join Oregon For His Final Collegiate Season (Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

Reports Have Mike Moser Ready To Join Oregon For His Final Collegiate Season (Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

Moser’s time at UNLV was up and down, but when things were going good in Sin City, things were going real good. He broke out in a big way early in his sophomore campaign, bursting onto the national scene with 16 points and 18 boards in an upset win over then-#1 North Carolina back in November of 2011. And for the year, his numbers were very good, grabbing 10.5 rebounds per game (28.1 DR%, 9.5 OR%), scoring 14 a night and providing some decent punch from deep (33.1 3P%). He thought about bolting to the NBA after that performance, but returned to Vegas for his junior year and things didn’t go as planned. Looking to cement his credentials as a small forward prospect, Moser struggled with injuries, struggled to find a place alongside transcendent freshman talent Anthony Bennett, struggled with his shot and, well, let’s just say he struggled. His numbers dipped to 7.1 PPG and 6.1 RPG (23.4 DR%, 6.8 OR%), he never really found the range from deep (26.7 3P%) and his minutes dwindled, especially late in the season following a return from a dislocated elbow.

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Washington Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 22nd, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Washington.

What Went Right

The Huskies opened Pac-12 play with three straight road wins, then backed that up by knocking off Colorado at Hec Ed and it looked like the team was on the verge of turning things around after a horrid non-conference schedule. C.J. Wilcox was leading the way in scoring, having led the team in seven of its last eight games (all wins), Aziz N’Diaye was chipping in offensively and doing his normal yeoman’s work on defense and on the glass, and things were, all of a sudden, running smoothly. And then….

C.J. Wilcox's Offensive Burst Was The Biggest Bright Spot In An Otherwise Disappointing Season

C.J. Wilcox’s Offensive Burst Was The Biggest Bright Spot In An Otherwise Disappointing Season

What Went Wrong

And then the Huskies proceeded to revert to non-conference form (you know, when they lost home games to Albany, Nevada and Colorado State, the latter by like a million points), dropping eight of their next 10 games and averaging 0.88 points per possession over the losses in that stretch. Abdul Gaddy frustrated Huskies’ fans, Scott Suggs was only occasionally involved in the offense, Wilcox struggled with an ankle injury, N’Diaye reverted to his old familiar offensively incoherent self, and the wheels fell off. Worst of all, it was awfully hard to watch at times.

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Mike Moser To Washington: Does He Have a Position in Seattle?

Posted by AMurawa on April 6th, 2013

Though it is not official yet, news came down on Friday that Mike Moser, formerly of UCLA and most recently of UNLV, may wind up at Washington for the 2013-14 season. He’s expected to graduate from UNLV this summer, making him eligible to play his final season immediately in Seattle. There remains a chance he will make himself eligible for the NBA Draft this season, according to Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports, but most likely he will spend his final season of collegiate eligibility playing for Lorenzo Romar. Aside from the fact that this would make for a wild, back-and-forth college career for the 6’8” combo forward, it gives Romar and the Huskies a much needed talent boost as they try to earn their way back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons.

After Stops At UCLA and UNLV, Mike Moser May Be Wrapping Up His College Career At Washington (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

After Stops At UCLA and UNLV, Mike Moser May Be Wrapping Up His College Career At Washington (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Huskies lose Abdul Gaddy, Aziz N’Diaye, and Scott Suggs from this year’s middle-of-the-Pac team, but with wing C.J. Wilcox expected back for his senior campaign (although he has submitted paperwork to he NBA Undergraduate Committee to gauge potential interest if he were to leave school early), and with McDonald’s All-American Nigel Williams-Goss expected to step right into the starting point guard spot, the addition of Moser could put the Huskies back into the conversation in the Pac-12. Coming on the heels of a miss on highly regarded recruit Aaron Gordon, the addition of Moser would go a long way towards patching an athleticism gap on this team. He had a nightmare of a junior season in Vegas, where a dislocated elbow conspired with his inability to play effectively alongside freshman phenom Anthony Bennett knocked Moser from preseason All-American consideration down to a guy who averaged just seven points and six rebounds per game (huge drops from his 14/10 averages as a sophomore. Still, he is a long and lanky athlete with a great nose for a rebound, the ability to knock down threes and the frame to be a terrific and disruptive defender.

