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Pac-12 Basketball Final Summer Power Rankings

Are the Huskies the favorites to win another regular season conference title?

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve finished the Returners and Newcomer Power Rankings and now it’s time to bring them all home for the Final Summer Power Rankings. The points listed next to each team come from the combined totals of each of the previous rankings. Last year I kept the list in the exact order. But the impact of coaching is nowhere to be found in this analysis nor is team fit, etc. So I’m giving myself the latitude to move a team up or down up to one spot if the numbers don’t seem to fit reality for me.

Finally, I’m including 10 players with 2 at each spot no matter what. My goal was mostly to get the best 5 guys on the floor within reason. David Crisp and Jaylen Nowell were both combo guards for UW last year. It didn’t really matter which was listed as PG or SG. Don’t get bent out of shape about positional designations below for your sanity and mine.

12. California Golden Bears- 35 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: Paris Austin- Sr (11.6 pts, 4.3 ast), Joel Brown- Fr (3 star, #185)

SG: Kareem South- Gr Tr (13.8 pts, 5.1 trb), Juhwan Harris-Dyson- Jr (3.5 pts, 2.0 trb)

SF: Matt Bradley- So (10.8 pts, 47.2% 3pt), Jacobi Gordon- So (2.4 pts, 1.8 trb)

PF: Andre Kelly- So (6.3 pts, 3.7 trb), Lars Thiemann- Fr (2 star)

C: D.J Thorpe- Fr (3 star, #193), Grant Anticevich- Jr (2.7 pts, 2.1 trb)

The more things change the more they stay the same. Cal has a new coach this season in Mark Fox but there’s a good chance they’ll still be in the basement come end of conference play. If the Bears had returned Justice Sueing and Connor Vanover then I’d be optimistic they could crack the middle ranks of the standings but returners Paris Austin, Matt Bradley, and Andre Kelly don’t appear to be enough to make this anything more than a merely bad team. Of course that’s still better than last year’s squad which midway through February appeared to be in the running for worst power conference team of the decade.

There are some reasons for optimism. Fox has a good understanding of market principles. He knows he can’t beat out other Pac-12 teams for premium West Coast recruits that know how bad Cal has been. So instead he went international bringing in a trio of freshmen from around the globe. If at least one of them is able to be good from the jump then this team has 6 Pac-12 win potential (still terrible fyi). But more likely this is another year where any conference win over not Washington State should be considered a bonus.

11. Washington State Cougars- 37 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: Noah Williams- Fr (3 star, #300), Ahmed Ali- Sr (7.3 pts, 2.9 ast)

SG: Marvin Cannon- Jr (7.9 pts, 3.4 trb), Isaac Bonton- Jr (JUCO)

SF: C.J Elleby- So (14.7 pts, 7.1 trb), Jervae Robinson- Sr (4.6 pts, 1.9 ast)

PF: Deion James- Gr Tr (10.4 pts, 5.3 trb), Aljaz Kunc- Jr (2.6 pts, 1.8 trb)

C: Arinze Chidom- Jr (3.3 pts, 3.4 trb), Daron Henson- Jr (JUCO)

Speaking of the Cougars, they also have a new head coach and will have a tough team cracking 10th in this 12 team conference. C.J Elleby is now the guy but we’ll see if he can keep up his efficiency without Robert Franks drawing the defense’s attention. This is a surprisingly veteran bunch with only two underclassmen on the above two deep. Of course part of that is because they have 3 new upperclassmen that are either JUCO players or grad transfers.

Deion James should start at PF from Colorado State and will hopefully provide a little bit of stability in an otherwise unproven big man rotation. Marvin Cannon has potential to be a breakout star. Ahmed Ali and Jervae Robinson were fine and provide solid depth at the guard spot. I’m very high on Noah Williams and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if a year from now Husky fans are questioning not signing him when they had the chance the way many are with C.J Elleby. But even if everything goes right there just isn’t enough raw talent here to have any even moderate expectations for this group.

10. Stanford Cardinal- 45 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: Daejon Davis- Jr (11.4 pts, 4.4 ast), Isaac White- Jr (3.1 pts, 39.3% 3pt)

SG: Tyrell Terry- Fr (4 star, #102), Kodye Pugh- Jr (2.0 pts, 0.9 trb)

SF: Bryce Wills- So (6.0 pts, 3.5 trb), Jaiden Delaire- So (3.8 pts, 2.0 trb)

PF: Oscar Da Silva- Jr (9.5 pts, 6.0 trb), Trevor Stanback- Sr (1.2 pts, 1.5 trb)

C: Lukas Kisunas- So (1.6 pts, 1.8 trb), Keenan Fitzmorris- Fr (3 star, #229)

We come to the first time that I overrule the points system as I vaulted UCLA ahead of Stanford. Jerod Haase has now coached D-1 basketball for 7 seasons and he’s finished between 87 and 163 in KenPom’s efficiency rankings every year. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that this team will be the one to vault him to an NCAA tournament. Especially not with sophomore guard Cormac Ryan transferring out.

