It was far from the Pac-12’s finest season as the conference sent three teams to the NCAA Tournament, two of which were in the First Four, and none of those three won a single game in the big dance. Arizona figures to be in a bit of a rut with its recruiting class being decimated by the FBI reports, but schools like Oregon, UCLA, and Washington appear to be on the come up.
After making the 2017 Final Four, Oregon lost nearly every major contributor from that team aside from Peyton Pritchard and it resulted in a trip to the NIT. Troy Brown has 11.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.6 steals per game as the programs first one and done freshman.
The attention now turns to Bol Bol, who was the number four prospect in ESPN’s top 100 for the 2018 recruiting class and he is expected to lead the Ducks back towards the top of the conference standings. He is a 7-foot-3 center with a 7-foot-8 wingspan with tremendous athleticism and has the range and touch to shoot 3s.
He did shoot just 5-for-23 from long range in high school last year, but if he can even be a 35 or 36 percent shooter that takes two three-point shots per game, it will make him nearly unguardable. He is also incredibly strong and with his leaping ability will be a monster on the glass that will rack up rebounds and blocks.
He has the benefit of having an experienced point guard in Pritchard running the offense. As a sophomore he took big steps forward as he led the Ducks with 14.5 points and 4.8 assists per game to go with 1.4 steals and 3.8 rebounds per game. He made 41.3 percent of the 5.7 3s per game he attempted, but will not have an experienced guard next to him like last season.
Elijah Brown was a big boost to Pritchard in his one year in Eugene as he shot 93 percent at the free throw line, which was third in the country among all qualified players and posted 13.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. He launched seven 3-pointers per game, hitting 36.4 percent of them, as nobody outside of Pritchard had a higher percentage.
The team must also fill the void left by graduate transfer MiKyle McIntosh, who started every game last season and racked up 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He and fellow versatile big man 6-foot-8 Paul White, combined to take 5.6 triples per game and converted 35.4 percent of them.
White is back as a redshirt senior after he shot 83.7 percent at the free throw line and averaged 9.4 points and 3.5, rebounds per game while making 24 starts. He needs to be a bit less reckless this season as he was 47th in the country in fouls per game while McIntosh was 72nd.
Though Bol Bol stole all the headlines for what is one of the nation's best incoming recruiting classes, the team had two other players within ESPN's top 60 that are entering the program. Center Francis Okoro was rated by ESPN as the No. 56 prospect in the class. He was actually originally expected to be a part of the 2019 recruiting class, but graduated high school early. He is able to defend a variety of different types of post players and is solid with his back to the basket.
The team also adds a versatile 6-foot-8 wing in Louis King, who was rated by ESPN as the No. 11 prospect in the 2018 class. King has a wingspan over 7-foot-0 and is going to play a big role in Dana Altman’s defense while being both a good ball handler and jump shooter. He doesn’t have the best post moves for a guy his size, but is a guy that should help the team in a variety of ways.
To cap off the Ducks’ outstanding recruiting class, 6-foot-5 guard Will Richardson also enters the program after he was rated by ESPN as the nation’s No. 39 prospect. He is a guy that can run the point if needed and is good on the glass while still being a relatively sharp outside shooter. He is also good about knowing when to pass and when to drive to the basket when on offense.
Texas A&M Corpus Christi graduate transfer Ehab Amin should also see significant minutes in the backcourt. He missed the 2017-18 season due to injury, but recorded 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and a nation-high 3.4 steals per game the year before as a junior. He made just 28.9 percent of his 3s as a junior, but hit at a 36.8 percent clip the season prior.
The team’s main returning true big man from last season is 6-foot-9 Kenny Wooten, who was 15th in the country in blocks per game as a freshman. He started in just 10 of the 36 appearances he made, averaging 6.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in 19.8 minutes per game. He also shot 68.1 percent from the field, taking 3.9 shots per game. With Wooten back as well as all the other big men being on the roster, Miles Norris, who was No. 78 on ESPN’s top 100 prospects list for 2018, will likely be relegated to the bench.
Oregon has all the goods to not just win the Pac-12, but be a Final Four sleeper. If Bol Bol lives up to the hype, this team has more than enough weapons with Pritchard, Amin, and King to be lethal when not being the guy defenses key in on. This team really does not have a true weakness other than guys on the team perhaps lacking discipline and fouling too much and being a bit careless with the basketball.
Arizona won the conference last year, but that rotation has been gutted and there just are not the big time recruits that were expected to fill in the voids. The team went 14-4 in conference and 27-8 overall, and with being a four seed in the big dance and losing to Buffalo in the round of 64, the season was a flop for the Wildcats.
The team does not return a player that averaged five points or more per game and lose Deandre Ayton, who posted 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game all while taking a three pointer per game as a 7-foot-1 physical big man. That output was good enough to make him the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The team’s top returning scorer is 6-foot-5 Dylan Smith, who tallied 4.3 points per game off the bench. With such a local of production back from a year ago, the addition of former Duke forward Chase Jeter is magnified greatly.
His two years in Durham were disappointing as he was rated by ESPN as the No. 14 recruit in the 2015 class and posted averages of 2.6 points, 1.1 blocks and 2.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore during the 2016-17 season. He also made only 16 appearances this season, but will likely start alongside Ira Lee.
The 6-foot-7, 235 pound sophomore was the No. 60 prospect in the 2017 class according the ESPN, but played just 10.2 minutes per game with 2.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. The team has another 6-foot-7 sophomore that needs to play big minutes this season in Emmanuel Akot.