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Pac-12 M5: 04.04.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on April 4th, 2013

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  1. The annual McDonald’s All-America Game was played on Wednesday night, and fresh Arizona commitment Aaron Gordon was named the game’s MVP. Gordon scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the West to a 110-99 victory. Washington signee Nigel Williams-Goss was the West team’s best player off the bench, scoring 10 points and dishing out six assists. Jabari Bird, who is headed to California in the fall, added nine points in just 13 minutes of action.
  2. The Huskies still have one available scholarship for next season after Gordon spurned Lorenzo Romar for Arizona. The Husky Haul takes a look at where that extra scholarship should go in this piece. LoRo will likely go the JuCo route, opting for a post player with maturity and experience. Remi Dibo or Octavious Ellis would both be solid options for the Dawgs, a pair of face fours that would add a great scoring punch after the departures of Scott Suggs and Abdul Gaddy. As the article states, if Romar wants to add a player straight out of high school, Lennard Freeman or Junior Etou would likely be the only options.
  3. I still find this story ridiculous, but after yesterday’s complaining from Florida Gulf Coast athletic director Ken Kavanagh, USC has backed off the use of the “Dunk City” phrase. Stating that the moniker belongs in Florida, athletic director Pat Haden says that the Trojans are going to create their own cute phrase. Andy Enfield signed a six-year deal with the Trojans on Monday.
  4. Keeping it in the Southland, USC officially introduced Andy Enfield as its new head coach on Wednesday. While speaking at the introductory press conference, Pat Haden listed Enfield’s ability to develop talent and his up-tempo style of play as the main reasons he wanted the former FGCU head man so badly. Haden mentioned bringing the Trojans program back to relevance, and resetting the basketball culture from the slow-down style of Kevin O’Neill is of highest priority. Whether you agree with the qualifications of Enfield to become a Pac-12 head coach, there’s no question he has brought excitement back into the SC program. And that’s important, because it was slipping quickly.
  5. Also dropping Wednesday was the news out of Berkeley that junior California guard Allen Crabbe will forego his senior season with the Golden Bears to enter this summer’s NBA Draft. The move makes sense, as Crabbe has either been near the top of the league or at it in the scoring category the past two seasons, and he now wants to see how his game will translate at the next level. Crabbe is projected by most to be picked late in the first round.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.25.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 25th, 2013

