By Zack Rosenblatt / Arizona Daily Star
Editor’s note: This article is part of the Star’s 2017-18 basketball guide, which runs in Sunday’s paper.
Coach: Sean Miller (340-113 overall, 220-66 at Arizona)
2016-17 record: 32-5 (16-2 Pac-12), Sweet 16
Key returners: G Allonzo Trier (17.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.7 apg), G/F Rawle Alkins (10.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.1 apg), C Dusan Ristic (10.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
Key losses: F Lauri Markkanen (15.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg), G Kadeem Allen (9.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.0 apg), G Kobi Simmons (8.7 ppg, 2.0 apg)
Key additions: C DeAndre Ayton, G Brandon Randolph, F Emmanuel Akot, F Ira Lee, G Dylan Smith
Key matchups: 12/9 vs. Alabama, 2/8 vs. UCLA, 2/10 vs. USC
Dark cloud: An FBI investigation has the potential to become a season-ruining distraction, and Alkins’ preseason foot injury doesn’t help matters. The Wildcats’ roster is filled with players who want the ball — especially Trier, Randolph and Ayton — so there’s always potential for chemistry issues.
Bright side: Miller has proven mostly capable of getting his team to focus in the face of controversy and distractions, and this might be his most talented roster yet. Ayton is a potential No. 1 NBA draft pick, and once Alkins returns, Arizona should have the depth, talent and versatility to rival any team in the nation.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Coach: Bobby Hurley (72-55 overall, 30-35 at ASU)
2016-17 record: 15-18 (7-11 Pac-12)
Key returners: G Tra Holder (16.2 ppg, 3.2 apg), G Shannon Evans II (15 ppg, 4.4 apg), G Kodi Justice (9.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
Key losses: G Torian Graham (18.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg), F Obinna Oleka (12.5 ppg, 9.9 rpg)
Key additions: G Remy Martin, F Kimani Lawrence, F Mickey Mitchell, F De’Quon Lake
Key matchups: 12/10 at Kansas, 12/30 at Arizona, 2/8 vs USC
Dark cloud: ASU hasn’t proven yet capable of competing for an NCAA Tournament bid since Hurley was hired. The Sun Devils lost their leading scorer in guard Torian Graham.
Bright side: Other than Graham, ASU didn’t lose much. Evans and Holder are two of the Pac-12’s best guards, and freshmen Martin and Lawrence were both four-star recruits. ASU is on track to finish in the top half of the conference standings this season.
Cal Golden Bears
Coach: Wyking Jones (0-0 overall, 0-0 at Cal)
2016-17 record: 21-13 (10-8 Pac-12), NIT first round
Key returners: C Kingsley Okoroh (4.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg), G Don Coleman (4.6 ppg), F Cole Welle (1.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg)
Key losses: G Jabari Bird (14.3 ppg), F Ivan Rabb (14 ppg, 10.5 rpg), G Charlie Moore (12.2 ppg, 3.5 apg), C Kameron Rooks (4.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg), G Sam Singer (4.5 ppg)
Key additions: F Marcus Lee, F Justice Sueing, G Juhwan Harris-Dyson, G Darius McNeill
Key matchups: 11/20 vs. Wichita State, 12/2 vs. Saint Mary’s, 2/18 vs. Stanford
Dark cloud: Oh boy. Cuonzo Martin bolted for Missouri, and Cal’s roster — and highly ranked recruiting class — fell apart. The Golden Bears lost their top five scorers from last season, and largely don’t have the firepower to replace them.
Bright side: Not much is known about Jones and what sort of coach he is, but some of the after effects of Martin’s recruiting efforts remain. Lee, a Kentucky transfer who sat out last season because of NCAA rules, could be a bright spot. Jones’ first recruiting class includes three four-star players, according to ESPN.
Coach: Tad Boyle (205-160, 149-95 at Colorado)
2016-17 record: 19-15 (8-10 Pac-12), NIT first round
Key returners: G George King (11.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg), G Dominique Collier (6 ppg, 1.6 apg), F Tory Miller-Stewart (5.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
Key losses: G Derrick White (18.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.4 apg), F Xavier Johnson (14.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg), F Wesley Gordon (6.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
Key additions: G Namon Wright, G/F D’Shawn Schwartz, G McKinley Wright, G Tyler Bey
Key matchups: 12/9 vs. Xavier, 1/27 at ASU, 3/3 at Utah
Dark cloud: Colorado lost White, one of the most underrated players in the nation last season and a top scorer in the Pac-12. The Buffs have a lot of production to replace, also losing big man Gordon and guard Josh Fortune.