He got four starts last season but was largely unproductive in his 10.4 minutes per game with 1.8 points per game. He did make 37.5 of the 24 3s he attempted last year though, and figures to start at the three position.
The team gets another big boost to the front court via the ACC in Pittsburgh graduate transfer Ryan Luther. The team went 5-5 with him in the Panthers lineup last season and 3-19 without him as he averaged 12.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.
Head coach Sean Miller also brings in a graduate transfer to aid the backcourt in Sanford’s Justin Coleman. He figures to run the point this season after he averaged 13.5 points, 6.6 assists, 1.2 steals, and 2.8 rebounds per game as he was 14th among all DI players in assists per game. He also shot 37 percent from 3-point range and 80.6 percent at the free throw line as he clearly enjoyed the step down in competition as he played his first two seasons at Alabama.
The team’s top incoming recruit is guard Brandon Williams, who was rated by ESPN as the No. 39 recruit in the 2018 class. He will likely be the team’s starting two guard as he is an excellent jump shooter that is a good passer, but sometimes is a bit too willing to shoot. He is also excellent at getting steals on the defensive end.
Six-foot-5 Devonaire Doutrive should also be immediately a big piece in the backcourt and was rated by ESPN as the No. 72 recruit in the 2018 class. He is perhaps a bit over-hyped on the glass as he will likely be primarily an offense weapon in the beginning. He needs to build some strength, but has a good mid-range jumper and is very willing to drive to the basket.
This is a team with some highly touted recruits, but has only a few veterans, all of which are transfers that either were not fits with other power five programs, or in Luther’s case, was a productive player on a piece of garbage team. Arizona has the pieces to be an NCAA Tournament team and perhaps even a top 20 team, but the sheer youth on this squad gives this team both a very high ceiling and a very low floor.
UCLA went 11-7 in conference and 23-11 last season in a year that was hijacked by the a shoplifting scandal in China to begin the season. The underachievement of its backcourt last year might actually help long term though as the Bruins return Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes, who were both in ESPN’s top 25 recruits for the 2017 class, and have a loaded incoming freshman class.
Aaron Holiday will be dearly missed from last season as he was the only reason the 2017-18 team made the field of 68. He did it all with averages of 20.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game while converting 42.9 percent of his 6.2 3s per game.
The team's other two players that shot over 40 percent from 3-point range were big men Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman, both of whom are gone. They took a combined 4.7 of them per game, hitting 40.9 percent of them while combining for 17 points, 1.3 steals, 2.2 blocks, and 3.8 assists per game. Goloman chipped in four rebounds per game while Welsh led the team with 10.8 per contest, which ranked 10th among DI players.
It helps that Jalen Hill and Cody Riley, the two players that were caught shoplifting with LiAngelo Ball, are back with the program. Riley was rated by ESPN as the No. 43 prospect of the 2017 class by ESPN and Hill No. 47. Both are more tradition big men that have strength, though Hill has better hops and defensive abilities and will likely see more minutes than Riley as a result. Riley has a bit more versatility on the floor and is developing his mid-range game.
The team also brings in 7-foot-1 Moses Brown, who was rated behind Bol Bol by ESPN as the second-best center in the 2018 recruiting class and the No. 15 freshman overall. Shareef O'Neal, the son of Shaquille O'Neal, also enter the program as he decomitted from Arizona in the wake of the college basketball FBI sting.
O'Neal was rated by ESPN as the No. 32 player in the 2018 class and is very good on the offensive end and is a similar player to Riley at 6-foot-9. He is becoming a solid stretch four and is athletic, though he needs to pick it up on the defensive end and the glass.
Brown may not have the strength you'd expect a player of his size to have, but he is excellent at pulling down rebounds and stretches the floor really well for somebody who is 7-foot-1. A comparison for him is Ethan Happ with better free throw shooting.
The team brings in a bit of a wild card in wing Jules Bernard, who ESPN rated as the No. 50 prospect in the 2018 class. He isn't an explosive athlete and struggles with his perimeter shooting, but finds ways to scores when he slashes to the bucket. He has improved his passing, but its still a work in progress and his lack of athleticism makes him a bit vulnerable on defense.
UCLA also welcomes 6-foot-4 David Singleton III into the program, who was the No. 96 rated 2018 prospect by ESPN. He is a gifted shooter and has good handles, but is a black hole in that he never looks to pass and plays little to no defense.
Though these freshmen are nice, they won't be starting while 6-foot-4 Prince Ali and 6-foot-10 big man Alex Olesinski will be. Olesinski played the most minutes of any non-starter during the 2017-18 season, and proved to be versatile as he shot 36.4 percent from 3-point range. He had 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while Ali notched 9.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
Ali made 22 starts as a sophomore and also boasted a 36 3-point shooting percentage. He will join 6-foot-8 Kris Wilkes in the starting lineup as Wilkes figures to play the three spot. He had a productive freshman year with 13.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He took the second-most 3s of anyone on the team making 35.2 percent of his 4.8 triples per game.
Hands will likely take over the point guard role after registering 9.9 points, four rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game as a freshman. He saw his production dip in the final 11 games of the season, as he scored over 10 points just once in that stretch while shooting 37 percent from the field. For the season he shot 43.1 percent from the floor and 37.4 percent from 3-point land.
The depth on this UCLA team is pretty tremendous, especially if 6-foot-9 combo guard Chris Smith can earn some minutes after he had 3.9 points per game off the bench as a freshman. UCLA does not have the talent to match up with Oregon, but seems to be in position to make the top 25 and be in a fight with Washington and Arizona for the number two slot in the conference pecking order.