I’m high on some of the individual players. Daejon Davis has a lot of talent but needs to make yet another leap in cutting down his turnovers to become an above average Pac-12 point guard. Oscar Da Silva is the obvious breakout candidate without KZ Okpala filling a similar role. Jaiden Delaire had flashes. But recruiting has stagnated a bit in the last few years and I just don’t have confidence that one of the four returners who averaged between 1.2 and 3.1 points last year is going to blossom into a star. And unless that happens the Cardinal will find it tough to reach even an NIT berth.

9. UCLA Bruins- 39 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: Tyger Campbell- Fr (4 star, #89), Jules Bernard- So (7.6 pts, 3.1 trb)

SG: Prince Ali- Sr (9.6 pts, 2.7 trb), David Singleton- So (5.2 pts, 46.7% 3pt)

SF: Chris Smith- Jr (6.3 pts, 3.7 trb), Jaime Jacquez- Fr (4 star, #82)

PF: Cody Riley- So (5.5 pts, 4.1 trb), Shareef O’Neal- Fr (4 star, #40)

C: Jalen Hill- So (4.3 pts, 6.0 trb), Alex Olesinski- Sr (2.3 pts, 2.4 trb)

My inclination is that even 9th is too low for UCLA in year one under Mick Cronin who is a proven winner. But had UCLA not come back against Oregon in a game in which they had a 0.2% chance of winning then they would’ve been part of a 4-way tie for 8th last season. And then they lost their 3 best players to the NBA Draft (although only one actually got drafted).

There’s still plenty of talent left on the roster though. UCLA returns a somewhat astonishing 6 players who averaged between 4 and 10 points last season. All of those guys that averaged 10-25 minutes will see more playing time now and have an easier time buying in to Cronin’s hard minded defensive ethos.

The Bruins had their worst recruiting class in years with the coaching uncertainty but are hoping that will be boosted by the returns of Tyger Campbell and Shareef O’Neal. Each were 4-star prospects a season ago who missed their freshman seasons due to injury and now hopefully return healthy. Campbell in particular will need to be fantastic from day one because otherwise there’s not a clear candidate to distribute the ball. The uncertainty around those two show that while the Bruins have top-5 in the conference potential, they also could drop this low if one or two things go wrong.

8. Utah Utes- 49 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: Rylan Jones- Fr (4 star, #107), Alfonso Plummer- Jr (JUCO)

SG: Both Gach- So (7.7 pts, 2.1 trb), Naseem Gaskin- Fr (3 star, #484)

SF: Timmy Allen- So (12.2 pts, 5.1 trb), Jaxon Brenchley- Fr (3 star, #376)

PF: Branden Carlson- Fr (4 star, #59), Lahat Thioune- Fr (3 star, #274)

C: Riley Battin- So (6.4 pts, 3.4 trb), Mikael Jantunen- Fr (3 star, #202)

Every year Utah looks like they’re going to be in the bottom half of the conference and every year Coach Krystkowiak turns things around. But even he would admit that the Utes lost a lot of talent from last year’s team. 4 of the top 6 scorers for Utah are gone and the two returners are both small forwards. There’s absolutely nothing proven at the point guard position or down low. What Utah is hoping is that a pair of players who return as 20 year old freshman post-LDS mission can play like upperclassmen right out of the game. That would give the team a little stability on a bench made up almost entirely from 3-stars that didn’t play D-1 basketball last year.

7. Oregon State Beavers- 59 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: Ethan Thompson- Jr (13.7 pts, 3.9 ast), Antoine Vernon- So (1.8 pts, 42.9% 3pt)

SG: Alfred Hollins- Jr (4.8 pts, 3.7 trb), Jarod Lucas- Fr (3 star, #295)

SF: Tres Tinkle- Sr (20.8 pts, 8.1 trb), Zach Reichle- Jr (3.5 pts, 2.0 trb)

PF: Payton Dastrup- Jr (3.3 pts, 1.8 trb), Tanner Sanders- Jr (JUCO)

C: Kylor Kelley- Sr (7.7 pts, 3.4 blk), Dearon Tucker- Fr (3 star, #217)

This is the second of my three interventions as I made the Ducks leapfrog Oregon State in the rankings. For the third straight year the Beavers are incredibly top heavy with 3 stars and a load of question marks elsewhere on the roster. The problem is that the loss of Stephen Thompson Jr. appears to be harder to make up for than that of Drew Eubanks the year before. If there’s any chance of this group earning an NIT bid it will be because Payton Dastrup lives up to his former top-100 recruit status coming in as a transfer from BYU.

