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July 25, 2007 at 4:31 PM

A look ahead

My attention will shift from basketball to football for the next few days as I’m attending Pac-10 media day, as well as taking on a few other duties (namely hydros, an interest since my days growing up in the Tri-Cities).
But I’d like to keep the conversation going here if I can, so I’ll give you my projection for the All-Pac-10 Team for next season and welcome your thoughts in the comments section.
As we reported here a few months ago, the conference will change the format for the team next season. Instead of simply naming 10 players for an All-Conference team (or only nine as it turned out last season when not enough received at least 50 percent of the votes), the coaches will instead pick three five-man teams —- first, second and third.
I’m told they will be selected regardless of position — the first team could be five centers if those were the five best players, for instance — so that’s what we’ll do here, as well.
Darren Collison, UCLA (who is also my pick for Player of the Year)
Chase Budinger, Arizona
Ryan Anderson, Cal
Kyle Weaver, Washington State
Kevin Love, UCLA
COMMENT: I think Collison was pretty close to winning POY honors last year, and as the point guard on the team that will be the pre-season fave to win the Pac-10, and in the top five in the nation, seems a pretty obvious choice. Budinger was good last year and should make a real leap in production with having to pick up the slack with other players gone as well as the benefit of a year of experience. Weaver is the most versatile player in the conference and could be a POY candidate if the Cougars can repeat or top what they did a year ago. Anderson is among the most productive players in the conference and should only be better. Love could be a reach here, but if he’s really as good as the hype, sounds as if this is where he’ll end up.
Derrick Low
, Washington State
Jon Brockman, Washington
Lawrence Hill, Stanford
Brook Lopez, Stanford
Bryce Taylor, Oregon
COMMENT: Low and Brockman could easily end up on the first team depending on how things work out (in Brockman’s case, team success will tell a lot). Hill and Lopez could have Stanford contending for a top three spot this year. Tough call on which of the Oregon seniors to put here, but Taylor seems primed to have the best year statistically.
Malik Hairston
, Oregon
DeVon Hardin, Cal
Maarty Leunen, Oregon
Taj Gibson, USC
Marcel Jones, Oregon State
COMMENT: Hairston could end up a lot higher if he stays healthy — that he was finally healthy was a big reason the Ducks finished as well as they did a year ago. If healthy, Hardin will be one of the more imposing big men in the conference, if not the nation. Making the Pan Am Games team shows that Leunen may have more in the tank than he displayed at times last season. Gibson is a beast in the middle, and Jones quietly became one of the most productive players in the conference last season.
GUYS WHO ALMOST MADE IT, OR COULD MAKE IT BY MARCH: Quincy Pondexter, Washington; Robin Lopez, Stanford; Anthony Goods, Stanford; Josh Shipp, UCLA (injuries still a concern); Tajuan Porter, Oregon; Jawann McClellan, Arizona; Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State; Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA; O.J. Mayo, USC; C.J. Giles, Oregon State.
COMMENT: Doing this, I’m struck by how good the Pac-10 really should be this season. The guys on my “almost made it list” are all probably talented enough to make the first team or second team depending on how things shake out.
AND A NOTE TO MALLORY: You’re probably right that I shouldn’t bother listing a UW starting lineup by position, since Lorenzo Romar is big on not trying to horseshoe guys into specific positions (trust me that I’ve heard that explanation a lot through the years). But I figured for the purposes of debate, it made it more clear why I was putting which players in the lineup. UW could have its share of unconventional-looking lineups next year, however, with so much depth in the backcourt and so many players who seem able to play different positions.

Comments | Topics: UCLA


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