Bright side: Boyle is one of the top coaches in the conference, and he has a few talented freshmen — including two four-star players in Schwartz and Battey. Wright, a Missouri transfer, could help speed up the rebuilding process.
Coach: Dana Altman (597-313, 187-70 at Oregon)
2016-17 record: 33-6, 16-2, NCAA Final Four
Key returners: G Payton Pritchard (7.4 ppg, 3.6 apg), F Roman Sorkin (3.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg), F Keith Smith (1.9 ppg, 1.0 rpg)
Key losses: G/F Dillon Brooks (16.1 ppg), G Tyler Dorsey (14.6 ppg), F Chris Boucher (11.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg), C Jordan Bell (10.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg), G Dylan Ennis (10.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
Key additions: F Troy Brown, G Elijah Brown, G Victor Bailey, F Abu Kigab, F Kenny Wooten
Key matchups: 11/23 vs. Connecticut, 11/24 vs. Michigan State, 1/13 vs. Arizona
Dark cloud: Altman has become famous for putting together makeshift rosters via junior college and graduate transfers, and making it work, but even he will have a tough time replacing the massive talent loss from last season’s Final Four squad. Brooks, Bell, Dorsey, Ennis, Boucher, Casey Benson and Kavell Bigby-Williams are all gone. No word on if Puddles the Duck will return.
Bright side: Altman has always found ways to make things work, and he secured one of the most talented recruits to ever sign with Oregon in forward Troy Brown, a likely first-round NBA draft pick next season, to head the 12th-best recruiting class in the nation. Altman also brought in elite New Mexico grad transfer Elijah Brown, who scored 18.9 points per game last season.
Oregon State Beavers
Coach: Wayne Tinkle (199-143 overall, 41-54 at Oregon State)
2016-17 record: 5-27 (1-17 Pac-12)
Key returners: F Tres Tinkle (20.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg), G Stephen Thompson (16.3 ppg), F Drew Eubanks (14.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
Key losses: G Daine Muller (2.0 ppg), F Keondre Dew (2.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
Key additions: G Ethan Thompson, G Alfred Hollins, G Zach Reichle
Key matchups: 11/23 at St. John’s, 1/5 vs. Oregon, 2/22 vs. Arizona
Dark cloud: The Beavers were very, very bad last season. They won five games one year after making the NCAA Tournament!
Bright side: The Beavers return their top nine scorers, including Tres Tinkle, who missed most of last season with injuries. With a healthy Tinkle and a couple of four-star recruits, Oregon State is set for a bounce-back season.
Coach: Jerod Haase (94-70 overall, 14-17 at Stanford)
2016-17 record: 14-17 (6-12 Pac-12)
Key returners: F Reid Travis (17.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg), F Dorian Pickens (12.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg), C Michael Humphrey (9.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
Key losses: G Marcus Allen (8.2 ppg, 2.0 apg), G Christian Sanders (3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg)
Key additions: F Kezie Okpala, G Daejon Davis
Key matchups: 11/20 vs. North Carolina, 11/23 vs. Florida, 11/24 vs Gonzaga
Dark cloud: The Cardinal haven’t been a legitmate Pac-12 contender in a while, and until they start showing signs of progress, it’s hard to trust them. And their backcourt is a problem area with the loss of Allen.
Bright side: If not for a couple players in Tucson, Travis might be the favorite for Pac-12 Player of the Year. The Cardinal have one of the best frontcourts in the conference, though one of its worst backcourts. Stanford snagged Davis after he was released from his commitment to Washington.
Coach: Steve Alford (559-280 overall, 96-45 at UCLA)
2016-17 record: 31-5 (15-3 Pac-12), NCAA Sweet 16
Key returners: G Aaron Holiday (12.3 ppg, 4.4 apg), C Thomas Welsh (10.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg), F Gyorgy Goloman (3.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
Key losses: G Lonzo Ball (14.6 ppg, 7.6 apg), F T.J. Leaf (16.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg), G Bryce Alford (15.5 ppg)
Key additions: G Jaylen Hands, F Kris Wilkes, F Cody Riley, C Jalen Hill; G LiAngelo Ball
Key matchups: 12/9 vs. Michigan, 12/23 vs. Kentucky, 2/8 at Arizona
Dark cloud: No more Ball, a program-changing talent that put UCLA back on the trajectory toward being a Pac-12 power. Losing Leaf, Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton and Ike Anigbogu isn’t ideal either.