Otherwise it’s the usual suspects as Tres Tinkle will likely be the best player in the conference, Ethan Thompson will vie for 1st team all Pac-12, and Kylor Kelley has the inside track to defensive player of the year. Those 3 guys are enough to win a lot of games against the bottom half of the conference. But if any of them go down for an extended length of time there is a serious dearth of talent waiting in the wings.

6. Oregon Ducks- 57 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: Payton Pritchard- Sr (12.9 pts, 4.6 ast), Will Johnson- Jr (2 star)

SG: Will Richardson- So (6.0 pts, 2.5 ast), Anthony Mathis- Gr Tr (14.4 pts, 41.6% 3pt)

SF: Shakur Juiston- Gr Tr (10.8 pts, 8.8 trb), Chris Duarte- Jr (JUCO)

PF: C.J Walker- Fr (5 star, #27), Chandler Lawson- Fr (4 star, #88)

C: Francis Okoro- So (3.1 pts, 3.2 trb), Lok Wur- Fr (2 star)

Since I published the Newcomer power rankings, the Ducks added UNLV grad transfer Shakur Juiston. That addition might have leapfrogged them even higher than 6th but for now we’ll leave them here. Juiston missed most of last season with a knee injury but averaged a double double as a junior and gives them more than just a warm body. And Oregon is missing those in general due to a pair of transfers sitting out this season as well as a 4-star freshman taking his LDS mission.

Payton Pritchard became the guy Oregon fans hoped for in the last 6 weeks of the season and if he plays that way all season then this is a surefire tournament team. His ex-HS teammate Anthony Mathis will come in as a grad transfer and supply some shooting alongside former 4 star Will Richardson. Chris Duarte was viewed as the best JUCO player in the country a season ago and could surprise many if he’s able to deal with the step up in competition. Incoming 6’8 freshmen C.J Walker and Chandler Lawson have the pedigree to provide an above average starter and bench player locking down the power forward spot. But Will Johnson is a former walk-on and Lok Wur is a complete unknown and the odds are Oregon will play an 8-man rotation rather than give either serious minutes. That means that the Ducks are in the same spot as Oregon State. An injury to one of their starters and Payton Pritchard in particular would derail their whole season. Then again, I thought the same thing when Bol Bol went down last fall.

5. Arizona State Sun Devils- 61 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: Remy Martin- Jr (12.9 pts, 5.0 ast), Jaelen House- Fr (4 star, #112)

SG: Rob Edwards- Sr (11.1 pts, 37.5% 3pt), Alonzo Verge- Jr (JUCO)

SF: Taeshon Cherry- So (5.9 pts, 2.6 trb), Elias Valtonen- Fr (4 star, #124)

PF: Kimani Lawrence- Jr (8.6 pts, 3.5 trb), Mickey Mitchell- Sr (2.0 pts, 2.7 trb)

C: Romello White- Jr (8.7 pts, 5.2 trb), Khalid Thomas- Jr (JUCO)

Arizona State has finished in the First Four each of the past two seasons and regardless of their Pac-12 finish that looks to be about what I’d expect from this team as well. There’s not a player on the 2-deep above who you would say doesn’t belong on a Pac-12 roster. Every single one is either a former 4-star recruit, top-5 JUCO prospect, or was a reasonably productive Pac-12 player last year. That kind of depth should help them grind out victories in the back end of the conference season. But it isn’t without flaws.

No one outside of the 5 starters has been a productive D-1 player before even though you’d expect several of them to end up as just that. Cherry, Lawrence, and White were good rotation pieces but at least one if not two will need to take their game up a level with greater minutes and become a 13+ points per game scorer. There shouldn’t be much doubt however about the guard combo of Remy Martin and Rob Edwards. They’ll average somewhere between 25-30 points on good efficiency and provide solid leadership for the rest of the roster. That’s enough of a core to build on that I’m bullish on the chances for the fighting Bobby Hurley’s.

4. Colorado Buffaloes- 69 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: McKinley Wright- Jr (13.0 pts, 4.8 ast), Daylen Kountz- Fr (3 star, #402)

SG: Shane Gatling- Sr (9.7 pts, 1.9 trb), Elijah Parquet- Jr (JUCO)

SF: D’Shawn Schwartz- Jr (9.2 pts, 3.7 trb), Maddox Daniels- So (JUCO)

PF: Tyler Bey- Jr (13.6 pts, 9.9 trb), Evan Battey- So (8.1 pts, 4.4 trb)

C: Lucas Siewert- Sr (8.9 pts, 35.2% 3pt), Dallas Walton- So (5.7 pts, 1.1 blk)

I’m fascinated by this Colorado team. They bring back every player who was healthy during the Pac-12 tournament last season and yet will have only two seniors on the roster. Last season when the Huskies brought back all 8 primary rotation players it included 4 seniors and 1 potential NBA early entry candidate. It’s not crazy to think that Colorado will have the same core for three years in a row. And after a decent NIT run in the first of those seasons you can be sure that Buffs fans will be hoping for an NCAA berth this year.