Washington went 21-13 last season, which made this team one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2017-18 season. The team went 9-22 the season before with future number one pick Markelle Fultz on the roster and Lorenzo Roman running the program into the ground as coach.
Mike Hopkins took over the coaching duties last season after being Syracuse’s associate head coach and got this team heading in the right direction despite not having the guts he necessarily wanted to play a more Syracuse style of defense. With all of his key contributors from a year ago back as well as his selected freshmen and transfers, we should see a team that was 188th in points per game allowed and 271st in rebound rate really start to improve.
Jaylen Nowell led the team in scoring as a freshman last year, ringing up 16 points, four rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. The starting backcourt of he, David Crisp, and Matisse Thybulle essentially did the distributing by committee as Crisp led the team with 3.1 assists per game and Thybulle chipped in another 2.6. The rest of the team had just under 3.3 assists per game, as Washington was 329th in the country in assists per field goal made, which is an indicator of a lot of isolation basketball being played.
It helped that all of the team’s main outside shooters aside from Crisp all made at least 35 percent of their 3-point attempts. And though Crisp shot just 28.6 percent from the outside on 5.6 attempts per game, he contributed 11.6 points and 1.3 steals per game while leading the team in assists.
Thybulle turned out to be a massive producer for Hopkins as he not only made 36.5 percent of his 4.7 3s per game to average 11.2 points per outing, but also led the team in blocks per game with 1.4 and had three steals per game. The steals were fourth among all DI players as the Huskies were 15th in the country in total steals. Considering the team was 15-7 in games decided by 10 points or fewer, those live ball turnovers are likely a big reason why this team had a 12 win improvement from the 2016-17 campaign.
That whole backcourt is back along with starting 6-foot-8 forward Noah Dickerson, who led the team in rebounds with 8.4 to go with 15.5 points per game. He did foul a lot, ranking 56th among all DI players in fouls per game, but a lot of that is a result of him being on the floor in big spots with his 78.6 percent free throw shooting.
Naziah Carter also is back down low after the 6-foot-6 forward played a priority reserve role as a freshman with 5.1 points and shot 40.9 percent from 3-point range. He and Dominic Green made up one of the top reserve 3-point shooting tandems in the country as Green notched 5.4 points per game while converting 43.2 percent of his three triples per contest.
These two often subbed in for 6-foot-10 forward Sam Timmins, as the team mixed and matched with small ball and regular lineups. Timmins did a lot of fun protecting as he notched 4.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and a block per game. Hameir Wright, the No. 99 prospect from the 2017 recruiting class as ranked by ESPN, may receive additional minutes after he logged 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game off the bench a season ago.
Bryan Penn-Johnson, a rated four-star recruit by 247Sports, should give this team an addition rim protector. The 7-foot-0 freshman has a 7-foot-7 wingspan and a 245 pound frame and will be used for his defense. The team also adds fellow rated-four star freshman Jamal Bey into the fold.
Bey is a 6-foot-6 wing is not the best shooter, but doesn't seem to have a hot or cold spot and is strong on the defensive end. He is also much more willing to drive to the basket than most other wings. If 7-foot-4 Riley Sorn or 247Sports rated three-star guards Elijah Hardy or Nate Pryor can give this team anything, this team will rival UCLA in terms of depth.
With that said, UCLA and Arizona have more talent on its rosters. This is a team that needs to identify a true point guard, though this team now has an excellent stable of big men. This has the look of a fringe top 25 team, though they will likely be number four in the conference when it is all said and done.
USC went 12-6 in conference, which was second in the Pac-12 during the 2017-18 season, yet ended up going to the NIT with an overall mark of 24-12 when it was all said and done. Everything that could go wrong for this team did with late game bad luck, highlighted by Stanford hitting a half court heave at the buzzer to get a one point win, to De'Anthony Melton missing the whole season due to the FBI investigation.
The team is now without three of its four guys that had 10 or more points per game last season, which means 6-foot-10 Bennie Boatwright will have to be the team's leader. The versatile big man missed 13 games last season, but when he played, he put up averages of 13.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and two assists per game. He made 34.8 percent of the team-high 5.8 3s he put up and was a good counter to a more traditional big man in Nick Rakocevic.
The 6-foo-11 junior started 22 contests last season with 8.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He and Boatwright may be look ed to for more blocks with Chimezie Metu going pro after he led the team with 15.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game a season ago.
The team must also find a way to replace point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who was third among all DI players in assists per game as he averaged 12.8 points, 7.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and two steals per game. His defense was under-appreciated as his steals per game were tied for 33rd in the country among DI players.
Follow starting guard Elijah Stewart is also gone after these two combined to make 39.4 percent of their 8.8 3-pointers per game. Stewart poured in 11.7 points and three rebounds per game. He was also the team's best free throw shooter, making 84.4 percent of his attempts.
Elijah Weaver, the No. 37 recruit in ESPN's 2018 recruiting rankings, was expected to start day one at the point for the Trojans, but had ankle surgery August 30, which had a three month timetable. At 6-foot-5, he has the ability to play the one or two spot with wonderful court vision, sound defense, and a better than advertised mid-range jumper.
This leaves Derryck Thornton, who has been a massive disappointment both at USC and Duke, to run the point for however long he's put. The No. 13 prospect in the 2015 class as rated by ESPN, had 3.8 points and 1.2 assists per game as a sophomore reserve. Considering he also only shot 31.8 percent on 3-pointers and 36.3 percent from the floor, it makes the point guard position a bit of a mess early on.
