With some key stay-or-go-to-the-NBA decisions still looming, as well as the loopy graduate-transfer period of college free agency, the health of Pac-12 hoops for 2014-15 looks to be in limbo for a while.
Still, it appears we can say this much: The league doesn’t figure to be as robust as it was in 2013-14, when six teams made the NCAA tournament and a seventh, California, probably should have if not for repeated stumbles down the stretch. Seven would have represented an unprecedented number for the Pac-12.
Making broad-stroke assessments of programs outside the state, you’d probably say these figure to take a step back: Cal, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA and Arizona State. And those figuring to be better include Colorado, Utah, USC and Washington State. But the last two have ground to make up simply to be competitive night in and night out.
I’d put Arizona, Oregon and Washington in the tough-to-call category. Arizona, even if it’s not better than this year, will clearly be very good. Oregon loses a lot, but given Dana Altman’s add-to-cart proclivities, might still gain pieces. Washington may well be better with Jernard Jerreau coming off a knee injury, but it has to account for losing one of its most prolific scorers in history, C.J. Wilcox.
For the Huskies, it’s quite possible that the (decreased) quality of the league helps them in a hoped-for climb upward. Simply put, it doesn’t look as imposing as it might have been this year to crack the first division.
Meanwhile, some important NBA choices are still to be made by UCLA guard Jordan Adams, Arizona’s Nick Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie, and yes, apparently even Washington’s Nigel Williams-Goss.
Dinwiddie is trying to rehabilitate his knee injured in January against Washington, and if he can convince NBA brass he’s healthy and sound by the early NBA declaration date of April 27 – and gets some sort of assurance he’d be a first-round pick – he’d likely be gone. But it seems highly improbable it can all happen that quickly.
A fast (and early) look at the league for 2014-15:
What it loses: G Jordin Mayes.
What’s back: G T.J. McConnell, F Brandon Ashley, C Kaleb Tarczewski. Fs Aaron Gordon, Hollis-Jefferson and G Johnson are all possibilities to leave early.
Incoming: Fs Stanley Johnson and Craig Victor would be ready replacements if the Wildcats take a big hit at forward. Johnson is MaxPreps.com’s national player of the year.
Stat to remember: Arizona created 124 more opposition turnovers than foes had assists.
Outlook: ‘Cats are already getting mention as a possible preseason No. 1.
What it loses: G Jahii Carson, G Jermaine Marshall, F Shaquielle McKissic, C Jordan Bachynski.
What’s back: G Bo Barnes, F Jonathan Gilling.
Incoming: 6-4 junior college Gs Roosevelt Scott and Gerry Blakes, and possibly another transfer.
Stat to remember: Sun Devils had a minus-2.4 rebound margin.
Outlook: Given Carson’s contribution to the offense and Bachynski’s to the defense, hard to find anybody else in the league that lost more.
What it loses: G Justin Cobbs, F Richard Solomon, Nos. 1 and 4 scorers.
What’s back: G Jabari Bird, F David Kravish, F Ricky Kreklow, G Tyrone Wallace, G Jordan Mathews.
Incoming: Mike Montgomery’s replacement, yet to be named. Monty campaigned hard for assistant Travis DeCuire.
Stat to remember: Solomon took with him 10.2 rebounds a game.
Outlook: Bears have a good nucleus returning, but Cobbs leaves a hole at the point and the coaching question is big.
What it loses: Nobody of significance, unless Dinwiddie departs.
What’s back: G Askia Booker, F Xavier Johnson, F Wesley Gordon, G Xavier Talton, C Josh Scott, F Tre’Shaun Fletcher.
Incoming: F Tory Miller, who had a lot of major offers.
Stat to remember: Buffs shot only .435.
Outlook: Lots of outlets are overlooking CU, keeping them out of early Top 25s for 2014-15. Too much talent here to do that, Dinwiddie or not.
What it loses: F Mike Moser, G Johnathan Loyd, G Jason Calliste, F Richard Amardi, F Waverly Austin.
What’s back: G Dominic Artis, G Joseph Young, G Damyean Dotson, F Elgin Cook, F Ben Carter.
Incoming: JC transfer F Michael Chandler (6-10), 6-9 F Ray Kasongo, and a lot of uncertainty. F Jordan Bell, a former four-star forward, ended up at a prep school and his status is uncertain. ESPN top 100 recruit JaQuan Lyle, a 6-5 point guard, apparently doesn’t yet have a qualifying test score. And Brandon Austin, a Providence transfer, is a former top-50 recruit recently implicated in a sexual-assault case at his old school, putting his status in doubt.
Stat to remember: Oregon allowed .439 shooting.
