Pac-12 M5: 10.12.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on October 12th, 2012

  1. One of the things we love about college basketball is that every year, there are loads and loads of teams with brand new looks. You’ve got freshmen coming in and transfers and kids back from injuries. The entire makeup of a team can change from year to year, for better or for worse. This year in the Pac-12 is no different, but in some cases, these changes seem to be a bit more extreme than normal, with several teams across the conference ready to unveil a completely remade roster. Today, as practices kick off around the country, we’ll take a look at five of those teams, beginning with Utah, where second-year head coach Larry Krystkowiak welcomes in a roster that returns just two scholarship players from last year’s 6-25 team. Given the depths to which the talent level plunged in Salt Lake City last year, the remake was desperately needed, and Krystkowiak is certain that the team is ready to be much more competitive. With 10 new scholarship faces on the roster, the battle for time is tight and ongoing, with the head man mentioning that the Ute starting lineup may be a shifting five over the course of the year.
  2. As bad as the Utes were last year, USC was even worse, limping (quite literally) home to a 1-17 record. Along the way, the Trojans turned into the walking wounded with dozens, if not hundreds, of players (overstatement is of use here) lost for the season to injury. But not only does Kevin O’Neill have many of those players coming back from last year’s injuries, but he’s got transfers galore and, all told, plenty of talent up and down the bench. Never one for understatement, O’Neill last season called then sophomore center DeWayne Dedmon a future NBA lottery pick, while this year he is going out on a limb and projecting Rice transfer Omar Oraby as a future 12- or 13-year pro, although USC is still waiting on word from the NCAA as to whether he’ll receive a waiver to be able to play this year. But O’Neill is most excited about getting back the services of senior point guard Jio Fontan, whom he calls the heart and soul of the team.
  3. Washington State’s 2011-12 season was slightly more successful than either of the above teams’, but like both USC and Utah, the Cougs will unveil a new-look squad as well. Brock Motum returns after his breakout junior season, as does returning starter DaVonte Lacy and four other players, but things are going to have to be different in Pullman this season. But despite being minus recently-dismissed point guard Reggie Moore, head coach Ken Bone thinks this will be a better team than last year, with the combo of Lacy and Kansas-transfer Royce Woolridge being an upgrade over the would-be senior. And Bone hopes that the Cougs’ underdog status will help the squad “pull together.” Reading between the lines a bit, it seems I may not be the only one who thinks the loss of Moore could turn out to be addition by subtraction.
  4. Oregon advanced to the NIT last season, but after five graduating seniors and three freshmen transferring out of the program last year, the Ducks were in need of a talent infusion of their own. Enter a five-man freshman class, two junior college transfers, and Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi (who is appealing to the NCAA for immediate eligibility), and returnee EJ Singler, for one, is excited about the additional size and athleticism added to Dana Altman’s roster. The number of new players could jump to nine once the football season ends, assuming freshman Arik Armstead joins the team in January, but the number could have even been 10. However, junior college transfer Devon Branch opted not to enroll at UO for the fall semester, instead opting to go the Division II route, which would give him one more season of eligibility than he would have had in Eugene.
  5. The roster makeover for Washington is not as massive as in any of the above four stops, but the Huskies are without their two highest profile stars from last season’s Pac-12 regular season champion. Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. left eligibility on the table when they split for the NBA, but it was no secret that last year’s squad underachieved in part due to chemistry issues that never got fully resolved. Lorenzo Romar commented on Twitter that this team has the chemistry and attitude that the coaching staff appreciates, a remark that seems to draw a direct comparison to last year’s squad. Put on your special glasses and it might as well read: “last year’s team had no chemistry because there were too many guys worried about getting the credit.” There’s still plenty of talent up in Seattle, with proven upperclassmen Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox and Aziz N’Diaye leading the way, so if the intangibles shift a little in the right direction, the 2012-13 edition of the Huskies could be an improvement on last year’s more talented squad.
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Washington Week: Q&A With UW Dawg Pound’s Ben Knibbe

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 15th, 2012

As we go to wind down our coverage of the Washington basketball program, we head back to Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound for his perspective on the Huskies. Here’s our conversation on the immediate future for Lorenzo Romar and Washington.

RTC: Washington loses Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross at the guard spot. Will the role there be filled “by committee”, with C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy leading the charge, or something else?

