The Pac-12 asked those of us who regularly cover the league to send in picks by today, in time for the league’s official media poll to be released at Pac-12 media day on Thursday.
So here's my ballot, along with a short summary of each team. Departures are seniors and new arrivals are freshmen unless otherwise noted.
Departures: G Mark Lyons, F Solomon Hill, F Kevin Parrom, F Grant Jerrett (early pro departure), F Angelo Chol (transferred to SDSU).
Arrivals: G T.J. McConnell (transfer from Duquesne), F Aaron Gordon, F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F Zach Peters (transfer from Kansas), F Matt Korcheck (redshirted after juco transfer), G Elliott Pitts
Bottom line: Nic Wise, MoMo Jones and Mark Lyons all had their strengths but none was a true point guard. Finally, Sean Miller has his first one yet in McConnell – and his most talent overall – since he’s been at Arizona. If this group can develop leadership and some outside shooting, a Final Four run isn’t out of the question.
Departures: F Andre Roberson (early to NBA), G Sabatino Chen, C Shane Harris-Tunks (early to Australian pro basketball), G Jeremy Adams (transferred to Grand Canyon)
Arrivals: F Wesley Gordon, F Chris Jenkins, G Jaron Hopkins, F Tre’Shaun Fletcher, F Dustin Thomas, F George King.
Bottom line: Don’t let the loss of the springy Roberson fool you: This is a loaded team with just about everybody else back and a promising replacement for Roberson in Gordon, a 6-8 athlete who was Colorado’s second-leading rebounder in practice last season while redshirting. The Buffs have an NBA talent in point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, size with Scott and scoring ability from anywhere on the floor.
Departures: F Arsalan Kazemi, F E.J. Singler, C Tony Woods, F Carlos Emory, F Austin Kuemper (transferred to Northwest Christian), G Willie Moore (Transferred to Miami, Ohio), G Fred Richardson III (transferred to Houston Baptist)
Arrivals: F Mike Moser (transferred from UNLV), G Jason Calliste (transferred from Detroit), G Joseph Young (transferred from Houston, eligibility uncertain for 2013-14), G Jalil Abdul-Bassit (juco transfer), F Richard Amardi (juco transfer), F Elgin Cook (juco transfer).
Bottom line: Nobody knows how to take advantage of the current transfer-mania in college basketball better than Oregon coach Dana Altman, who keeps upgrading his talent every season until the moment school begins in September. If Young can get cleared to play immediately, the Ducks have a powerful backcourt with Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis while Moser can adequately replace Kazemi inside especially if he can find the form of his all-Mountain West 2011-12 season at UNLV.
Departures: G Larry Drew II, G Shabazz Muhammad (early to NBA).
Arrivals: G Zach LaVine, G Bryce Alford, F Wannah Bail (eligibility uncertain for 2013-14), F Noah Allen.
Bottom line: Say what you want about new coach Steve Alford – who made much less of an initial splash than USC’s Andy Enfield across town – but he has one of the Pac-12’s most talented starting fives. Jordan Adams, assuming he heals fully from a broken foot suffered against UA in the Pac-12 Tournament, was at his best last season when Shabazz Muhammad wasn’t available.
Departures: G Allen Crabbe (early to NBA),
Arrivals: G Jabari Bird (McDonalds HS All-American), G Jordan Mathews, G Sam Singer, F Roger Moute a Bidias, C Kameron Rooks
Bottom line: Coach Mike Montgomery has kept the Bears perennially in the Pac-12 race despite having many of the Bay area’s top talents skip by Berkeley. Now he has Bird, the explosive son of a former Cal player, opting to stay home. So even without Crabbe this is, once again, not a team to ignore.
Departures: G Andy Brown (medical).
Arrivals: F Schuyler Rimmer, G Marcus Allen, G Malcolm Allen
Bottom line: The Cardinal was probably the Pac-12’s biggest tease last season, with size, athleticism, shooting and nearly everyone back – but went 19-15 and out in the second round of the NIT. This season, Stanford has size, athleticism, shooting and nearly everybody back but … who knows? The Cardinal is capable of finishing second, or 10th.
Departures: F Carrick Felix, G Evan Gordon (transferred to Indiana), G Chris Colvin, C Ruslan Pateev
Arrivals: G Jermaine Marshall (transferred from Penn State), F Brandan Kearney (transferred from Michigan State), G Calean Robinson (sat out 2012-13), F Sai Tummala (juco), F Shaquielle McKissic (juco), F Richie Edwards (transferred from Valparaiso)
Bottom line: Jahii Carson declared early last season on Twitter that he was the best of the Pac-12’s point guards and, well, it was tough to argue with him. Now, surrounded by a decent returning core, and a proven slasher in Jermaine Marshall, he could be the conference’s MVP if the Sun Devils finish in the upper half.