Outlook: More than any other team, Oregon’s roster can change between now and the fall. It does appear set in the backcourt, provided Artis is motivated after a poor season.
What it loses: F Angus Brandt, F Devon Collier, G Roberto Nelson. F Eric Moreland might declare for the NBA draft.
What’s back: G Challe Barton, G Malcolm Duvivier, G Hallice Cooke, F Jarmal Reed, F Victor Robbins, G Morris Langston-Walker, F Daniel Gomis.
Incoming: Among recruits signed is Gary Payton’s son of the same name, a 6-3 JC transfer.
Stat to remember: Beaver defense was again leaky, allowing .445 shooting.
Outlook: Loss of Nelson, Collier and Brandt represents top three scorers who combined for 46 points. A lot of guys returning have played, but there’s nobody that’s experienced winning in the Pac-12 – including coach Craig Robinson.
What it loses: F Josh Huestis, F Dwight Powell, F John Gage, G Robbie Lemons. G Aaron Bright is a graduate transfer moving on to St. Mary’s.
What’s back: G Chasson Randle, C Stefan Nastic, G-F Anthony Brown.
Incoming: Solid recruiting class, including forwards Reid Travis (6-8) and Michael Humphrey (6-9).
Stat to remember: Randle led the team in scoring (18.8) but had a negative assist-turnover ratio (77-88).
Outlook: Coach Johnny Dawkins finally got it right this year, just as the vultures were circling. But with Powell and Huestis leaving, a return to the NCAA tournament looks like a challenge.
What it loses: G Zach LaVine, G Kyle Anderson, F David Wear, F Travis Wear. G Jordan Adams might head to the NBA.
What’s back: G Norman Powell, G Bryce Alford, C Tony Parker.
Incoming: A class heavy on inside players, including McDonald’s All-Americans Kevon Looney and 6-11 local product Thomas Welsh. Aussie Jonah Bolden (6-8) is also a good get.
Stat to remember: Bruins had 257 more assists than turnovers.
Outlook: It’s a lot to lose, especially if Adams is outbound. How quickly Steve Alford can mold the newcomers will tell the story.
What it loses: G Pe’Shon Howard, C Omar Oraby, G J.T. Terrell.
What’s back: G Byron Wesley, F Nikola Jovanovic, F Strahinja Gavrilovic, G Julian Jacobs.
Incoming: Transfers G Katin Reinhardt (6-5, UNLV) and F Darion Clark (6-7, Charlotte), plus four-star point guard Jordan McLaughlin and four-star Floridian F Malik Price-Martin (6-9).
Stat to remember: Terrell’s faulty shot selection resulted in .364 from the field, .259 from three.
Outlook: If Andy Enfield can get a lot of disparate parts to mesh, Trojans could make a decisive climb out of the cellar.
What it loses: F Renan Lenz.
What’s back: G Delon Wright, F Jordan Loveridge, F Dallin Bachynski, F Jeremy Olsen, G Brandon Taylor, G-F Dakarai Tucker, G Kenneth Ogbe and G-F Princeton Onwas.
Incoming: F Kyle Kuzma, well traveled ESPN four-star recruit from Burton, Mich.
Stat to remember: Taylor, who failed on 13 free throws all season in shooting .806, missed all three with 2:06 left in OT and the Utes trailing Arizona by two in a game they would lose.
Outlook: Utes will be expected to get to the NCAA tournament and should do so, making the mountain trip a bear for visitors.
What it loses: G C.J. Wilcox, C Perris Blackwell, F Desmond Simmons.
What’s back: G Andrew Andrews, G Darin Johnson, G-F Mike Anderson, F Jernard Jarreau, F Shawn Kemp Jr. G Nigel Williams-Goss is pondering the NBA draft, but a departure seems unlikely.
Incoming: F Donaven Dorsey, F Tristan Etienne.
Stat to remember: Take away Wilcox, and the team hit .301 on threes. And it allowed opponents to shoot .475 overall.
Outlook: It’s still fuzzy around Montlake as critics get noisier. Williams-Goss’ return looks like a must for Huskies.
What it loses: F Will DiIorio, F D.J. Shelton.
What’s back: G DaVonte Lacy, G Royce Woolridge, G Ike Iroegbu, F Josh Hawkinson, F Junior Longrus, F Dexter Kernich-Drew, G Que Johnson, C Jordan Railey.
Incoming: Garfield product G Tramaine Isabell, if new coach Ernie Kent can keep him on board, and JC F Jermaine Morgan.
Stat to remember: Cougars were 330th nationally in points per game (62.4) and 332nd in shooting (.400).
Outlook: After a 3-15 Pac-12 season, they can’t go any lower, can they? If Kent can get them functioning offensively in his faster-paced scheme, his first year will be a success.