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The Pac-12 Basketball Newcomers

Who is each Pac-12 team adding for 2017-18?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kentucky vs Stony Brook Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last 2 weeks we’ve looked at the players that each team in the Pac-12 lost and then the ones that they’re bringing back next season. If you want to check them out, they’re here and here. This week, we’ll conclude this way-too-early conference preview with a look at who each team is adding. The Pac-12 lost a ton of talent to the NBA and graduation last year but they’re adding an impressive haul as well. A full 20 of Scout’s top-100 players for 2017 are headed west to the Pac-12. The SEC mostly behind Kentucky’s ridiculous 8(!) lead the way with 24 followed by the ACC with 14, Big 12 with 12, and Big 10 with 12.

Teams will be ranked in order of least to most impact that their recruiting class will play. Raw numbers are not automatically enough to put a team in 1st place here. Cal and Oregon are essentially fielding an entirely new team but a smaller class that is more talented could beat them out.

12. Washington State Cougars

Incoming Freshmen:

  • SF Roberto Gittens, 6’5”, 215. Tacoma, WA- 4 Star

Incoming Post-Redshirt:

  • PG Milan Acquaah, 6’2”, 185. Los Angeles, CA- 3 Star
  • PF Arinze Chidom, 6’9”, 200. Bel Aire, KS- 2 Star
  • SF Jamar Ergas, 6’3”, 175. Monteverde, FL- 2 Star

Incoming Transfer:

  • PF Drick Bernstine, 6’8”, 220 (Sr) Aurora, CO- Transfer from North Dakota

9.7 points per game, 9.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 49.4% FG, 47.6% FT

  • SF Kwinton Hinson, 6’5”, 175 (Jr.) Las Vegas, NV- Transfer from Tyler JC, Texas
  • C Davante Cooper, 6’11”, 240(Jr.) Garden Grove, CA- Transfer from Tyler JC, Texas

Roberto Gittens is the first 4 star recruit (per Scout) since Klay Thompson to commit to Washington State. That is a big win for Ernie Kent. However, every other school in the conference except Utah has at least two such players coming into their program next year. The poor keep getting poorer. That Tony Bennett could have the success he had in Pullman shows why he’s a top-5 coach in the country in my opinion. Milan Acquaah will share ball handling duties with Malachi Flynn and Drick Bernstine should be a solidifying presence down low. Maybe Ernesto did a fantastic job in talent evaluation and there are several sleepers in the rest of this bunch but things aren’t encouraging for Washington State next year.

11. Washington Huskies

Incoming Freshmen:

  • SG Jaylen Nowell, 6’4”, 185. Seattle, WA- 4 Star, #88 Overall
  • SF Hameir Wright, 6’8”, 205. Albany, NY- 4 Star
  • SG Nahziah Carter, 6’4”, 180. Rochester, NY- 4 Star
  • PG Nate Pryor, 6’1”, 165. Seattle, WA- 2 Star
  • SG Michael Carter III, 6’5”, 180. Seattle, WA- 2 Star

This ranking is going to be poorly received by most Dawg fans but unfortunately Coach Hop’s class just doesn’t quite stack up with most of the conference. This ranking is aimed more towards 2017-18 and not beyond so the lack of a solid grad transfer hurts this rating. Jaylen Nowell has a chance to start from day one and Hameir Wright and Nate Pryor should be a regular part of the rotation. Still, this class lacks the level of immediate impact that can be found elsewhere in the conference. Several people disagree with the recruiting sites’ ranking of Nate Pryor but for the true freshmen that’s all I have to go on and if I’m being objective then he doesn’t compare to other schools whose 4th ranked incoming freshman is still a 4 or at least 3 star player. Not relying on transfers will help the program in the long run but it limits the impact that this class will have from the get go.

