This is a team that had little offensive fire power to begin with, and then they lose their top two scorers in Anthony Goods and Lawrence Hill.
Under Johnny Dawkins the Cardinal have failed to impress at any level, and it appears like it might be a long time before they begin to see some improvement based on recruiting (although the commitments of John Gage and Aaron Bright, two local prep stars, do help).
The Cardinal are last on this list because, well it is difficult to see exactly who will lead the Cardinal on their offensive attack outside of Landry Fields.
Fields was the third leading scorer for Stanford last season, and the incoming senior will probably be facing a an absurd amount of defensive focus from opposing teams because of the lack of talent around him.
But in reality, there is little to say about Stanford because none of their players really stand out.
If Josh Owens, an incoming junior forward, and Jeremy Green, an incoming sophomore, do not step up it will be terribly long season in Paolo Alto.
I have determined that Dawkins’ stay at Stanford should officially be dubbed, “Just waiting on Coach K era.” The hire never really made sense to me, the moment that Coach K retires from Durham, Dawkins will be heading back to the east coast and coaching his alma mater.
At least they have a cool mascot.
This will become a trend on any of these lists of top ten, get used to seeing the Trojans at or near the bottom.
Its obvious at first, they have lost almost everyone (and I don’t expect Lil Romeo to have a breakout season.)
While most people will point to DeMar DeRozan’s departure to the NBA, I believe the most significant loss was Daniel Hackett who was a top tier point guard in the Pac-10. Hackett was basically dynamite from wherever, shooting the ball, driving, or setting up plays for his teammates. I believe I have discussed my fondness for Hackett’s game before, but I have thought for as long as he was on the USC campus that they would be able to challenge for the NCAA tournament any year. He was the glue, the wood, and whatever you want to build, of that team.
So yes they lose the amazing talent and potential of DeRozan, they lose their most important player in Hackett, they lose another great player in Taj Gibson who I would argue again was even more valuable than DeRozan because of what he brought offensively.
There will be two players who will be the offense (literally). Leading scorer from last season Dwight Lewis comes back, and fortunately for USC he did. Lewis does not have the greatest pro potential, so leaving early for the NBA made little sense for him. He will command the ball on offense the majority of the time because of the lack of talent in Los Angeles.
Alex Stephenson, the transfer from North Carolina, will be the other player who will play with the most pressure to preform offensively. Stephenson I’m sure is regretting his move to USC after everything that has transpired there, but will be forced to step up and play a vital role if USC has any (and that any is incredibly long) chance at being a successful basketball team.
USC was going to depend on recruits such as Solomon Hill and Noel Johnson, but with the turmoil almost the entire recruiting class bolted for greener pastures.
It should be a miserable season in Los Angeles.
8. Arizona State
The post James Harden era is going to be ugly for the Sun Devils at the beginning.
Without the face of their athletic program Arizona State will almost definitely have a down year, but with Herb Sendek’s history it should not take long to turn it around.
I have ASU higher than Stanford and USC though because of their potential, which USC and especially Stanford lack.
Although they lose Harden and Jeff Pendegraph, the Sun Devils return Rihards Kuksiks, one of the more interesting players in the conference who was third for ASU in scoring during his sophomore season. Ty Abbott is also a player who has great potential and could end up being a leader for the team because of his shooting and scoring ability.
Kuksiks and Abbott are complimented by Derek Glasser, who I don’t like, but can shoot from basically anywhere on the court. Then Jamele McMillian is a classic point guard who should be able to distribute effectively.
So there is not much there for the Sun Devils, but they could make things interesting offensively.
7. Washington State
If any Cougar fans read this I’m sure they will be up in arms about being so low. Average responses from a Cougar fan would probably be something like this…
“We have Klay Thompson!”, “Thompson makes Thomas look like poo!”, “Klay is sooooooooo underrated, we actually have basketball players instead of athletes”, “OMG, we have Klay this list is stupid”, “Klay is basically the most complete player ever, this is so biased for Huskies its not even funny.”
Yes, Klay Thompson is a great basketball player there is little debating that. However he is not the second coming of Jerry West+Michael Jordan+Wilt Chamberlain like some Cougars make him out to be.
The reality is that the Cougars have lost a “poo”load of players from last season. Most importantly were the departures of Taylor Rochestie and Aaron Baynes, but Caleb Forrest and Daven “Sucker Punch” Harmeling also have left the Palouse.
The Cougars will not have much of an offensive attack besides Thompson and DeAngelo Casto.
The only reason why they are this high is because of fondness for Ken Bone, who I think is just an amazing basketball coach and will find some way to get a couple of kids to step up.
Perhaps it is blind faith, I can’t even guess who those players will be that step up. But with Thompson, Casto, and whoever Ken Bone is able to make a great player, the Cougars should not be completely handicapped offensively.
6. Oregon State
What a difference a coach makes.
A year ago this team would probably be last in about every list possible that could be thought of for these “Ten of the Pac-10”, but Craig Robinson has made me into a believer.
The Beavers are fortunate in that almost all of their significant players are coming back for another season and they are able to add a somewhat surprisingly good recruiting class.
