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The Pac-12 Basketball Returners

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Who does each Pac-12 team have coming back in 2017-18?

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-USC vs Washington Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we looked at the talent that each team lost going into next season. If you want to check it out, it’s right here. This week, we’ll look at who each team is bringing back. I’m counting a player as coming back if they played at least 5 minutes per game on last year’s team. If a player redshirted or suffered a major injury before conference play then they will be counted under the impact additions column next week. Teams will be ranked in order of least to most talented returners. Raw numbers are not automatically enough to put a team in 1st place here. USC and Oregon State basically bring back their entire team but if I feel another team with only 5 guys coming back matches up better 1-5 then they can be placed ahead of them.

12. California Golden Bears

Key Returners:

  • C Kingsley Okoroh, 7’0”, 252 (Jr.) - 4.6 points per game, 5.5 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 50.3% FG, 53.6% FT; Scout- 3 Star Recruit
  • SG Don Coleman, 6’2”, 188 (Jr.) - 3.6 points per game, 1.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 41.3% 2pt, 20% 3pt, 61.4% FT; Scout- JC Transfer
  • SF Roman Davis, 6’7”, 190 (So.) - 0.9 points per game, 0.7 rebounds, 43.8% 2pt, 20%FT; Scout- 3 Star Recruit

The Bears lost basically everyone off of last year’s team and the few players they are bringing back aren’t going to light the world on fire. Okoroh is a nice piece on the roster. He can anchor the defense and protect the rim but is a complete zero on the offensive end outside of the ability to dunk when standing open next to the basket. Think Aziz N’Diaye’s size and hands but better athleticism. He’s struggled with foul problems but absolutely has to stay on the court now without any depth. Coleman has played sparingly at Cal and it’s still not clear whether he can be a starter. In addition to everything else, they also fail to return their head coach. Enough rubbernecking at the carnage, let’s move on.

11. Washington State Cougars

Key Returners:

  • PG Malachi Flynn, 6’1”, 170 (So.) - 9.7 points per game, 2.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 39.6% 2pt, 38.7% 3pt, 73.5% FT; Scout- 2 Star Recruit
  • SF Viont’e Daniels, 6’2”, 175 (Jr.) - 2.8 points per game, 1 rebound, 1.2 assists, 42.9% 2pt, 35.6% 3pt, 37.5% FT; Scout- 2 Star Recruit
  • PF Robert Franks, 6’7”, 240 (Jr.) - 6.2 points per game, 3.2 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 51.4% 2pt, 31.1% 3pt, 73.2% FT; Scout- 3 Star Recruit

The Cougars edge ahead of Cal because Daniels and Franks have been better complementary pieces than Coleman and Davis so far. Flynn had a good start to his freshman year but struggled mightily in conference play. This is his team now so he’s going to have to turn it up a notch for the Cougars to get by. Franks is a useful piece as a stretch four and Daniels is solid but is allergic to shooting the basketball.

10. Oregon Ducks

Key Returners:

  • PG Payton Pritchard, 6’2”, 200 (So.) - 7.4 points per game, 3.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 45.9% 2pt, 35% 3pt, 73% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #52 Overall
  • PF Roman Sorkin, 6’10”, 225 (Sr.) - 3.2 points per game, 1.9 rebounds, 41.4% 2pt, 38.9% 3pt, 92.9% FT; Scout- 3 Star Prospect
  • SF Keith Smith, 6’7”, 205, (So.) - 1.9 points per game, 0.9 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 65.4% 2pt, 21.4% 3pt, 53.8% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #75 Overall

Pritchard is the only rotation player that the Ducks return from last year’s Final 4 team. He played a very limited role in the offense as a freshman but will now be asked to run things for the Ducks. Sorkin put up good numbers as a stretch 4/5 but of course in very limited minutes. Smith was highly recruited out of Rainier Beach but had no chance to show what he could do and could break out this year. The three players listed above are the only ones returning who played more than 2 minutes per game but they were much more highly sought after coming out of high school than Cal or Wazzu’s returners which bumps them up a spot. They’ve got a returning player coming back at the point, wing, and inside so at least there’s good balance among the returners.

9. Colorado Buffaloes

Key Returners:

  • SF George King, 6’6”, 225 (Sr.) - 11.1 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, 46% FG, 37.6% 3pt, 67.1% FT; Scout- 2 Star Recruit
  • SG Dominique Collier, 6’2”, 190 (Sr.) - 5.9 points per game, 1.6 assists, 1 steal, 34.6% 2pt, 33.3% 3pt, 74% FT; Scout- 4 Star Recruit
  • PF Tory Miller, 6’9”, 242 (Sr.) - 5.5 points per game, 3.7 rebounds, 54.7% 2pt, 50% FT; Scout- 3 Star Recruit

In addition to the 3 listed above, the Buffaloes also return PF Lucas Siewert, and SG Deleon Brown though neither were a top recruit or made much noise last season. King’s role will necessarily grow this year and something in the range of 15 points and 9 rebounds wouldn’t be shocking for him. Collier and Miller are both solid players who will also see their roles greatly expand but neither are an obvious candidate to take a tremendous leap in their senior years. Collier will likely end up playing more point guard this season than he did last now that Derrick White is in the NBA.