10. Utah Utes

Incoming Freshmen:

  • PF Branden Carlson, 6’10”, 210. South Jordan, UT- 4 Star, #59 Overall
  • SF Donnie Tillman, 6’7”, 215. Henderson, NV- 3.5 Star
  • SG Christian PoPoola Jr., 6’4”, 195. Las Vegas, NV- 3 Star
  • PG Jaxon Brenchley, 6’4”, 180. Hyum, UT- 3 Star
  • SF Chris Seeley, 6’6”, 210. Fresno, CA- 3 Star

Incoming Transfer:

  • PG Justin Bibbins, 5’8”, 150 (Sr) Carson, CA- Transfer from Long Beach State

13.1 points per game, 3.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 37.5% 3pt, 88.5% FT

The transfer of Bibbins is a huge get for Utah as they had a severe hole at point guard and Jaxon Brenchley probably isn’t ready right off the bat if Utah has any hope of making the NCAA tournament. He’s a tiny jitterbug on the court and had 17 points when he played the Huskies in the NIT two years ago. PF Branden Carlson is a fantastic pickup but plays the same role as Utah’s 3 best returning players which diminishes the impact he’ll make right away. This is a fairly typical Utah class with a bunch of 3 star guys that will be better in their junior or senior years but won’t be asked to take on too big of a load right now.

9. Oregon State Beavers

Incoming Freshmen:

  • SG Ethan Thompson, 6’5”, 170. Torrance, CA- 4 Star, #48 Overall
  • SF Alfred Hollins, 6’5”, 185. Phoenix, AZ- 4 Star
  • SF Zach Reichle, 6’4”, 185. Wilsonville, OR- 3 Star

Incoming Post-Injury:

  • SF Tres Tinkle, 6’8”, 220 (Jr.)- 20.2 points per game, 8.3 rebounds, 44.4% FG%, 16% 3pt, 77.6% FT

It may be cheating here a little bit to consider Tinkle as an addition but he didn’t play a single conference game last year so he basically redshirted even if he wasn’t actually given one. Tinkle, if fully healthy, should be one of the better players in the conference and gives the Beavers great length on the wing. His shooting was much better his freshman year in a bigger sample size so that 16% 3pt percentage will likely go up to the mid 30’s.

Romar may have gotten flack for his hire of Michael Porter Sr., but the Beavers have been working family connections like no one else. In addition to the head coach’s son mentioned above, the Beavers also have the second son of assistant coach Stephen Thompson Sr. joining the program. Ethan was a consensus top-50 recruit and will probably be the first guard off the bench behind his brother. He could also easily start if they decide to play Tinkle at the 4 position and go with 3 guards. OSU and the next team on the list were both hurt here by the fact that they had relatively few additions (but that helped them on the returners’ rankings).

8. USC Trojans

Incoming Freshmen:

  • SF Chuck O’Bannon Jr., 6’6”, 195. Las Vegas, NV- 4 Star, #71 Overall
  • SF Jordan Usher, 6’6”, 180. Marietta, GA- 4 Star
  • C Victor Uyaelunmo, 6’10”, 210. Fort Lauderdale, FL- 3.5 Star

Incoming Transfer:

  • PG Derryck Thornton Jr., 6’2”, 185 (So.) Los Angeles, CA- Transfer from Duke

7.1 points per game, 1.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 32.5% 3pt, 69% FT

Finally, the Trojans fail to win one of these rankings. They’re still bringing in some serious talent; they just didn’t have very many spaces available. O’Bannon’s stock fell during his senior year as he was viewed as a top-25 guy at one point but is still a very good player. It’s a “what could have been” for Husky fans as he went to high school at Bishop Gorman where the Dawgs now have an in through assistant coach Rice. The other big get was the transfer of Derryck Thornton from Duke. Thornton was a consensus 5 star guy coming out of high school but was outshined by fellow freshmen Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard and decided to transfer back to the West Coast. If he can look anything close to the top-10 prospect he was a couple of years ago then look out. Usher and Uyaelunmo are nice pickups as well but given USC’s returning depth they won’t see any playing time to start. (There is talk that #1 overall player in the 2018 class, Marvin Bagley Jr., is considering reclassifying for this year and USC is a major player. If that happens, and he goes to USC, then they jump several spots on this list.)