BK: While the losses of two NBA lottery talents in Wroten and Ross will sting, the Huskies have the depth to survive the loss. The production of two such talents can rarely be reloaded with the ease John Calipari displays at Kentucky. Coach Lorenzo Romar almost always is deep at the guard position, and this coming season will be no different. Ross’ outside shooting will be replaced by the return of senior guard Scott Suggs. Suggs redshirted last season after suffering a foot injury before the season started, and while he could have returned partway through the season, he decided to redshirt and play in this upcoming season. Suggs also has the ability to handle the point guard position in a pinch. Wroten may have been a major talent, but he frustrated many Husky fans, myself included, with his constant boneheaded mistakes, ball dominance and complete and utter lack of a jump shot. His slashing ability will be replaced by redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews. Andrews impressed in practice, and is considered a talent that just has to be put on the floor.

There will also be the maturation of a healthy Gaddy and Wilcox. Gaddy was never completely confident with his knee following tearing his ACL in practice his sophomore season; Wilcox was not only limited in practice after suffering a stress fracture in his femur, he was relegated to 50 jump shots per day as his entire practice. I may be in the minority on this, but the growth and healing process or Suggs, Gaddy, and Wilcox, combined with the addition of Andrews and junior college transfer Mark McLaughlin (more on him later), will more than replace the losses of Wroten and Ross.

Senior Scott Suggs Returns From A Right Foot Injury To Bolster An NBA Draft-Depleted Husky Roster (credit: Drew McKenzie)

RTC: Did you think Washington deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament last season, or did losing the final two games before Selection Sunday seal their fate?

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Washington Week’s Burning Question: How To Replace A Pair Of First Round Draftees?

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 14th, 2012

Pachoops’ Adam Butler is once again back to assist with our Burning Question, along with Washington basketball insider Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound. Here’s our question of the week:

In this “one-and-done” era of college basketball (or two-and-queue, or even three-and-leave), it is pivotal for upper-tier teams like Washington to reload, not rebuild, after losing two guards to the NBA Draft. It looks as if the Huskies have the pieces in place to do just that, as Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox return, Scott Suggs comes back from injury, and newcomers Andrew Andrews and Mark McLaughlin are there to back them up. But of course, replacing a pair of first-rounders is much more difficult than it may seem. Do you think the Dawgs will be able to make a smooth transition that leads to a fourth NCAA Tournament bid in five years, or will they be relegated to the NIT in back-to-back seasons?

Terrence Ross (right) and Tony Wroten, Jr. (left) were selected eighth and 25th in the 2012 NBA Draft, respectively. (credit: Ted S. Warren)

Connor Pelton: By the end of the season I expect the Huskies to be right on the NCAA bubble, and most likely on the good side of it. But while I do expect them to put out a solid group of guards night in and night out come January, there are bound to be struggles early on after replacing Tony Wroten, Jr. and Terrence Ross. I don’t think they will miss a beat at shooting guard, as C.J. Wilcox has ridiculous range, and although he isn’t as great a rebounder (which is why Ross went in the top 10), the Huskies have enough bigs in Aziz N’Diaye, Desmond Simmons, Shawn Kemp, Jr., and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to take care of those loose boards. Even if Wilcox is having an off night, Lorenzo Romar can pull the Mark McLaughlin lever, who just happened to lead all junior college players in scoring last season, or even go to Scott Suggs, who sat out last year with a stress fracture in his foot. The problem lies at the one spot. Wroten was solid in all three phases of the game — scoring, rebounding, and passing — so replacing him is going to be a much tougher task. Abdul Gaddy may be a more pure point guard, but his ability to take the ball into the lane and consistently put it in the hoop is nowhere near Wroten’s; at least it wasn’t last year. Wroten’s ability to force his way into the paint also clogged things down low, constantly leaving Ross open. Overall, the Dawgs have a fine group of guards, but the one thing missing is that special take-over ability, and that could lead to a few extra losses. Losses that were turned into wins by Wroten last season.