This means fellow backcourt starter Jonah Matthews will have to have a good start to the season after he registered 9.3 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. He shot a team-best 42.3 percent from 3-point range, but his 60 percent at the free throw line leaves a lot to be desired.
The team will also look for a pair of 6-foot-7 wings to be a bit more prolific on offense in Jordan Usher and Shaqquan Aaron. The two combined for 9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game with Aaron being the better defender and Usher being a bigger contributor on offense.
Aaron shot just 36 percent at the free throw line and 32.8 percent from long range to Usher’s 40.9 percent 3-point shooting and 75 percent free throw make rate.
The team will look to 6-foot-8 freshman J'Raan Brooks, who was rated by ESPN as the No. 84 prospect in the 2018 class, to give this team some added help in the paint. He is not a guy that will shoot 3s, but can hit shots from about 12-15 feet out and should be a help on the glass.
This team also brings in wing Kevin Porter Jr., who was rated as the No. 40 prospect for the 2018 class by ESPN. Porter Jr. is a highlight reel dunker and one of the best athletes in the class, but has a tenancy to let his emotions get the best of him. When things are stable with him, he can defend and play at nearly any position, hits at a ridiculous clip from long distance, and can finish on contested drives. When he forces things though, things it leads to bad shots and reckless turnovers.
The team is hoping Porter Jr.’s freshman year is more productive than that of Chuck O’Bannon Jr., who was the No. 36 rated prospect in ESPN’s 2017 class rankings. He came in with a similar skill set to Porter Jr., minus the concerns of reckless play and a bit of a lower ceiling. He played in just 14 games, shooting 21.7 percent from the floor in 5.1 minutes per appearance.
USC has loads of untapped potential, but the question is, can it be unearthed? This team is littered with talented guards that have not lived up to a potential while Boatwright has been productive, but has missed a lot of games due to injury and suspension. If this team plays to its potential, this is the second-best team in the Pac-12 and could make the second week of the tournament. This team could also unleash a turd, continue to not play well, and be a team the struggles to get 18 wins. The most likely result is something in the middle for the Trojans.
Utah went 11-7 in conference last season and 23-12 overall, with the season ending in New York for the NIT Final Four. This team loses four of its top six scorers from last year and a lot of the low on the totem poll reserves that coach Larry Krystkowiak hoped to build around.
Guard Sedrick Barefield will be the leader in the backcourt as a senior after he pumped in averages of 12.3 points and 2.5 assists per game while making 84.7 percent of his free throws. He was also second on the team in 3-point attempts, making 35.4 percent of them for a Utes team that was 25th in the country in 3-point rate.
The team was just 219th in rebound rate last year while ranking 291st in pace of play quickness, which shows that this was a team that looked for 3s with not a lot of guys in the lineup with great offensive post moves. 6-foot-8 David Collette was the best player in that department, though he had just 4.5 rebounds to show for it as he notched 12.3 points per game with a 63.1 field goal shooting percentage.
His graduation means 6-foot-7 Donnie Tillman will likely go from the team's most used reserve to a starter. He had 7.8 points and 4.8 rebounds while beginning to extend his range as he took a three-pointer per game.
Tillman's importance is heightened with 6-foot-8 Tyler Rawson also out of eligibility after he did a number of things, filling out the stat sheet with 10.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. He led the team in rebounds and blocks per game all while making 77.4 percent of his free throws and 37.3 percent of his 4.8 3s per game.
Jayce Johnson, a 7-foot-0 junior, should also go from the bench into the starting lineup after he was second on the team with 5.4 rebounds to go with 5.5 points per game
The team bring in one transfer from another DI school, and its a big one in 7-foot-0 center Novak Topalovic, who comes over from Idaho State. He started every game the past two years for the Bengals, registering 10.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. He will either be the starting five or a heavily used reserve.
Starting wing Gabe Bealer and leading scorer and point guard Justin Bibbins are both gone as well, leaning the backcourt needs a total remodel. Bibbins shot 43.9 percent on 6.1 3s per game and made 87.4 percent of his free throws while leading the team in attempts on both fronts. He added team-highs 14.8 points, 4.7 assists, and 1.3 steals to go with three rebounds per game.
Bealer was also prolific from beyond the arc, making 41 percent of his 3-pointers while posting 5.9 points and two rebounds per game. This could put Parker Van Dyke in a position to start at the point as he had four points and 1.5 assists per game while getting 12 starts. He shot 30.9 percent from 3-point range.
The team's best player entering the program is JUCO transfer Charles Jones Jr, who was rated ninth among all JUCO transfers for the 2018 class by jucorecruiting.com. He was a two-time NJCAA All-American as he averaged 19.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. He made 45.5 percent of his 5.5 3-pointers per game. At 6-foot-2, he will either be the team's sixth man or start in a small ball lineup.
The team's top two incoming freshman about both 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7 wing type players that were rated as four-star recruits by 247Sports. Timmy Allen is a guy that can guard nearly everyone on the floor and is a tremendous passer for a 6-foot-6 combo player.that is not a great scorer, but is capable of scoring in a number of ways.
Both Gach is also a very good passer for his size and is similar to Allen, aside from being a bit slighter of frame at 195 pounds to Allen's 210. He is a guy that can guard a variety of guys and is a decent outside shooter that handles and passes well.