Departures: G Abdul Gaddy, G Scott Suggs, C Aziz N’Diaye, F Martin Breunig (transferred to Montana)
Arrivals: G Nigel Williams-Goss (McDonalds All-American), C Perris Blackwell (transferred from San Francisco), G Mike Anderson (juco transfer), G Jahmel Taylor, G Darin Johnson, F Gilles Dierickx (transferred from Florida International)
Bottom line: Last season, the Huskies uncharacteristically averaged just 67.9 points, grabbed three fewer steals on average than in previous years…and won just 18 games. But with a deeper and more athletic roster – plus one of the Pac-12’s best scorers in Wilcox – the Huskies are aiming to get back to their aggressive, high-speed ways.
9. Oregon State
Departures: C Joe Burton, G Ahmad Starks (transferred to Illinois)
Arrivals: G Hallice Cooke, C Cheikh Ndaiye, G Malcolm Duvivier
Bottom line: Lots of experience, talent … and questions. Two of OSU’s best players, Eric Moreland and Devon Collier, were suspended in the offseason for unspecified reasons. Collier will miss a game and Moreland will miss 14, meaning both will be back for the bulk of conference play. Forward Daniel Gomis (broken leg) and center Angus Brandt (ACL) return from big injuries. This team should be good ... by February.
Departures: F Cedric Martin, G Jarred DuBois, C Jason Washburn, G Glen Dean (transferred to Idaho), G Aaron Dotson (left program early)
Arrivals: G Delon Wright (juco transfer), G Kenneth Ogbe, F Princeton Onwas (juco transfer), G Ahmad Fields, G Parker Van Dyke, G Connor Van Bronklin (juco transfer), C Marko Kovacevic (juco transfer)
Bottom line: Forward Jordan Loveridge is the Utes’ only fulltime returning starter yet the overall roster is upgraded. That’s because coach Larry Krystkowiak has some promising reserves returning and brought in four juco transfers and at least two freshmen who should contribute. Utah has enough skill and depth that that Krystkowiak is even thinking about sprinkling in the triangle offense, which he played under Phil Jackson, though Krystkowiak says he doesn’t want to slow the Utes down.
Departures: C Dewayne Dedmon (early NBA departure), F Eric Wise, G Jio Fontan, F Aaron Fuller, F Ari Stewart (ruled academically ineligible), C James Blasczyk
Arrivals: G Pe’Shon Howard (Maryland transfer), C D.J. Haley (Virginia Commonwealth grad transfer), F Nikola Jovanovich, G Roschon Prince, F Devon Pfluger, G Kahlil Dukes, G Julian Jacobs, G Chass Bryan, G Kahlil Dukes
Bottom line: With an eye-catching “Dunk City” style of play, and two powerhouse SoCal recruiters in Tony Bland and Jason Hart, coach Andy Enfield has long-term potential to excite Trojan hoop fans and recruits alike. But there just isn’t much on hand to start with, other than mercurial-but-talented guard J.T. Terrell, 7-footer Omar Oraby and reliable wing Byron Wesley. But Howard, a capable playmaker who was ruled immediately eligible in August, is a significant bonus.
12. Washington State
Departures: F Brock Motum, G Brett Kingma, G Mike Ladd, G Danny Lawhorn (juco transfer left before playing a game)
Arrivals: G Ike Iroegbu, G Que Johnson, C Jordan Railey (Iowa State transfer), F Josh Hawkinson,
Bottom line: I had this team picked 11th originally but preseason suspensions to Lawhorn and Railey just don’t bode well in what is a make-or-break season for coach Ken Bone. Lawhorn left the Cougars for good earlier this month, and he was expected to be a much-needed true point guard who would give Royce Woolridge and DaVonte Lacy some freedom. Among the other issues? The length of Railey’s suspension is undetermined and, well, um, the Cougars also don’t have anyone close to Motum’s ability inside. If there's hope, it's in that WSU returns several key veterans from a team that lost 10 games by five points or less last season.
Please feel free to add your picks in the comments section of any thread on this blog between now and Sunday, and I'll do my best to compile them and see how we all did in March. (If you’re not on Facebook, you can send them via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter to @brucepascoe.)
I typically “score” picks by adding the difference between the projected and actual finish (as determined by Pac-12 Tournament seeds) for each team. For example, you would have gotten three points for Arizona if you picked UA to win last season, because the Wildcats were seeded fourth in the Pac-12 Tournament.
The lowest cumulative score wins, though there are no real prizes as of now…other than to mention the best scores as I did last season, when Dave G. won it).