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Washington Week: Reinforcements Arrive Among Three Newcomers

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 12th, 2012

The list of newcomers is short and sweet for Lorenzo Romar in 2012-13, but that doesn’t mean the pair of redshirt freshmen and junior college transfer won’t make an impact. Thanks to Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross departing early for NBA, a pair of Northwestern kids will be big parts of the Husky offense next season at both the one and two. Darnell Gant is also leaving his post due to graduation, so Romar will turn to another redshirt to provide depth down low. Below, we’ll introduce you to each of those three newcomers, roughly in the order of impact that they’ll have on their new team.

  • Andrew Andrews, Freshman, Point Guard, 6’2” 195 lbs, Benson Polytechnic High School, Portland, Oregon – Andrews established himself as a quick, tough, and fearless point guard throughout last season in practice. With the departure of Wroten, he will be second in line to get playing time at the one, but if he can show coaches early in the season that he has the same good scoring ability that he had in high school, he could earn much more playing time as a combo-guard. After all, there’s always room for guards with athletic, scoring ability in Romar’s offense. Andrews underwent hip surgery in late March, but that shouldn’t have any effect on his game come October.
Andrews Is The Type Of Slashing Point Guard That Can Score When Needed, Perfect For Coach Romar’s Offense (credit: Steven Gibbons)
  • Mark McLaughlin, Junior, Shooting Guard, 6’6” 205 lbs, Tacoma Community College – McLaughlin’s lights-out shooting ability has him heading into the season as the backup two guard. He is transferring in from nearby Tacoma Community College, where he led all junior college scorers with 28.4 PPG in 2011-12. Before transferring there, McLaughlin played under Cameron Dollar at Seattle U in 2010-11. He didn’t have a bad season by any means, averaging 7.2 PPG and 3.6 RPG,  but he only saw action in just over half of the Redhawks’ games, so he decided to move south to Tacoma. The guy has tremendous upside, but you have to wonder if playing at his third college in three years, and fifth school in seven years, is problematic. Regardless, if he can shoot the ball like he did last season, he will find his way onto the floor in no time. Read the rest of this entry »
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Washington Week: Players Not Returning

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 10th, 2012

Out of the seven players who played major minutes for Washington in 2011-12, one is lost to graduation and the other two decided to depart Seattle early for the NBA Draft. A fourth player, also graduating, only averaged 2.8 MPG and picked up those minutes in garbage time. The two players that skipped town early were guards, but there are both young and experienced players waiting in the wings at the position who are ready to take over. Replacing a pair of senior forwards will be a slightly more difficult task, especially early on in the season when the Huskies will face Seton Hall, Saint Louis, Connecticut, and possibly Ohio State. Below we fill you in on their details in their order of importance to the program.

  • Terrence Ross – Two years ago, Ross came out of Portland’s Jefferson High School (where he played alongside former Kentucky forward Terrence Jones) and immediately earned good playing time with the Huskies. He had a solid freshman season, averaging 8.0 PPG and 2.8 RPG while playing behind Isaiah Thomas. Then came last season, and with Thomas gone and guard Scott Suggs lost due to a foot injury, Ross’ production and responsibilities grew. He averaged 16.4 PPG in an average of 31.1 MPG, but his reason to leave school early lies within the increased production on the boards. Ross bulked up over the summer and became much more active in a small forward type role, averaging 6.4 RPG.
Terrence Ross Blossomed Into A Top Ten Pick After A Terrific Sophomore Season (credit: Yardbarker)
  • Tony Wroten, Jr. – 16.0 PPG and 5.0 RPG were enough for Wroten to head to the NBA after just one season on Montlake. The freshman was a huge part of every game, and he knew how to perform the job that needed to be done night in and night out. Only seven points against Florida Atlantic? No problem, as he focused on dishing out four assists to the guys that were making shots. Only eight points against Utah? He made up for it on the other end of the court by getting two steals, which ended up being huge in just a four-point win. The point is, despite many of his freshman mistakes, Wroten was a do-everything type of player, and he will be sorely missed in 2012-13.
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Washington Week: Evaluating The Recent Past

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 9th, 2012

Despite winning the regular season Pac-12 title, a conference Coach of the Year award, and a run to the Final Four of the NIT, 2011-12 was considered a mediocre year by many in Seattle. That’s what happens when you make three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances coming into last season. Between the 2008-09 and the 2010-11 seasons, Washington posted a combined 76-30 record, with 11 of those 30 losses coming against teams ranked in the Top 25. Last season was a rollercoaster ride with too many “downs” for the selection committee’s liking, even if there were a lot of “ups” to go along with it.

