Pac-12 Basketball Season Preview

Story posted November 25, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Austin Groft

The Pac-12 has three teams ranked inside the top-25 preseason rankings. Last year, Oregon was the only team to finish inside the top-25. The Pac-12 is on the rise with many talented players returning and some star freshman entering this conference.

This will be another interesting year in the Pac-12. There doesn’t seem to be a team that stands out from the rest. Any team in the top five of these rankings could easily take home the conference title.

1. Oregon Ducks

It might be hard to believe that Oregon is at the top of this list after graduating Payton Pritchard. The Pac-12 player of the year, who started all four years of his career at Oregon and averaged over 20 points per game, will be missed.

Senior guard Chris Duarte and junior Will Richardson were both talented pieces in Oregon’s offense last year. When Pritchard was having an off game, Richardson and Duarte were there to step up. Oregon also has multiple transfers, LJ Figueroa the most notable after leading St. Johns in scoring last season.

2. Arizona State Sun Devils

How can you not put Arizona State in the top three with scoring sensation Remy Martin returning to the conference? Martin Averaged 19.1 points per game alongside Alonzo Verge who averaged about 14 points per game. This is one of the best backcourts in the conference and will be difficult to stop.

Arizona State is adding two talented freshmen to the roster in Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley, Marvin Bagley’s brother. Christopher and Bagley are both wing players so it will be interesting to see how they fit with Martin and Verge who are also guards.

3. USC Trojans

This might be too high for USC, but the Trojans were able to bring in Evan Mobley, the third overall player in high school last year. This year is a roster remake for USC, but Mobley will lead this team alongside his brother Isaiah Mobley, who was also a five-star recruit.

4. UCLA Bruins

UCLA was able to maintain a similar roster from last year after losing Prince Ali. The Bruins return Chris Smith who was the Pac-12’s most improved player last season. They added Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang and four-star recruit Jaylen Clark, who will contribute to their already deep roster.

5. Stanford Cardinal

The loss of Tyrell Terry, one of the best shooters in college basketball last year, will be devastating to Stanford. However, the Cardinals return four starters and five-star recruit Ziaire Williams who will fill the shoes of Terry. Stanford is a sneaky team in the Pac-12 and could easily win the conference this year.

6. Arizona Wildcats

Nico Mannion, Josh Green and Zeke Nnaji all entered the NBA Draft after one season with the Wildcats. The Wildcats graduated three seniors as well. They are bringing in five young freshmen and some transfers, Terrell Brown (SeattleU), James Akinjo (Georgetown) and Jordan Brown (Nevada) who will all most likely start.

7. Colorado Buffaloes

Led by Tyler Bey last season, Colorado was on pace to contend for the Pac-12 last season. The Buffaloes hit a wall near the end of the season losing their last three games to mediocre teams. They’ll have to rely on senior McKinley Wright to lead the team this season.

8. Utah Utes

Utah returns all of their players except Both Gach, who entered the transfer portal. Timmy Allen will be another elite guard to watch in the Pac-12 this year. Utah lacks defense and it hurts even more with the loss of Gach.

9. Washington Huskies

The Huskies are going to have to rely on young talent this year. Transfer from Kentucky Quade Green will be eligible to play this season. He will lead this team since Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels both departed to the NBA.

10. California Golden Bears

This is a rebuild season for the Golden Bears after graduating two of their top three leading scorers from last season. Matt Bradley returns averaging 17.5 points per game.

11. Washington State Cougars

The Cougars lost star guard CJ Elleby to the draft. Thankfully for the Cougars, coach Kyle Smith has done a great job recruiting and the Cougars will be conference contenders in a few years.

12. Oregon State Beavers

Oregon State is at the bottom of the list after losing Tres Tinkle, Oregon State’s all-time leading scorer. Evan Thompson will lead this team returning for his senior year.

 

Austin Groft is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email him at atg5271@psu.edu.

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