Bright side: Less of Lavar Ball! Also, the Bruins added a stellar recruiting class led by point guard Hands and forward Wilkes after last year’s Ball-Leaf duo. Holiday is due for an uptick in scoring, too. There’s a lot of roster turnover, but still loads of talent.
Coach: Andy Enfield (111-92 overall, 70-64 at USC)
2016-17 record: 26-10 (10-8 Pac-12), NCAA second round
Key returners: F Bennie Boatwright (15.1 ppg), F Chimezie Metu (14.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg), G Jordan McLaughlin (12.9 ppg, 5.5 apg), G Elijah Stewart (12.3 ppg), G De’Anthony Melton (8.3 ppg, 3.5 apg)
Key losses: F Charles Buggs (2.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg)
Key additions: F Charles O’Bannon Jr., G Derryck Thornton, F Jordan Usher, C Victor Uyaelunmo
Key matchups: 11/26 vs. Texas A&M, 2/10 at Arizona, March 3 vs. UCLA
Dark cloud: See: Arizona. The Trojans are as involved with the NCAA investigations as the Wildcats are. USC’s end of it involves assistant coach Tony Bland, who was once considered for a position on Arizona’s staff.
Bright side: The Trojans showed improvement last season, making the NCAA Tournament. Now, not only does USC return its top eight scorers, it also adds the 18th-best recruiting class in the nation, led by five-star forward O’Bannon and Duke transfer Thornton.
Coach: Larry Krystkowiak (154-105 overall, 115-85 at Utah)
2016-17 record: 20-12 (11-7 Pac-12), NIT first round
Key returners: F David Collette (13.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg), G Sedrick Barefield (9.0 ppg), F Tyler Rawson (6.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
Key losses: F Kyle Kuzma (16.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg), G Lorenzo Bonam (12.5 ppg, 3.1 apg), G Devon Daniels (9.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
Key additions: G Justin Bibbins, F Branden Carlson, F Donnie Tillman
Key matchups: 12/5 vs. Butler, 1/4 vs. Arizona, 3/3 vs. Colorado
Dark cloud: Kuzma has become somewhat of an internet sensation with the NBA’s Lakers, but that doesn’t help Utah this season. He’s a huge loss, but so are Bonam, Daniels and even Jojo Zamora. The result: A rebuilding season in Salt Lake City.
Bright side: Krystkowiak is a top-notch coach and added one of the top available players on the transfer market in Bibbins. Collette and Barefield are solid.
Coach: Mike Hopkins (4-5, 0-0 at Washington)
2016-17 record: 9-22 (2-16 Pac-12)
Key returners: G David Crisp (13.8 ppg, 3.1 apg), F Noah Dickerson (12.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg), G Matisse Thybulle (10.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
Key losses: G Markelle Fultz (23.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.9 apg), F Malik Dime (5.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
Key additions: G Jaylen Nowell, F Hameir Wright, F Nahziah Carter
Key matchups: 12/6 vs. Kansas, 12/10 vs. Gonzaga, 1/28 vs. Washington State
Dark cloud: Washington was on track for a top-5 recruiting class, led by likely top draft pick Michael Porter, but then the Huskies posted one of the worst seasons in program history, coach Lorenzo Romar was fired and the recruiting class scatters. Porter is now at Missouri, Romar is an assistant at Arizona and the Huskies are in for a long season.
Bright side: Hopkins, a Jim Boeheim disciple, did a good job of keeping Nowell, Wright and Carter. Carter is a nephew of rapper Jay-Z, so maybe Hov will be in the building this season.
Washington State Cougars
Coach: Ernie Kent (360-311 overall, 35-58 at Wazzu)
2016-17 record: 13-18 (6-12 Pac-12)
Key returners: G Malachi Flynn, F Robert Franks
Key losses: F Josh Hawkinson, G Ike Iroegbu, G Charles Callison, C Conor Clifford
Key additions: F Drick Bernstine, F Roberto Gittens, F Kwinton Hinson, C Davante Cooper
Key matchups: 12/20 vs. Kansas State, Jan. 6 vs. Washington, Jan. 28 at Washington
Dark cloud: Hawkinson was one of the best players in the conference the last three years, and Wazzu still was one of the worst teams in the conference. Now, the Cougars have lost Hawkinson, Iroegbu, Callison and Clifford and added three recruits that aren’t even ranked by ESPN.
Bright side: Their best player will undoubtedly be forward Bernstine, a North Dakota transfer who played well in the NCAA Tournament against Arizona. Other than that … meh.