Despite Being Named Pac-12 Coach of the Year In 2011-12, Lorenzo Romar and The Huskies Weren’t Dancing On Selection Sunday (credit: North and South of Royal Brougham)

The Huskies knew going into the season that there would be some early roadbumps after losing do-everything players Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Isaiah Thomas. Grouped with what turned out to be a season-ending foot injury for guard Scott Suggs that was suffered during preseason workouts, the Dawgs limped out of the gate. Washington struggled to beat a Florida Atlantic team (the Owls finished the year with an 11-19 mark) at home in their second game of the season, and a week later would lose by 13 points against Saint Louis. The hits would keep on coming, as it would go on to lose three of its next four games after the trip to Missouri. Midway through that stretch, Washington announced that Suggs would redshirt the 2011-12 season. And while this was obviously a good choice for the future, it felt at the time being as if the Huskies had already given up some hope of a successful season. The low point of the season came in the first two games of its five game mid-December home stand. After limping to a 87-80 win over UC Santa Barbara, the Huskies were blown out of their home arena by South Dakota State, suffering a 19-point loss to the Jackrabbits. And while SDSU would go on to have a great season, they were just three days removed from a 19-point defeat of their own — at the hands of vaunted North Dakota.

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Pac-12 Weekly Five: 07.06.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on July 6th, 2012

  1. We skipped last week because of a dearth of news as we head into the dead days of summer, so now we’ve got a couple week’s worth of catching up to do. The biggest news in the past two weeks was the NBA Draft, where more Pac-12 players heard their names called than conference teams did on Selection Sunday. Washington, who won the regular season title but was banished to the NIT, had two players – Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten, Jr. – get drafted, while Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham became just the 13th Beaver picked in the first round – the first since Corey Benjamin went with the second-to-last pick of the first round in 1998. The Huskies, meanwhile, have had much more recent success on draft night, with nine players drafted in the past eight years, six of those in the first round, a record that head coach Lorenzo Romar is making sure gets heard. With many elite recruits using college as a mere launching point toward NBA careers, Romar’s success at sending players to the NBA can only help his recruiting efforts.
  2. The Huskies also landed a new player this week when it was announced that seven-foot center Gilles Dierickx would be transferring into the program from Florida International. Dierickx (gee, thanks basketball gods – I only just got used to confidently spelling Krystkowiak) was a freshman last season with FIU, where he played just under 15 minutes a game and averaged 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds. He’s a face-up stretch four who will be eligible to play for UW beginning in 2013-14. But, as Ben Knibbe at the UW Dawg Pound points out, this leaves Romar with just three open scholarships for the 2013 class, a highly regarded recruiting class in which the Huskies are pursuing several five-star talents. As we’ve seen elsewhere, the fact that a program has a player under scholarship doesn’t preclude the possibility of a coach running off one or more players who are no longer necessary in order to make room for a more desirable prospect, but with the Huskies putting so much emphasis on the 2013 class, this is something of a head-scratcher.
  3. At this point in the summer, no news is generally good news for most collegiate programs. It means that nobody is getting into trouble with the law, nobody’s getting injured while working on their game, and nobody’s making a late decision to transfer. About the only really exciting news for a program at this time of the year is the announcement of the upcoming schedule, something Utah did last week. And, wow, is it ever underwhelming. The first three home games are an exhibition against something called Simon Fraser, then the season opener against Division III Willamette, followed by a match-up with Sacramento State. Now, to be fair, SSU was actually ranked higher than the Utes in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings last season (#292, compared to UU’s #303). The next three home games are part of a four-team round robin event on the Utah campus over Thanksgiving weekend, when the Utes will play Central Michigan, Idaho State and Wright State. Elsewhere in the non-conference schedule are games against Evergreen State of the NAIA and Cal State Northridge. There’s also a home-and-home series with SMU, a visit from Boise State, a trip to Texas State, and their renewal of their annual rivalry with BYU at the Cougars’ Provo campus. In other words, the Utes should be ready to dial up significantly more wins than the three non-conference wins they posted last year, while the ever-important RPI number should still remain in the gutter. Also of note, the Utes also finalized their plans for their trip to Brazil this summer, where they will play five games against Brazilian teams over the course of their 12-day trip.
  4. Another thing to keep an eye on as the summer progresses is landing spots for Pac-12 players who weren’t drafted by the NBA. For instance, former Colorado point guard Nate Tomlinson is heading back home to Australia to play professionally for the Melbourne Tigers. And he’s even trying to do a little recruiting of his own, trying to get former teammate Austin Dufault to follow him along, although he is also considering Europe and China. Meanwhile, Carlon Brown hasn’t yet given up on his NBA dreams despite going undrafted. The 6’5” wing is hoping to catch on with a summer league team and may need to go the D-League route. Elsewhere, Washington State forward Abe Lodwick will be playing professionally in Germany, while Arizona’s Kyle Fogg and Brendon Lavender both still harbor dreams of NBA careers, with Fogg set to play for Houston’s summer league team and Lavender putting on an Atlanta Hawk jersey for the summer.
  5. Lastly, we’ve got a couple of previews to point you to. First, we did so a few weeks back, but the always-excellent Doug Haller at The Arizona Republic last week broke down the returnees for the Arizona State team. And then there’s Dick Vitale, who gives his thoughts on the Pac-12, eyeing UCLA and Arizona as the clear favorites, while pointing to Stanford as the dark horse and predicting an improved conference from top to bottom.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Terrence Ross

