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Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day Recap

Pac-12 preseason media poll, all-conference teams, a new non-conference series, and more

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

This morning was Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day and here’s everything you need to know about what was said and released at the event.

Pac-12 Preseason Media Poll

Last season Oregon was ranked as the #1 team in the conference and the Huskies came in at #3 overall. I think that Washington was ok with how things ended up. In fact, there has been surprisingly little change in the perceived pecking order of the conference from last year to this one. 5 teams finished in the exact same spot in the preseason poll while 4 more were within one spot. The only significant changes were Colorado (7th to 2nd) and Oregon State (10th to 7th) taking leaps up while UCLA plummeted (2nd to 8th).

While I’m sure there are many Husky fans that would like to see a “king stay the king” mindset from the voters, these results seem more than fair. Washington lost a ton of talent from last season and while they’re bringing a heavy amount of talent as well, it’s still technically unproven. Oregon lost just as much but return their senior all-conference point guard and Dana Altman has a longer track record than Mike Hopkins. Colorado is this year’s Washington as they bring back essentially their whole roster from a fringe bubble team with two stars in Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright IV. Given the distribution of 1st place votes it’s clear that voters feel those 3 teams (plus maybe Arizona) represent the top tier of the conference.

Arizona would have been in contention for the top spot in the rankings had they not lost PG Brandon Williams for the season with a knee injury. USC and ASU are the enigmas of the conference as they have plenty of talent but haven’t yet been able to turn it into more than a barely tournament team in recent seasons. This is the last chance for Oregon State to make a run with seemingly ageless star Tres Tinkle while UCLA has to deal with a new coach and a largely new roster. Coach K at Utah is one of the best coaches in the conference but this roster doesn’t look ready to contend for much and Stanford, Washington State, and Cal clearly have the least talent in the Pac.

Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Teams

I will never understand why the Pac-12 has a 10-person 1st team. It is an affront to basketball. Nonetheless, it ensures that both Husky 5-star freshmen Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels are officially preseason 1st-team all-conference players. That ties Washington with Colorado as the only schools with multiple players on the list. If the conference actually separated them into 1st and 2nd teams I would expect it to have the following split:

1st- Payton Pritchard, McKinley Wright IV, Nico Mannion, Tres Tinkle, Isaiah Stewart

2nd- Remy Martin, CJ Elleby, Jaden McDaniels, Tyler Bey, Nick Rakocevic.

But they’ll never tell us that.

There were no Washington representatives on the preseason second team which is actually the preseason third team. However, a pair of Huskies qualified as honorable mentions: Nahziah Carter and Quade Green. Washington is still waiting to find out whether the waiver will be approved for Green to become immediately eligible or if they will be without him for the first 10 games of the season.

Here are the totals for how many players from each team ended up across the 1st team, 2nd team, and honorable mentions:

4- Washington (2 1st, 2 HM)

3- Arizona (1st, 2nd, HM), Oregon (1st, 2nd, HM), Oregon State (1st, 2nd, HM), USC (1st, 2 HM)

2- Colorado (2 1st)

1- Arizona State (1st), Washington State (1st), Utah (2nd)

0- UCLA, California

Coast-to-Coast Challenge

The Pac-12 will begin a new Coast-to-Coast Challenge non-conference series in which 3 teams will play neutral site games in Las Vegas, Nevada and then play return games the following year in a neutral site closer to their opponents. The Huskies are part of this first round as they will play Oklahoma next season and then will play a return game the following year in Dallas. Oregon and Colorado are also participating against Big 12 opponents.

The following year Arizona, Arizona State, and UCLA will play a similar series with the return game taking place in New York City against unnamed power conference opponents. This is a nice first step to provide a reliable way for the conference’s best teams to secure a quality non-conference game while the Pac-12 is shut out from any cross conference challenges.

Coach Hopkins at the Podium

And if you don’t want my notes or the video then here’s the transcript.

  • Hopkins is optimistic that the Pac-12 will have more success this season with the amount of talent that has been infused during the off-season.
  • Jaden has really impressed with his basketball IQ and his ability to make the players around him better.
  • Italy really helped to develop chemistry for such a young roster and give everyone close to equal minutes. The coaching staff played some man-to-man because they’re willing to alter the defense to fit the roster in spurts as a change up.
  • Very happy that they’re able to get back-to-back games in great locations in Vegas and Dallas is huge since it’s so hard to find games in scheduling.
  • Still waiting for an answer on a waiver for Quade Green but he’s still practicing. Elijah and Marcus both offer different things if Quade is out. Hardy is a bulldog man-to-man defender and Tsohonis can run the offense like a grizzled veteran.
  • Wants the team to be known for how hard they play and that they play for something bigger than themselves.
  • Quade and Battle are both plus shooters but feels with the infusion of length and athleticism that this team has a chance to be even better defensively if everything comes together.
  • Hopkins understands that it’s hard to recruit if you only play 7-8 guys so he’s going to challenge himself to open up the rotation a little more this year.
  • A bit of a cop out answer on the Fair Pay to Play bill citing that he hasn’t done enough research on it to have a fully formed opinion.