This team has a massive unknown in 7-foot-0 Brandon Morley, who has not played basketball since the 2014-15 season for Salt Lake Community college. If he can bring anything to the table and become a rotation player, it will give this team tremendous depth in the post.
With Kolbe Caldwell's transfer, Christian Popoola is the only other guard that played a double-digit amount of games last season. He had just 0.8 points and 0.8 rebounds in 5.8 minutes per appearance, but has a bit of upside as a reserve that can make hustle plays. The team is hoping redshirt freshman Vante Hendrix and true freshman Kevin Kremer can also be guys that can come off the bench and spell minutes in the backcourt. 247Sports rated three-star freshmen Naseem Gaskin will also be looked to for providing some 3-point shooting off the bench.
Utah brings in a tremendous JUCO transfer in Jones Jr., but this team has a backcourt without a true point guard an a frontcourt with size but not a lot of talent. If Krystkowiak gets this bunch into the top six in the Pac-12, it will be his best work as a coach to date. This has the look of a team that will be in the Pac-12's bottom three and will struggle to break .500 overall.
Stanford overcame a a 6-8 start that included losses to Eastern Washington, Portland State, and Long Beach State to finish third in the Pac-12 with an 11-7 mark in conference and an overall record of 19-16. Forward Michael Humphrey and guard Dorian Pickens were the only seniors on the roster last season, but Reid Travis bolting the program for Kentucky will change the outlook of this team.
The 6-foot-8 big man averaged 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He worked on his 3-pointer throughout the year as he hit at just a 29.5 clip last season, but it steadily improved as he shot 34.5 percent from deep the final 17 games of the season. Couple that with the 10 points and 7.3 rebounds per game of the team's top shot blocker Humphrey, it leaves the forward position for the Cardinal quite bare.
This means it will be sophomore Daejon Davis’ team after he was the team’s starting point guard as a freshman. He notched 10.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and team-beats 4.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He also made 40.3 percent of his 3s, though his four turnovers per game were the fourth most among all DI players.
Stanford committed the third-most turnovers of all DI teams, but offset that a bit by getting to the free throw line a lot. This team was 15th in the country in free throw attempts per field goal taken and took on average 5.5 more free throws per game than its opposition.
This team's season turned around with the return of Pickens the team went 4-7 without him from November to late December and were 15-9 with him. Pickens played fewer than 31 minutes in two of his 24 appearances, totaling 15.1 points, 3.8 rebounds while making 40.2 percent of his seven 3s per game. He was 86th in the country in made 3s per game.
Pickens, though very good from deep, was not the most efficient outside shooter at Stanford, as that was Oscar Da Silva. He led all qualified DI players in 3-point shooting percentage, making 55.8 percent of his attempts. He started in 11 of his 35 appearances, averaging 6.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Interestingly enough, he was just 63.6 percent from the free throw line, the worst of any player that attempted at least one free throw per game.
The team brings in a pair of ESPN rated four-star freshmen guards Cormac Ryan and Bryce Wills to give the rotation some depth. At 6-foot-6, Wills is a prototypical wing as he is a very good driver that has good vision, can guard a number of different players, and has good handles.Ryan was rated by ESPN as the No.65 recruit in the class and is a very good two-way player with 6-foot-5 size.He could stand to add some muscle, but his shot got much better in his final year plus in high school.
Speaking of freshmen, ESPN rated forward Jaiden Delaire the No. 79 prospect in the 2018 class that is able to take 3s and is versatile for being 6-foot-9. He is not a guy that will bang in the post, but should be a priority reserve thanks to his athletic abilities.
KZ Okpala will like start over him after he started 21 times last season with 10 points, 3.7 rebounds, and a steal per game. His game mirrors Delaire's well, though both will hope to shoot better from beyond the arc than Okpala did a season ago as he made just 22.6 percent of his attempts. He missed the first 13 games of the season and played his best basketball down the stretch, averaging 12.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.1 steals per game in his final seven games of the season.
Josh Sharma, a 7-foot-0 senior has a chance to also in line to see some extended minutes after he had 3.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 9.7 minutes per game.
The team saw backup point guard Robert Cartwright transfer in the offseason after he had 4.7 points and 2.3 assists per game off the bench, which could lead to more opportunities for Isaac White. He saw nine starts in 33 games last season, serving more as a scorer with 5.5 points per game while taking 3.4 3s per game, making 33.9 percent of them.
Stanford is a weird case in that this team has great depth, but will take a step back on the glass after being 23rd in rebound rate a season ago. Davis is a guy that can take over a game, but there is no way D Silva will shoot the way he did from distance in a larger sampling next season. The Cardinal will likely be in the .500 range and though pesky, in the bottom half of the Pac-12 standings.
It was a tale of two seasons for Arizona State as this was the last team at the DI level to lose with a 12-0 start, but was a First Four team in the NCAA Tournament The team went 8-10 in Pac-12 play and lost in the First Four to go 20-12 overall, losing six of its last seven contests.
The team loses its top three scorers due to graduation as this will be a team that might need to lean more on its frontcourt despite this team being 229th in rebounding rate last season. Forwards Romello White and Vitaliy Shibel are the two starters back from last season with Martin getting 24.3 minutes per game to Shibel's 10.4.
Martin had a team-high 7.1 rebounds to go with 10.5 points per game with Shibel contributing just 1.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. Six-foot-10 De’Quon Lake is this team’s best rim protector with 7.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game.