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  1. On Saturday evening, word began to trickle out through various national reports that UCLA had fired head coach Ben Howland. Later that night, UCLA issued a statement disputing those reports. And then Sunday evening, the school officially announced his firing. It counts as “news” only in the strictest sense of the word, as exactly nobody was surprised by the announcement, but it does open up what should be an entertaining coaching search as the Bruins shoot for the stars and then wind up with… Mike Brown? Certainly, Jeff Goodman has better sources than I as to the UCLA coaching search, but if Mike Brown is the next UCLA head coach, I’ll walk down Sunset Boulevard in my boxers. Right after I join the UCLA fans rioting and looting with pitchforks and torches at the Morgan Center. Most reports indicate that Shaka Smart is the first choice for UCLA, though it remains to be seen whether he is interested. Other names associated with the search include Brad Stevens, Jay Wright and Washington’s Lorenzo Romar.
  2. The college basketball guys at CBS Sports also have their opinions on who will wind up with the vacant USC coaching job and, as we learned this weekend, it isn’t going to be Jamie Dixon. Other candidates for the job include Smart (apparently on everyone’s wish list), Memphis’ Josh Pastner and Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, although with the UCLA job open, it may be awhile before the USC decision is made.
  3. Certainly by now you all know that Arizona and Oregon are still marching along, while California, Colorado and those Bruins have all bowed out of the NCAA Tournament. But what about those lesser tournaments? Well, after winning the NIT title last season, Stanford’s attempted run to a second-straight lesser title ended on Saturday at Alabama. Arizona State, likewise, bombed out in the second round of the NIT in a barnburner at Baylor, while Washington got dropped by BYU in the first round.
  4. The other thing we see this time of year when teams’ seasons begin to end are players announcing their intentions for the NBA Draft. Oregon State’s Eric Moreland became the first Pac-12 player to officially declare (aside from Shabazz Muhammad having Howland declare for him, that is) his intentions to explore his NBA appeal without the help of an agent, leaving him with a chance to return to Corvallis. However, speculation is that Moreland’s time at OSU is done and that he’ll be playing for pay next season. While there’s little chance that the offensively raw Moreland will earn a guaranteed first round money even in what is considered a weak draft class, his athletic ability could earn him a second round flyer or, more likely, D-League or overseas offers.
  5. Meanwhile, Arizona State fans will have to sweat out Jahii Carson’s decision over the next couple weeks. Carson expects to consult with the NBA to suss out his draft status and “test the waters,” but depending on what he hears back, he could return. Carson’s got the speed, athleticism and moxie to be a very good NBA player, but at the end of the day, right now he’s a sub-6’0” point guard who lacks a completely reliable jumper. The odds are in favor of Carson returning for his sophomore season, but all he needs is one NBA GM to profess his undying love to convince Carson to follow the money. Stay tuned.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.06.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 6th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. So, yeah, quickly, the top candidates for the head basketball coach at USC: something like Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon, Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, interim head coach Bob Cantu and, um, former USC head coach Tim Floyd? Wait, run that last one by me again. Floyd is currently the head man at UTEP, a position he’s held for a few years after resigning from the USC gig (something about how he didn’t feel supported by then-USC athletic director Mike Garrett in the wake of allegations that guard O.J. Mayo accepted impermissible benefits from an agent). Floyd has long maintained a complete lack of involvement in the issue and plenty of investigations (both by USC and by the NCAA) have failed to turn up any evidence of wrongdoing on his part. Still, let’s not consider Floyd a leading candidate just yet. The meeting between Floyd and now-athletic director Pat Haden may have just been a way for the new AD to build a bridge over the bad blood in the wake of the parting, and Floyd, for his part, is using the surprising news as a way to get the word out publicly that “hey, I didn’t have anything to do with that.” Still, for a stretch there, Floyd put together four straight winning seasons including three in a row with 20-plus wins and NCAA Tournament invitations, including a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
  2. Across town, UCLA head coach Ben Howland let it slip, rather innocently and honestly, that Shabazz Muhammad was in all likelihood headed for the NBA Draft. And that’s not the only opinion he has on the state of the NBA, as he mentioned on Monday that he would prefer changes to the NBA’s eligibility rules that would end the one-and-done era. Howland’s plan would be similar to the rules presently used by Major League Baseball, whereby players would have the option to go straight from high school to the pros, but that once they wind up in college, they have to stay for a few years before being eligible again. Howland also knows that there’s not a chance that change gets made, at least anytime soon.
  3. Speaking of the NBA Draft, we posted our opinions here yesterday on the draft prospects of potential early entrants around the Pac-12, including Arizona State freshman guard Jahii Carson (we’re hoping he stays and develops a jumper). But Sun Devil head coach Herb Sendek claims that he hasn’t given the idea much thought, preferring instead to focus on this season. Still, we’re not buying the idea that it hasn’t even crossed his mind. Cal’s head coach, Mike Montgomery, however, was right to the point when asked about Carson’s pro prospects: “Doesn’t shoot it well enough yet.” The key there may be the word “yet.”
  4. If Carson does stick around for another season in the desert, he’ll have a new competitor in the state at point guard, as Arizona will unveil Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell as their new lead guard. The Daily Wildcat sees a parallel between McConnell’s skill set and the skills of UCLA point guard Larry Drew II. Compared to present UA point Mark Lyons, McConnell is more of the traditional pass-first, shoot-second floor general (of course, compared to Lyons, Allen Iverson is more of a traditional point guard). As Wildcat fans begin to grow weary of Lyons’ all-or-nothing style, the future is starting to look real good, even if that envisioned future is based on little more than partial information.
  5. Lastly, as we look ahead to this week’s games, Washington may be out of the race for the conference title but it still has a chance for some input, as the Huskies will host UCLA on Saturday night. Head coach Lorenzo Romar is hoping that his team can finish the regular season in style. They’ve put together a 13-3 record in the final four conference games of the previous four seasons, and are well on their way to a repeat of that mark with two wins last week. But with USC and UCLA both playing well, the Huskies have their work cut out for them this week.
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