8. UCLA Bruins

Key Returners:

  • PG Aaron Holiday, 6’1”, 185 (Jr.) - 12.3 points per game, 2.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 53.9% 2pt, 41.1% 3pt, 79.3% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #40 Overall
  • C Thomas Welsh, 7’0”, 245 (Sr.) - 10.8 points per game, 8.7 rebounds, 58.4% 2pt, 89.4% FT; Scout- 5 Star Prospect, #17 Overall
  • C Gyorgy Goloman, 6’11”, 215, (Sr.) - 3.7 points per game, 2.4 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, 63.9% 2pt, 63.6% FT; Scout- 3 Star Prospect

Just like Oregon, the Bruins only bring back three players who played meaningful minutes on last season’s team but they bring back 2 starters rather than one and those players are more veteran and should be able to make a bigger impact this year. Holiday shared point guard duties alongside Lonzo Ball but is an above average starting point guard in the Pac-12. Welsh is an unusual player who works almost entirely in the midrange but is crazy efficient doing so. Goloman is a backup center who should play that same role again. UCLA will be relying on newcomers for all of their depth on the wing.

7. Utah Utes

Key Returners:

  • PF David Collette, 6’8”, 220 (Sr.) - 13.6 points per game, 5.1 rebounds, 59.6% FG%, 62.5% FT; Scout- 2 Star Prospect
  • SG Sedrick Barefield, 6’2”, 190 (Jr.) - 8.9 points per game, 1.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 44% 2pt, 39.3% 3pt, 73.7% FT; Scout- 3 Star Prospect
  • PF Tyler Rawson, 6’10”, 225 (Sr.) - 5.9 points per game, 3.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 52.1% 2pt, 30% 3pt, 66.1% FT; Scout- JC Transfer

Utah’s depth continues to be on the interior where they have the combo of Collette and Rawson above as well as 7-footer Jayce Johnson returning off a good season in limited minutes behind Kyle Kuzma. The trio of Collette, Rawson, and Johnson is the best combination of returning big men anywhere in the conference. Barefield and Parker Van Dyke will be the first options at PG and SG although Barefield will have to prove he can be more than a fill-in player at the point in order for both of them to start. This is the first team where I see the majority of their minutes coming from returning players.

6. Arizona State Sun Devils

Key Returners:

  • PG Shannon Evans II, 6’1”, 160 (Sr.) - 14.3 points per game, 3.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 46.4% 2pt, 35.8% 3pt, 83.3% FT; Scout- 2 Star Recruit
  • SG Tra Holder, 6’1”, 180 (Sr.) - 15.5 points per game, 3.4 rebounds, 3 assists, 46.2% 2pt, 36.8% 3pt, 77.2% FT; Scout- 4 Star Recruit, #100 Overall
  • SF Kodi Justice, 6’5”, 190 (Sr.) - 8.6 points per game, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 42.9% 2pt, 41.7% 3pt, 75.5% FT; Scout- 3 Star Recruit

The Sun Devils only bring back 4 players from last year’s rotation (with C Ramon Vila being the 4th) but they are among the most impactful quartet in the conference. Holder and Evans are 3rd and 4th respectfully in scoring among returners in the conference and will play almost the entire game at point guard and shooting guard. Kodi Justice is a knock down spot up shooter with adequate size to play small forward. Vila was extremely efficient in limited minutes, shooting 68.8% from the field, so if he can come anywhere close to that as a starter then Arizona State will be in good shape.

5. Washington Huskies

Key Returners:

  • PG David Crisp, 6’0”, 195 (Jr.)- 13.8 points per game, 2.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 47.1% 2pt, 36.7% 3pt%, 68.6% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect
  • SF Matisse Thybulle, 6’5”, 195 (Jr.) - 10 points per game, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 49.2% 2pt, 40.5% 3pt, 84.1% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #83 Overall
  • PF Noah Dickerson, 6’8”, 245 (Jr.) - 12 points per game, 8 rebounds, 56.2% 2pt, 67.6% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #88 Overall

Most readers will know that Crisp, Thybulle, and Dickerson were all 4 star prospects per Scout.com in the 2015 class and with 2 full years of experience they should be ready to take the next step. All were double digit scorers a year ago. Dickerson averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds in the games that Markelle Fultz missed so he has the potential to have a dominant offensive year. Thybulle is a defensive stopper while Crisp is a streaky volume shooter. Carlos Johnson had a nice freshman season and should provide good minutes off the bench on the wing while Sam Timmins has the size necessary to be an effective center if he can improve his footwork. Finally, Dominic Green was one of the worst players in the conference last season but was a top-100 recruit by Scout as well so hopefully he can break out of his existential funk under Coach Hop.