Coach Bobby Hurley May look to have Mickey Mitchell start in Shibel’s place as well after the 6-foot-7 forward got 11 starts in 24 total games after he missed the first semester of the 2017-18 after transferring from Ohio State. He had averages of 5.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and added a 35 percent 3-point shooting percentage.
As for the separated guard rotation, Remy Martin is the lone player in that group that saw meaningful minutes last season. He was the team’s sixth man, averaging 9.6 points, three rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per game.
Tra Holder And Shannon Evans were the heartbeat of the team last season. The two combined for 34.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 2.7 steals per game. The two also took a combined 13.8 3s per game, making 37 percent of them. Evans by himself took eight per game, which was 28th among all DI players.
The loss of Kodi Justice also stings after he had 12.7 points, 1.2 steals and 2.7 rebounds per game, his 38.1 3-point shooting percentage was the beat on the team and he took 6.3 per game, and even shot 60 percent inside the arc.
The team does have reinforcements on the way, including former Cleveland State guard Rob Edwards. As a sophomore for the Horizon League school, he piled up 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. He attempted 5.7 3s per game, making 35.4 percent of them.
The team also brings Canadian prospect that was rated for-stars by 247Sports in Luguentz Dort. He is an explosive player with a 6-foot-5, 225 pound frame that plays superb defense to make up for being a poor overall shooter. He is much more of a driver and has pretty good handles and vision to go with it.
The team also brings in former San Diego State forward Zylan Cheatham. He played 69 games, starting 48 of them with averages of 9.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. At 6-foot-8, he provides the ability to guard a variety of different positions, though he is not a guy with range, being a career 17.2 percent 3-point shooter.
Hurley's top incoming freshman from the US is also a forward in 6-foot-8 Taeshon Cherry. The No. 44 prospect on ESPN's class of 2018 list. He is a player that impresses with what he can do athletically. He has the bulk to be a solid power forward and the shooting range to play the three, a combo that will earn him loads of minutes.early.
Elias Valtonen, a 6-foot-7 native of Finland, is a prototypical wing with his 195 pound frame. He is not a guy that will pull in a lot of rebounds, but is a very good outside shooter that needs to improve defensively to go from a specialist to a guy that gets more run. With Kimani Lawrence, the No. 55 prospect from the 2017 class looking to build off a disappointing freshman year in which he had 3.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in 19 appearances, there will be tons of competition across the board with this squad.
Arizona State will be significantly better in the post than a season ago, but this team now has a lack of a backcourt. This is a team that will likely play much slower than its No. 45 pace of play quickness last year with a lot of passing into the post. This is a team that will either go to the NIT or sneak into the NCAA Tournament as the Sun Devils appear to be in the middle of the Pac-12 hierarchy.
Colorado had its issues on the road last season, as the team was 17-15 overall and 7-11 in conference, but won just one true roads game. The team loses a pair of seniors in George King and Dominique Collier, led the charge from downtown for coach Tad Boyle's team.
King had 12.9 points and led the team with 7.8 rebounds per game as a 6-foot-6 wing that shot 78.2 percent at the free throw line. He and Collier combined to shoot 9.3 triples, making 39.2 percent of them. Collier chipped in 7.5 points per game as he come off the bench in 22 of his 32 appearances, mostly serving as a designated shooter.
The one thing these departed guards did not do is compile steals, as Colorado was 331st in turnovers forced per opponents' possession and was 334th in steals per game. McKinley Wright IV as a freshman led the team in steals as well as assists and points per game, making him the cornerstone of this year's team.
He shot just 30.4 percent from beyond the arc, but averaged 14.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and a steal per game as the team's starting point guard. He was also a 77 percent free throw shooter, which partially offset his 2.9 turnovers per game as the team was 280th in the country in turnovers per possession on offense and was 266th in assists to turnover ratio.
Namon Wright started 13 games a season ago and will likely star full time this season. The 6-foot-5 senior shot 33.3 percent from distance with 9.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He will get some competition from JUCO transfer Shane Gatling for minutes, who has DI experience with beginning his career in the MAAC at Niagara.
In one season with Niagara, he averaged 4.7 points with a 34.1 3-point shooting percentage as a scoring specialist. Last season he had 16.6 points, 2.9 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. It led to him being the No. 23 ranked JUCO transfer of 2018 by jucorecruiting.com.
Tyler Bey saw 21 starts as a freshman as a 6-foot-7 player at the four with averages of 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Lucas Siewert was typically the first forward off the bench, spelling minutes for him with his 6-foot-10 size. He was actually a part of the team's better shooting unit as he hit 44.8 percent of his 2.2 3s per game. His 3-point shooting percentage rated 57th among DI players, as he averaged 6.8 points and three rebounds per game.
Dallas Walton served as the team' starting center with his 7-foot-0 size, averaging 5.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, and a team high 1.1 blocks per game. He also might try a few more 3s this season after he converted 5 of his 13 deep shots.
Boyle needs to get more out of Deleon Brown and D'Shawn Schwartz than last season. Schwartz was rated the No. 75 prospect of the 2017 recruiting class by ESPN, but had just 3.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game as a freshman. Brown had five points per game and made 38.5 percent of his 3s while playing in 23 games a season ago, going 4-5 when he was out of the fold.
The team is hoping Daylen Kountz, a rated three-star recruit by 247Sports, can be a guy that can be used as a sharp shooter off the bench. Other than Kountz, who isn't highly rated himself, this crop of freshman are mostly project players that won't see the floor this season. Colorado was rated by 247Sports as having the No. 11 recruiting class in the conference for 2018, with only Washington State having a lesser class.