7. California Golden Bears

Incoming Freshmen:

  • SF Justice Sueing, 6’6”, 220. Santa Ana, CA- 4 Star
  • SG Juhwan Harris-Dyson, 6’4”, 190. Northridge, CA- 4 Star
  • PG Darius McNeill, 6’1”, 165. Houston, TX- 3 Star
  • PF Grant Anticevich, 6’8”, 210. Brisbane, Australia- 2 Star
  • SG Austin McCullough, 6’5”, 185. Portage, MI- 2 Star
  • PG Deschon Winston, 6’2”, 170. Van Nuys, CA- 2 Star

Incoming Transfer:

  • PF Marcus Lee, 6’10”, 224 (Sr) Antioch, CA- Transfer from Kentucky

6.4 points per game, 6.0 rebounds, 68.0% FG, 40.3% FT

This ranking is mostly an example of quantity over quality. The recruiting haul that the Huskies brought in is fully comparable to the one that Cal did but the Bears had an extra two spots on their roster. Plus, they get to bring in a high impact transfer in Marcus Lee. The former 5 star recruit played his first 3 seasons at Kentucky but has a chance to pick up exactly where Ivan Rabb left off. Sueing and Harris-Dyson are both good wing players that will start right away and follow the type of trajectory that Matisse Thybulle and David Crisp did. Darius McNeill is also likely to start given the dearth of point guards available on the roster. The long-term outlook of the program likely depends on those three players.

6. Colorado Buffaloes

Incoming Freshmen:

  • SF D’Shawn Schwartz, 6’6”, 220. Colorado Springs, CO- 4 Star, #86 Overall
  • PF Evan Battey, 6’7”, 280. Villa Park, CA- 4 Star
  • SF Tyler Bey, 6’7”, 200. Studio City, CA- 4 Star
  • PG McKinley Wright, 6’0”, 180. Champlin, MN- 3 Star
  • SG Lazar Nikolic, 6’6”, 200. Bologna, Italy- 2 Star

Incoming Post-Redshirt:

  • PF Dallas Walton, 6’7”, 185. Arvada, CO- 2 Star
  • SF Alexander Strating, 6’9”, 195. Wassenaar, Netherlands- 2 Star

Colorado is on the same quantity over quality plan that Cal is but they have a slightly better class despite not having the impact transfer of Lee. Colorado has made a living out of having undersized wings who are great rebounders for their size and they picked up another 3 of them headlined by D’Shawn Schwartz. Colorado will likely be playing a little bit undersized on the interior but have a number of different 6’6” or 6’7” guys now that they can throw out there in waves.

5. Arizona State Sun Devils

Incoming Freshmen:

  • SF Kimani Lawrence, 6’6”, 185. New Hampton, NH- 4 Star, #56 Overall
  • PG Remy Martin, 6’0”, 170. Chatsworth, CA- 4 Star, #76 Overall

Incoming Post-Redshirt:

  • PF Romello White, 6’9”, 220. Brandenton, FL- 4 Star, #81 Overall
  • PF Vitaliy Shibel, 6’9”, 195. Lee, ME- 3 Star

Incoming Transfer:

  • SF Mickey Mitchell, 6’7”, 232 (So.) Plano, TX- Transfer from Ohio State

2.0 points per game, 2.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 35.4% FG, 52.2% FT

The Sun Devils interior depth will improve this season as they hope to get back two big men from last year’s freshman class that redshirted in Romello White and Vitaliy Shibel. White took an academic redshirt while Shibel is coming off of an ACL tear last August but should be good to go by the start of the season. Mitchell made the decision to transfer from Ohio State last December and will be eligible in time for conference play. He struggled in his freshman season with the Buckeyes but has plenty of potential. Finally, both incoming freshmen were Scout top-100 recruits and have the chance to make an instant impact. Shannon Evans II and Kodi Justice will probably still start at PG and SF respectively but the Sun Devils were so thin last year that it should help everyone now that the starters aren’t required to play 36 minutes per game anymore. It should be noted that Arizona State has an additional 3 players transferring into the program (including former Jayhawk Carlton Bragg) but they will all be required to take a redshirt year.