Posted by AMurawa on June 6th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Terrence Ross

School: Washington

Height/Weight: 6’7”, 200 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Terrence Ross, Washington

Terrence Ross Can Be Spectacular(Getty Images)

Overview: At times in Terrence Ross’ sophomore season in Seattle, he was not only the best player on the floor, but clearly the best player in the Pac-12 and on the short list of best shooting guards in the country. Unfortunately for the Huskies, while Ross was fairly consistent the whole season long (he scored in double figures in 32 of his team’s 35 games), there were times when Ross was all too willing to just coast along, disappearing in losses that likely doomed the Huskies to the NIT. For every game like his 26-point second half against Washington State, there was a head scratcher like his six-point performance on just four field goal attempts in a home loss to South Dakota State. Still, he clearly made significant strides in his second season with the Huskies. After struggling to get minutes at a crowded wing spot as a freshman, Ross was second on the team in minutes as a sophomore and his sparkling offensive efficiency numbers dipped only slightly in his increased role. His offensive game is built around a beautiful jump shot, but he’s got the defensive mettle to match his silky smooth offensive game. With good size at the wing, a good frame and the athleticism to guard the two or the three at the next level, Ross looks for all the world to be a guy with a long future in the NBA ahead of him.

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Who’s Got Next? Muhammad & Noel Commit, Updates On Elite Recruits…

Posted by Josh Paunil on April 12th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Lead Story: Top Recruit In the Country Chooses Kentucky

Noel's Commitment Gives UK the Number One Recruiting Class. (Sports Illustrated)

Noel’s Commitment Gives Wildcats Top Recruiting Class. Class of 2012 center Nerlens Noel, the best player in the high school ranks, committed to Kentucky yesterday over Georgetown and Syracuse. Noel joins shooting guard Archie Goodwin, small forward Alex Poythress and center Willie Cauley-Stein to give head coach John Calipari the best recruiting class in the country again. Goodwin and Poythress are both top-15 guys whereas Cauley-Stein is a top-50 recruit. Noel, a 6’11″, 216-pound big man, is the only person on this planet capable of filling Anthony Davis’ shoes at Kentucky and will provide an even better defensive presence and a great target in transition. The Massachusetts native is an excellent finisher and has good explosiveness and athleticism all over the court. He also has done a great job developing his offensive game and has shown an improved 15-foot jumper as well as better interior scoring moves. His rate of development is an extremely good sign for Kentucky fans since he’s already very talented. The good news for Wildcat fans doesn’t stop there since Coach Cal isn’t done yet in the Class of 2012. They’re still after power forward Anthony Bennett, a top-10 recruit, and have a very realistic shot at landing him too. The addition of Bennett would put this Kentucky recruiting class in the conversation of one of the greatest recruiting classes of all-time.