Wright IV is a special player, but this team's inability to get turnovers and the team losing its top two 3-point shooters in volume hurts. Add to it that King led the team in rebounding and this team brings in nobody to replace that, this looks like a team that will be in the Pac-12's bottom three and below .500.
Oregon State won seven times as many games in conference during the 2017-18 season as the year before, going 7-11 in the Pac-12 and 16-16 overall. The scoring distribution last season was top have with nobody outside of the team's top five scorers registering over three points per game, but the good news is that none of those players were seniors.
Tres Tinkle is the do it all star of this team. leading the team in three categories with 17.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game while also getting 1.4 steals per game. He's 6-foot-8 and shot 84 percent at the free throw line and 32.7 percent on 4.6 3s per game.
Guard Stephen Thompson Jr. essentially shared the ball distribution duties with Tinkle and his brother, Ethan Thompson, as starting point guard JaQuori McLaughlin left the program after six games. He led the team with 5.8 3-point attempts per game, making 34.8 percent of them to go with 15.8 points,3.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and a team-best 1.7 steals per game.
His brother Ethan started the the backcourt with him, netting 9.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He made 33.3 percent of his 3-point shots, a theme for a team that was 282nd in the country in percentage on shots from beyond the arc. This was for a team that did not take a lot of outside shots with DI’s No. 293 3-point rate and was 309th in made triples per game.
Drew Eubanks is the line forward that was consistently in the starting lineup last season, as he gave the team 13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and a team-high 1.7 blocks per game. Sophomore Alfred Hollins will be taking his starting frontcourt spot with Eubanks turning pro after Hollins started seven times in his 31 appearances with 5.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game. He brings a stretch element as a 6-foot-6 combo player, as he made 35.9 percent of his 3s.
It was Seth Berger that started instead of Hollins a year ago. He is out of eligibility after the 6-foot-7 graduate transfer gave the team three points and 2.3 rebounds in a similar amount of minutes per contest, making 20 starts.
Gligorij Rakocevic and Zach Reichle are the only other player back from last season that saw meaningful minutes with Kendel Manuel transferring after he shot a team-best 37.8 percent from 3-point range, but had just 2.6 points per game. The 6-foot-11 senior Rakocevic had 2.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, but figures to start with Eubanks' departure.
Reichie saw 8.7 minutes per game off the bench as a freshman, accumulating 1.7 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-5 hybrid player made just 30.8 percent of shots, but was a 34.3 percent 3-point shooter.
The team needs more depth than the rotation they had a year ago, especially with Stephen Thompson Jr. playing 36.6 minutes per game, which was 30th among all DI players and Tinkle was not far behind at No. 38. The problem is, this freshman class my not deliver it as the team brings in five players, but all five were rated by 247Sports as three-star prospects. The Beavers' recruiting class was rated 10th in the Pac-12 by the website, which is rare for the a power five team that brings in five recruits which shows the low level of prospects this team is bringing in.
The prospect in the best position to see big time minutes is center Jack Wilson, who is 7-foot-0. He did not play as a high school senior due to a back injury so coach Wayne Tinkle is pinning his hopes on getting a steal in a rim protector the can grab easy rebounds. The team also has 6-foot-11 Warren Washington, who has some good footwork down low and should be serviceable on the defensive glass.
As for the reserves in the guard stable 6-foot-3 Jordan Campbell is a guy that had ridiculous averages that included 29 points per game against low level competition in high school in California. The team also brings in Antione Vernon, but at 6-foot-0 and not being a great shooter makes him likely the number four option to distribute on the team.
Oregon State had 10 of its 11 defeats in Pac-12 play come back 10 or fewer points, and the only one that fell on 10 was an overtime loss at home against Arizona. A lot of this could be due to the team being so top heavy and running out of gas. This team has talent, but all the talent is thanks to sons of coaches wanting to play for their fathers. The talent disparity between Tinkle and the Thompson’s and the rest of this team is massive, which should leave the Beavers around .500 overall and around eighth in the Pac-12.
Washington State got off to a very promising start last season with wins over St. Mary’s and San Diego State to win the Wooden Legacy Tournament. From there Washington State went back to being Washington State, going 4-14 in PAC-12 play and 12-19 overall.
This team focused on shooting 3s and absolutely nothing else last season as the team was one of five DI schools to attempt more 3s than shots inside the arc. While the Cougars percentage was 53rd in the country, this team did not get back on defense, ranking 313th in defensive efficiency. They also did not get to the line due to launching tons of triples, ranking 348th in total free throw attempts.
The guy that led the charge for coach Ernie Kent’s group was 6-foot-7 forward Robert Franks, who had 17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and a block per game as a do it all weapon. He also hit 40.5 percent of the 5.4 3s per game he popped and shot 85.4 percent at the free throw line.
He is the team's top returning rebounder with Drick Bernstein out of eligibility after he notched 6.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game as the only of the team's top eight scorers that was not a 3-point shooter.
The hope is that JUCO transfer Isaiah Wade can bring some help to this team, who stands 6-foot-7 averaged 12.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game at the lower level. He and Arinze Chidom, who is 6-foot-9, will serve as the team's forwards as the redshirt sophomore had 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. The team also has Jeff Pollard, who had 3.6 points and 1.7 rebounds off the pine in his sophomore season.