4. Stanford Cardinal

Incoming Freshmen:

  • SF Kezie Okpala, 6’8”, 195. Anaheim, CA- 5 Star, #27 Overall
  • SG Daejon Davis, 6’3”, 175. Seattle, WA- 4 Star, #39 Overall
  • PF Oscar Da Silva, 6’9”, 210. Anbsach, Germany- 4 Star
  • SG Isaac White, 6’1”, 185. Somerton, Australia- 2 Star

Incoming Post-Redshirt:

  • SF Kodye Pugh, 6’7”, 190. Blairstown, NJ- 4 Star, #92 Overall

The Cardinal are adding a tremendous amount of talent on the wing. Kezie Okpala grew 8 inches in the past 2 years and so has guard skills in the body of a forward. Obviously, Husky fans are disappointed to see Daejon Davis’s name above but he will contend for instant playing time at both guard spots where Stanford lost the most talent last season. Pugh is the quality of player that normally doesn’t redshirt unless due to injury but they get a 4 star guy to come in now who has already been practicing with the team for a year. A pair of international prospects round out the class in Da Silva and White where scouting is much less available so we’ll see whether or not they are able to make an early contribution.

3. Oregon Ducks

Incoming Freshmen:

  • SF Troy Brown Jr., 6’6”, 185. Las Vegas, NV- 5 Star, #13 Overall
  • SG V.J Bailey, 6’4”, 170. Austin, TX- 4 Star, #100 Overall
  • C Kenny Wooten, 6’8”, 205. Las Vegas, NV- 4 Star
  • SF Abu Kigab, 6’6”, 215. Napa, CA- 4 Star

Incoming Post-Redshirt:

  • C M.J Cage, 6’9”, 225. Santa Ana, CA- 3.5 Star, #76 Overall

Incoming Transfer:

  • PF Paul White, 6’9”, 235 (Jr.) Chicago, IL- Transfer from Georgetown

1.6 points per game, 1.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 38.5% FG, 50% FT

  • SG Elijah Brown, 6’4”, 200 (Sr.) Orange County, CA- Transfer from New Mexico

18.8 points per game, 5.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 37.9% FG, 82.7% FT

  • SF MiKyle McIntosh, 6’7”, 232 (Sr.) Pickering, OH- Transfer from Illinois State

12.5 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 41.0% FG, 76.3% FT

There’s a pretty sizable chasm between Stanford and Oregon to separate 4th from 3rd place here. Oregon on their recent run hasn’t relied on one and done talent but they’re getting their first in Troy Brown Jr. The SF out of Las Vegas is viewed as a potential lottery pick and will be one of the better players in the conference this season. The other 3 freshmen are all capable of playing right away and one of them will probably start although it’s too soon to tell which one. The Ducks also get a solid member of last season’s recruiting class back in Michael Cage Jr. who missed last year due to injury.

More so than any other in the conference, whether the Ducks have any hope of making it back to the Final 4 depends on transfers. The football team has tried this with Vernon Adams and Dakota Prukop with inconsistent results so we’ll see how the basketball team handles it. Paul White was a top-100 recruit coming out of high school who lost favor with the Georgetown coaching staff and sat out last year due to transfer rules. Elijah Brown and MiKyle McIntosh are both grad transfers who played significant roles for their teams. Brown was 2nd in the Mountain West in scoring and was 2nd-team all-conference, although he was incredibly inefficient and posted those numbers due to Kobe Bryant-esque levels of ball hogging. McIntosh was a solid starter for a surprisingly good Redbirds team. The Ducks have 4 open starting spots at the moment and it will be fascinating to see how Dana Altman is able to integrate 9 new players and try not to take a few steps back.