What They’re Saying

  • Anthony Bennett on how he would fit in at Kentucky: “I can see myself fitting in [with] all schools but Kentucky, they produce great players. Coach Cal produces them to the league and makes them better and also they win national championships on top of that so it’s a great fit.” Read the rest of this entry »
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Washington: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by Connor Pelton on April 9th, 2012

Over the course of the next two weeks, the Pac-12 Microsite will break down each team’s season: what went well, what didn’t, and a look ahead at the future. Today’s subject: Washington.

What Went Wrong

Going into the year, a major question facing Washington was how quickly it would gel after losing its top three players from the 2010-11 season. That proved to be a big challenge as the Huskies started the season 5-5, their worst start since the 2003-04 campaign. While four of those defeats were to NCAA Tournament teams, there was no doubt about it; the Dawgs were playing bad basketball. However, once December came to an end and January arrived, there was really nothing to complain about in Seattle. Washington went on to win 16 of its next 19 after the poor start, with two of the three losses coming to NCAA Tournament teams. That stretch took them into the final game of the regular season, a road game against UCLA, meaning that the Huskies had at least two games to play before Selection Sunday. They needed to win just one to cement their spot in the Dance. Instead they fell to the Bruins and returned to Los Angeles five days later only to lose in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals against Oregon State. Those two losses ended their hopes of an NCAA berth, and the Dawgs were then relegated to the NIT.

A lot went right Lorenzo Romar's Huskies this season, but a bad start and a poor finish would eventually doom Washington's NCAA dreams. (credit: Geoffrey McAllister)

What Went Right

A main goal for coach Lorenzo Romar was to identify a new leader after the departure of guard Isaiah Thomas. They ended up finding two in Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross. Both would be named first team all-Pac-12, with Wroten averaging 16.7 PPG and Ross finishing with 15.3 PPG. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 04.05.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on April 5th, 2012

  1. Lorenzo Romar met with local media on Wednesday and had a ton of news as Washington heads to the offseason. While the early entries of Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross to the NBA are by now old news, it is newsworthy that freshman point guard Andrew Andrews underwent hip surgery and junior center Aziz N’Diaye is scheduled for wrist surgery, although neither issue is serious enough to impact their availability for next season. Romar also noted that although the Huskies have yet to sign any new recruits for next season, he expects to land two or three new players. Mark McLaughlin, a recruit from Tacoma Community College, verbally committed to the program but has yet to sign a letter of intent. And, among other things, Romar said an offseason focus would be on improving perimeter defense and finding an inside scoring presence. That last goal does not have an immediately obvious answer, although guys like Shawn Kemp Jr., Jernard Jarreau and Martin Breunig will all get a chance.
  2. When Trent Lockett announced his decision to transfer from Arizona State, he cited his desire to be closer to his mother who is fighting cancer at her home in Minnesota. So, while schools like Iowa State, Minnesota and Wisconsin all made perfect sense as possible landing grounds, the news that Gonzaga is somehow in the conversation comes as a bit of a shock. Still, Iowa State appears to be the leader for Lockett’s services, but the graduating senior must find a school that offers a graduate program that ASU does not in order for Lockett to be eligible to play next season.
  3. It’s no secret to anyone that’s read this spot this season, but Shabazz Muhammad is more or less a must-get for UCLA. If Muhammad goes to Westwood, it means Ben Howland has landed an elite recruiting class and it means the Bruins may even have a shot to land power forward Tony Parker as well. If Muhammad chooses Kentucky, it reinforces the idea that John Calipari and the Wildcats are the place to be for potential one-and-doners and it likely slams the door on the potential for Parker in blue and gold. Sure, the Bruins will still have a nice little recruiting class with Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, but with Muhammad in tow, the Bruins are possibly the Pac-12 favorite and a force again on the national stage. My gut feeling? Muhammad will be wearing a blue and gold hat on April 10.
  4. A day after Muhammad’s decision will be announced on ESPNU, Tony Parker will announce his decision, with UCLA also among the favorites. On Wednesday, the Memphis Roar reported that Parker’s father had said that his son had cut his list of potential schools to UCLA, Duke and Memphis, but later in the day he retracted that statement, noting that his son would not be trimming his list until the April 8. Still, for the three schools on the supposed short list, this should be seen as good news, while the others – Kansas, Ohio State and Georgia – should probably start making other plans. And, if Brooks Hansen – the author of the piece – is to be believed, the Bruins are the leader in the clubhouse for Parker’s services.
  5. Arizona would certainly have something to say about the idea that the Bruins would be the Pac-12 favorite with the addition of Muhammad. After all, as of right now, the Wildcats have the best incoming recruiting class in the country. And, with the proliference of all the silly 2012-13 preseason rankings that have come out in recent days, it is interesting to see UA, presently sans a set-in-stone answer at the point guard, showing up near the top of many lists. Andy Katz, for instance, has the Wildcats at #12, but two writers at the Daily Wildcat have differing thoughts on such a lofty ranking. One thinks the love is deserved, even if Josiah Turner never wears an Arizona uniform again, while the other prefers to see the team prove it before giving them such praise.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 04.04.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on April 4th, 2012