Viont'e Daniels will be asked to do more in the backcourt after starting point guard Malachi Flynn left Pullman in the offseason. He had 15.8 points and team highs 4.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game, though he made just 33.8 percent of his 7.4 3s per game, which was 56th among DI players. His 84.6 free throw shooting percentage helped offset some of the reckless 3s he took.
Davis was 42nd among qualified players in the country in 3-point shooting percentage, making 45.5 percent of his five 3-point attempts per game. He had nine points, 2.3 rebounds, and two assists per game with Carter Skaggs also showing himself to be a good outside shooting option.
Skaggs made 11 starts in 31 appearances last season and took 5.5 of his 6.5 shots per game from beyond the arc, converting 40.4 percent of them while also shooting 88.9 percent at the free throw line. He had 8.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game He will need to do a bit more passing this season with Milan Acquaah transferring in the offseason.
The departed guard had 4.9 points and 1.9 assists per game in 30 games, nine of which were starts. Kwinton Hinson, who also saw nine starts in what was mostly a reserve guard role, also left in the offseason after he had 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Both had two fouls in under 14 minutes per game and were poor shooters. Hinson made 32.7 percent of his 3s and 45 percent of his free throws while his teammate made 54 percent of his free throws and 26.3 percent of his triples.
Kent is hoping Ahmed Ali, the No. 55 rated JUCO transfer by jucorecruiting.com can help replace Flynn at the point. He averaged 17.9 points and 4.7 assists per game in the NJCAA last season while making 40.1 percent of his 3s.
Fellow JUCO transfer Jervae Robinson will also play some point after he had 12.5 points and 4.3 assists with a 3.4 assist to turnover ratio in the lower rung. He shot 39.8 percent from long range and has a bit more size than Ali at 6-foot-2 compared to 5-foot-11.
Six-foot-6 CJ Elleby is the only rated freshman entering the fold, getting a three-star rating by 247Sports. He is a bit thin at 185 pounds, but is a guy that can score in the post and rebound in a reserve role.
The Cougars look like the worst team in the Pac-12 and destined for a seventh straight season of at least 18 losses. Schools like North Dakota State are bringing in more talent that his program and every time it looks like the program is finally heading in the right direction, they take multiple steps back.
The Wyking Jones era got off to about as bad of a start as possible with the team going 8-24 overall and 2-16 in Pac-12 play. The team suffered losses to losses to UC-Riverside, DII Chaminade, Central Arkansas, and Portland State, with those last three all being beat downs of over 20 points.
A massive issue with this team was a lack of distribution, as Darius McNeill led the team in assists as he posted averages of 11.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. His 35.3 percent 3-point shooting percentage on 5.9 attempts per game led Cal. The team was just 349th among DI teams in 3-point shots made per game and 349th in percentage .
Don Coleman led the team in points per game while shooting 32.8 percent from the field and 24.3 percent from-point range. He was 41st among DI players in free throw attempts per game to hep a little bit as he posted 14.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game averages.
He also made 74.8 percent of those free throws, the best percentage of anyone that took over 14 free throws at Cal last season. The team was 303rd in the country in free throw shooting percentage as everyone other than Coleman combined to shoot just 64.8 percent at the stripe.
Coleman transferred in the offseason. which means sophomore Justice Sueing figures to be this team's most important offensive weapon. As a freshman, the 6-foot-7 wing led the team with 1.5 steals per game to go with 13.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He made 31.1 percent of his 4.2 3s per game, both those numbers were second on the team.
He may need to do more rim protecting with Kentucky transfer Marcus Lee and 7-foot-1 Kingsley Okoroh were both seniors last year. Lee led the team in rebounds with 7.2 to go with 11.4 points and 1.6 blocks per game while Okoroh had a team-best 2.1 blocks per game while chipping in 5.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per outing.
Lee made 56.3 percent of his shots while Okoroh knocked down just 40.5 percent of his with neither attempting a single 3-pointer.Another issue with Lee was ranking 12th in the country in fouls per game and with reserve big men Roman Davis and Grant Anticevich giving this team zero production, he had to play timid when he compiled fouls and fouled out nine times.
Davis and Anticevich both averaged between 7.4 and 8.2 minutes per game, combining to average 3.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Both attempted a few 3s and both shot 25 percent or worse from deep.
Reserve guards Deschon Winston and Nick Hamilton are also gone after combining for 3.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and an assist per game with both also shooting under 29 percent from downtown. This makes Matt Bradley, the and 6-foot-5 sophomore Juhwan Harris-Dyson incredibly important.
Harris-Dyson made 19 starts a year ago, notching 6.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game, all while not making a single 3-pointer. Bradley has good size at 210 pounds and will likely start instantly for this team. He can make outside shots with a hand in his face and scores in every way imaginable. He has a tendency to not go all out on defense and does not have good speed, but is has good footwork in the paint to go with everything else.
Jacobi Gordon is the team's other rated four-star freshman according to 247Sports. The team is hoping to have bought low on this 6-foot-7 as he did not play his senior year of high school due to an Achilles injury.
Guard Paris Austin is now eligible after sitting the 2017-18 season while transferring from Boise State. He made 32 appearances as a part-time starter as a sophomore during the 2016-17 season, as the 5-foot-11 newcomer had 12.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. He was a 76.4 percent free throw shooter but avoided shooting from the perimeter, making just 21.2 percent of his 33 3s.
The team did get a huge freshman in 7-foot-3 Connor Vanover, who has rated as a three-star prospect by 247Soprts. He was a massive force while playing at a low level of high school in Arkansas but when he he went to an elite school in Findlay Prep was not as productive.