2. Arizona Wildcats

Incoming Freshmen:

  • C DeAndre Ayton, 7’0”, 245. Phoenix, AZ- 5 Star, #1 Overall
  • SF Emmanuel Akot, 6’7”, 190. Mt Pleasant, UT- 5 Star, #19 Overall
  • SG Brandon Randolph, 6’5”, 175. Westtown, PA- 4 Star, #35 Overall
  • PF Ira Lee, 6’7”, 220. Santa Monica, CA- 4 Star, #81 Overall
  • PG Alex Barcello, 6’2”, 170. Tempe, AZ- 4 Star, #91 Overall

Incoming Transfer:

  • SG Dylan Smith, 6’5”, 170 (So.) Mobile, AL- Transfer from UNC Asheville

13.5 points per game, 2.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 36.9% FG, 82.2% FT

  • SF Talbott Denny, 6’5”, 215 (Sr.) Tucson, AZ- Transfer from Lipscomb

5.9 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 51.3% FG, 61.3% FT

That incoming freshmen list shows you why Sean Miller wouldn’t have hired Lorenzo Romar if he didn’t think the ex-Huskies coach could contribute in an area other than recruiting. Because Arizona is absolutely rolling in recruiting and this year they bring in Scout’s #1 overall player (they recently elevated him above Michael Porter Jr.) in 7-footer DeAndre Ayton. Ayton is essentially what Dwight Howard would’ve looked like if he’d played in college only with a more well-rounded game and he should dominate the Pac-12 in his one season in Tucson. The Wildcats add a top-100 player at every single position. That means they have elite depth basically across the board. If the Wildcats can’t make a Final 4 with this incoming talent plus their existing core then they may never do it.

Arizona also has 2 transfers that are newly eligible to play but I’m not sure if they’ll really see the court. Dylan Smith put up very good numbers at UNC Asheville in his freshman season and now has 3 years of eligibility left. Talbott Denny is from Tucson and came back to be the 13th man for his hometown team, redshirted a year, then promptly tore his ACL but has been granted a 6th year for this season.

1. UCLA Bruins

Incoming Freshmen:

  • SF Kris Wilkes, 6’8”, 190. Indianapolis, IN- 5 Star, #17 Overall
  • PG Jaylen Hands, 6’2”, 170. El Cajon, CA- 5 Star, #26 Overall
  • PF Cody Riley, 6’7”, 250. Chatsworth, CA- 4 Star, #32 Overall
  • C Jalen Hill, 6’8”, 200. Corona, CA- 4 Star, #98 Overall
  • PF Chris Smith, 6’8”, 190. Huntington, WV- 3.5 Star
  • SF LiAngelo Ball, 6’6”, 220. Chino Hills, CA- 3 Star

Incoming Post-Redshirt:

  • SG Prince Ali, 6’3”, 190 (So.) Weston, FL- 4 Star, #41 Overall

3.9 points per game, 1.1 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 30% 3pt, 56.8% FT

  • PF Alex Olesinski, 6’8”, 195. La Porte, IN- 3 Star

1.2 points per game, 2.0 rebounds, 26.9% FG, 65% FT

The Bruins and Arizona actually tied for first in my pseudo-scientific system but I’m giving UCLA the tiebreaker because I think there are more opportunities for immediate playing time in Westwood. Prince Ali was viewed as a very good player before tearing his meniscus last summer and ultimately deciding to redshirt rather than potentially coming back right at the end of the year. He should be fully healthy and ready to contribute at probably the weakest spot on the roster. Olesinski will provide depth inside after missing last season with a stress fracture in his foot and redshirting.

UCLA doesn’t have anyone with quite the pro potential of Lonzo Ball from last year’s class but they do have three players that are in legitimate “one and done” range in the rankings. Kris Wilkes is a very long wing player that needs to improve his shot but can hurt you in several different ways. Jaylen Hands will unfairly be compared to Lonzo Ball as another 5 star PG but Hands is more of a combo guard than a pure passer. Expect him to start alongside Aaron Holiday where both have the ability to play on or off the ball. Riley is the least likely to turn pro early as he is closer to Jon Brockman than T.J Leaf and uses strength and awareness to rebound rather than athleticism. LiAngelo Ball will probably get a disproportionate percentage of headlines due to his last name but he is nowhere close to the player his older brother is and expectations should be low.


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