  1. With the college basketball now, sadly, in the books, things are about to slow down here just a bit. But, we’re still going to keep you up to date on the Pac-12 as the interminable offseason rolls on. While we may not have Morning Fives on a regular basis, we will crank them out from time to time when we have Pac-12 hoops related content. Beginning this afternoon, we will begin posting report cards for each conference teams, and throughout the summer we’ll keep you posted on what these teams will look like in the future. And, we will hopefully toss in some fun little things from time to time as well.
  2. The most important Pac-12 news of the last couple days is Tony Wroten’s decision to forgo his final three seasons of collegiate eligibility and enter the NBA Draft; he’ll hire an agent, precluding any chance of a change of heart. Coupled with the graduation of senior Darnell Gant and the previous decision of Terrence Ross to go pro, Washington will lose a shade over 52% of their scoring from this year’s team. Still, Lorenzo Romar will get senior guard Scott Suggs back from a redshirt season due to injury, while redshirt freshman point guard Andrew Andrews, who sat out last season year due to the combination of Wroten and Abdul Gaddy already locked in at the point, should be ready to make an immediate impact. As for Wroten, projections on his draft status show him currently a late first round pick, but he’ll need to impress between now and the June draft in order to secure first round status and the guaranteed contract that goes with it.
  3. Utah fans got news on Wednesday of another outgoing defection, as it was announced that freshman forward George Matthews would be transferring out of the program, making him the fifth player to transfer out since the end of the season. Matthews was the most highly regarded of last year’s six-man recruiting class, but he struggled with injuries in the offseason and was never truly healthy this season. Still, this is not exactly a blow to Utah’s plans. They needed to cull the flock a bit in order to make room for next year’s incoming recruits, and, really, this roster needed to be remade in a bad way. Part of that remake is the addition of 5’9” point guard Brandon Taylor who’ll join the team next year as a freshman and have a chance to compete for starters’ minutes from day one.
  4. While here on the second day of the offseason, it still seems quite a long way away, little by little we’re hearing about games being scheduled for next year. On Wednesday word filtered down that UCLA would be playing San Diego State in the Wooden Classic on December 1. While this is not official yet, it marks a couple of interesting occasions. First, and perhaps foremost, it represents the return of the Wooden Classic to a weekend non-conference game for UCLA early in December, rather than the thrown-together Thursday night conference matchup with Arizona that took place last year. Hopefully there will be another interesting game of some sort on the same card as the SDSU/UCLA game and the event to honor one of college basketball’s most enduring icons will be on safe footing against. Secondly, it also marks the first time these two teams will have met in the Steve Fisher era with the Aztecs and the first time since 1991. With SDSU welcoming in some high profile transfers and UCLA potentially sporting one of the nation’s best recruiting classes, this could be a game to watch in next year’s non-conference slate.
  5. Lastly, on Monday the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced their 2012 inductees, and a couple of Pac-12 players were on the list – UCLA’s Jamaal Wilkes and Reggie Miller. While both are probably more well known for the exploits at the professional level, each excelled with the Bruins. Wilkes won two championships under John Wooden (‘72 and ‘73) and was twice a first-team All-American (’73 and ’74), averaging 15 points and 7.4 rebounds per game over his three-year career in Westwood. Miller certainly didn’t have anywhere near the team success that Wilkes did with the Bruins (although he did lead UCLA to the first-ever Pac-10 conference tournament title in his senior year), but was a spectacular talent, averaging almost 24 points per game over his final two seasons.
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