Everyone’s favorite player from the Netherlands, Roeland Schaftenaar is back for a senior season and will likely lead the team in scoring once again with Calvin Haynes.
But the Beavers are also able to keep Seth Tarver and Lathen Wallace for awhile longer.
This team is loaded with players entering their final year, and this could (I can’t believe I’m saying this) be a tournament team.
They are lower on this list though because they are a team that is primarily a defensive team. OSU averaged 60 PPG last season, and while there is likely going to be a slight increase because they have gained experience from last season, it wont be enough to make them the next Showtime Lakers team.
This team lives off defense, and their season might live a little longer than usual.
Oregon will be terrible, I’m pretty certain that is something everyone will agree with. But they will not be as terrible as last season, and actually have some nice offensive weapons at their disposal.
Of course Tajuan Porter is one of the biggest reasons why as Mighty Mouse 2.0 is basically insane at scoring the ball. While he is insanely bad defensively, very few can keep up with the rate this kid puts the ball in the basket.
I’m more interested in the growth of LeKendrick Longmire and Michael Dunigan. If both of those players can continue to develop and live up to their potential, two years from now it is not ridiculous to think Oregon will making their way back up the standings.
Dunigan is the x-factor however as he is an extremely skilled big man who has the potential to be special. Last season he averaged only 8.4 points per game in his freshman season, but there is absolutely no way that the 6’10” center will not be able to improve on that. He could be a lethal inside threat for the Ducks in a conference that lacks big man talent.
Longmire is going to be the off ball specialist and should be prepping to put up a lot of jump shots. Longmire shot a very impressive 42% from the three point line on 62 attempts. Longmire also has the 6’5″ the length to continue to improve his game overall.
Then keep an eye out for Kamyron Brown and Drew Wiley, both could surprise.
It will be a tough season for the Ducks, they should be pretty respectable offensively though. Don’t expect Ernie Kent to return though, I’m sure Phil Knight will want a headliner coach when the new basketball arena opens.
UCLA has a bunch of guys who are going to have to prove themselves, but have the potential to be special.
While at their worst the team probably falls in this same spot because of how special talent is, the team has nice offensive weapons to make any team in the country sweat.
Drew Gordon and Malcolm Lee should end up being two of the primary scorers for the Bruins, giving them a nice inside-out combo.
But the main question marks will be Bobo Morgan, Jerime Anderson, and Tyler Honeycutt. All three of these prospects have the opportunity to be great players and contribute to a strong bruins offense, but all three (or in the case of Honeycutt, have not player) do not have significant minutes at the college level to really be 100% about them.
I believe that Gordon is more than able to carry the Bruins somewhat. Ben Howland liked him as a player last season when there were many seniors on the roster. But his defensive game is much stronger than his offensive, so how much he developed his game for the upcoming season will impact the Bruins overall prowess.
UCLA will win a lot of games this year, it just wont be with their offense.
Arizona loses their top two scorers, but this is a team with established players to build off of, and Sean Miller was able to bring in a very respectable freshman class in his first season in Tucson.
Nic Wise will be the leader of the team, there is no doubting that. Wise pulled his name out of the NBA draft to stay for another season with the Wildcats, and will be leaned on heavily to provide veteran scoring and leadership.
But around Wise there are nice complimentary players that make Arizona an intriguing team.
Zane Johnson should provide lights out shooting, Jamelle Horne is going to step up and should be a solid contributor in a Quincy Pondexter type role, Kyle Fogg could make for an interesting backcourt with Wise, and freshman Solomon Hill should be a valuable add.
Many, including myself, saw little chance of Arizona coming out of their “rut” so quickly. It appears they already have done so and are more than prepared for a great future under Sean Miller.
It is incredibly close between the final two, but I have to give Washington the edge over Cal.
Jerome Randle is a hell of a player and will fight with Isaiah Thomas to be the leading scorer in the conference in all likelihood. We really saw what Randle could do during the Cal game in Seattle last season as he carried the team to a victory.
Their team is returning almost everyone, and it really is hard to talk about Cal because they are just flat out good. Jerome Randle is good, Patrick Christopher is good, Jamal Boykin is good. Almost everyone on that roster is good.
I hate putting UW ahead of Cal because I don’t want everyone to believe I’m biased, but there is only one reason why I placed the Huskies over Cal.
Abdul Gaddy is going to add a ridiculous ammount of offensive efficency next season. Add that with Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Elston Turner, and a spot up shooter like C.J. Wilcox, its just hard for me not to believe that this will be the top offensive team in the conference, even one of the top in the country.
I’m not even factoring what Tyreese Breshers could add. I have this feeling Breshers will have a lot of those “will baskets”, meaning he just scores points because he’s scrappy and has more will to get the job done than a lot of the players on the court.
How crucial was it that Breshers was also around Jon Brockman for at least one season? Talk about someone to model your game after, Breshers is in the same boat as Brockman being an undersized power forward who has to utilize his effort to get the job done. Hopefully Brockman gave him some pointers because having someone with that attitude can do nothing but good for a basketball team.
Get ready for a fast break, Montlake (intended).