4. Oregon State Beavers

Key Returners:

  • SG Stephen Thompson Jr., 6’4”, 175 (Jr.) - 15 points per game, 4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 44.2% 2pt, 34.1% 3pt, 63.4% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #54 Overall
  • PG Jaquori McLaughlin, 6’4”, 185 (So.) - 10.1 points per game, 2.1 rebounds, 3 assists, 39.1% 2pt, 37.4% 3pt, 74.3% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #89 Overall
  • PF Drew Eubanks, 6’10”, 250 (Jr.) - 13.6 points per game, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 57.8% 2pt, 70.8% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #99 Overall

I decided to put Tres Tinkle under next weeks’ additions column since he only played the first 6 non-conference games or the Beavers would be even higher. The trio of Thompson, McLaughlin, and Eubanks is an excellent foundation for any team and Oregon State is hoping that they are ready to take off after getting a year of experience under their belts. The McLaughlin and Thompson backcourt gives the Beavers great size on the perimeter and Eubanks is a fantastic athlete who I expect to break out this season with the potential to average a double double. Another 5 players return from last year’s team but there is a steep drop off in talent after the three listed above.

3. Stanford Cardinal

Key Returners:

  • PF Reid Travis, 6’8”, 245 (Sr.) - 16.2 points per game, 8.4 rebounds, 57% 2pt, 65.1% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #38 Overall
  • SF Dorian Pickens, 6’5”, 215 (Sr.) - 11.7 points per game, 3.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 47.4% 2pt, 39.3% 3pt, 72.8% FT; Scout- 3 Star Prospect
  • PF Michael Humphrey, 6’9”, 245, (Sr.) - 8.7 points per game, 5.7 rebounds, 48.2% 2pt, 22.2% 3pt, 72.7% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #72 Overall

The Cardinal return 4 of their 5 starters from a year ago so PG Robert Cartwright got left off the list above. Pickens is the only one of those starters that wasn’t a top-100 recruit coming out of high school and all will now be upperclassmen. Reid Travis is the star of this group though and has a real chance to win Pac-12 player of the year if he can bump his minutes played up to 32 or 33 from the 27 of last year. Stanford also brings back their backup center and small forward in Josh Sharma and Marcus Sheffield.

2. Arizona Wildcats

Key Returners:

  • SG Allonzo Trier, 6’5”, 205 (Jr.) - 17.2 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 51.4% 2pt, 39.1% 3pt, 81% FT; Scout- 5 Star Prospect, #20 Overall
  • SF Rawle Alkins, 6’5”, 220 (So.) - 10.9 points per game, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 52.1% 2pt, 37% 3pt, 73.3% FT; Scout- 5 Star Prospect, #23 Overall
  • PG Parker Jackson-Cartwright, 5’11”, 170, (Sr.) - 5.9 points per game, 2.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 43.5% 2pt, 42.3% 3pt, 70.4% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #31 Overall

Practically every player on Arizona’s roster was a former top-50 recruit so it’s no surprise they check-in highly here even when they lost a significant chunk of last year’s team. Allonzo Trier, painfully, is going to be the favorite for Pac-12 player of the year after missing half of last season due to a positive PED test. Both Trier and Alkins could have turned pro but their return will likely lead to Arizona being the pre-season conference favorite. Jackson-Cartwright isn’t going to take a lot of shots but is able to distribute well and can knock down open 3-pointers which should be there in abundance given the skills of his teammates. On top of this trio, the Wildcats also bring back a 7-footer in Dusan Ristic (they always have at least 2) as well as backup PF Keanu Pinder.

1. USC Trojans

Key Returners:

  • PG Jordan McLaughlin, 6’1”, 180 (Sr.) - 12.6 points per game, 3.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 48.7% 2pt, 40.2% 3pt, 79.8% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #35 Overall
  • C Chimezie Metu, 6’11”, 225 (Jr.) - 14.1 points per game, 7.6 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 55.2% 2pt, 74.1% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #30 Overall
  • PF Bennie Boatwright, 6’10”, 230, (Jr.) - 14.3 points per game, 4.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 54.2% 2pt, 36.4% 3pt, 90.7% FT; Scout- 4 Star Prospect, #59 Overall

When you bring back your entire team and your entire team is made up of 4-star recruits, it’s no surprise that you end up at the top of this list. USC returns 5 former top-100 recruits who played meaningful minutes on last year’s team and most of them are now upperclassmen. McLaughlin will likely be 2nd team all-conference at point guard while Metu and Boatwright are serious contenders for 1st team. Metu won most Pac-12 improved player of the year last season and has played his way into fringe lottery range in predictions for the 2018 NBA Draft. Boatwright was contemplating going pro after his freshman season then decided to come back yet again after an injury caused him to miss substantial time during his sophomore campaign. In addition to those three, DeAnthony Melton led the conference in steals and is a defensive wizard on the perimeter, Shaqquan Aaron is a former 5-star recruit who has settled in as an overqualified role player after a transfer from Louisville, Elijah Stewart scored double digit points as a starter at SF, and Jonah Matthews showed promise in his freshman season at SG. Andy Enfield has the Trojans in position for a conference title and is building something special down in L.A.

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