The chances of that will rest largely on the shoulders of juniors McKinley Wright and Tyler Bey who make up perhaps the best guard/big man duo in the conference. Wright is a point guard who can do everything depending on what you need on a given night and Bey might be the best rebounder in the country. Also a part of that big man rotation, Evan Battey is a bowling ball bruiser around the rim, Dallas Walton is a stud returning from an ACL tear, and Lucas Siewert is one of the best shooters in the conference. That should bolster this Colorado team which is much thinner at the guard spots. If none of Kountz, Parquet, or Daniels steps up to become a solid bench contributor then the ceiling of this Colorado team might be an NIT berth. But don’t be shocked if like last year’s Huskies they end up with a #9 seed in the NCAA tournament.

3. USC Trojans- 77 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: Elijah Weaver- So (5.1 pts, 2.4 ast), Quinton Adlesh- Gr Tr (13.5 pts, 37.2% 3pt)

SG: Jonah Matthews- So (12.6 pts, 2.9 trb), Kyle Sturdivant- Fr (3 star, #139)

SF: Daniel Utomi- Gr Tr (14.2 pts, 5.5 trb), Drake London- Fr (3 star, #180)

PF: Isaiah Mobley- Fr (5 star, #19), Max Agbonkpolo- Fr (4 star, #55)

C: Nik Rakocevic- Sr (14.7 pts, 9.3 trb), Onyeka Okongwu- Fr (5 star, #24)

This is the final instance where I’m tinkering with the rankings in order to drop USC down a spot. Why? Maybe because last year’s team was a complete tire fire and the best finish Andy Enfield has had at KenPom in his 8 year coaching tenure is 49th. Once again, as the 2nd place point total shows, the Trojans have as much talent as anyone in the conference. Only 3 players return but 2 of them were essential starters and the 3rd played over 60% of minutes in the final 5 games of the season. Weaver isn’t a true point guard and if there’s a primary concern with the roster set up it’s that no one averaged 3.0 assists per game last season.

Unlike the point guard spot though the Trojans are freaking loaded down low. Nik Rakocevic is a shoe-in for 1st team all-conference and USC is adding a pair of 5-star freshmen to join the big man rotation. Isaiah Mobley is the son of assistant coach Eric and that recruiting tactic hasn’t really paid off for a team in a while. But even if chemistry issues again hurt this team there is enough raw talent and experience in the form of grad transfers Quinton Adlesh and Daniel Utomi to carry this USC team to a bare minimum NIT berth and likely a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

2. Washington Huskies- 72 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: Quade Green- So (8.0 pts, 42.3% 3pt), Elijah Hardy- So (1.2 pts)

SG: Nahziah Carter- Jr (8.1 pts, 2.4 trb), RaeQuan Battle- Fr (4 star, #75)

SF: Jaden McDaniels- Fr (5 star, #8), Jamal Bey- So (1.0 pts, 0.6 trb)

PF: Hameir Wright- Jr (2.8 pts, 1.4 blk), Nate Roberts- Fr (3 star, #249)

C: Isaiah Stewart- Fr (5 star, #3), Sam Timmins- Sr (1.9 pts, 2.2 trb)

Washington’s strategy completely flipped as they went from #1 in the returner rankings to #1 in the newcomer rankings from last summer to this one. Last season’s team relied upon an experienced veteran core built on continuity and will have to adjust to an out-talent everyone strategy this time around. Luckily the pieces are there for that. The 5-star freshman duo of Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels will be among the most unstoppable duos in the country. The starting lineup listed above would give the Huskies 3 players with a 6’11+ wingspan in the Hopkins zone and could provide a stifling back line.

Even with the pair of Stewart and McDaniels, Washington will still need to find additional sources of offense. There are some promising candidates. Naz Carter seems poised to explode after averaging 8 points per game in a supporting role last year. He will likely start the season as the third option and 12+ points should be doable. Kentucky transfer Quade Green gives Washington their best shooter in a while and once eligible at midseason will boost the inside outside potential. The trio of Elijah Hardy, Jamal Bey, and RaeQuan Battle all seem like they could emerge as reliable supporting cast members. Although Hardy may need to be more than that as the starting PG for the non-conference. Finally, the quartet of Hameir Wright, Nate Roberts, Sam Timmins, and Bryan Penn-Johnson provide plenty of big man depth although none appear close to becoming a threat on the offensive end. It will be one of the more interesting camp battles to see who emerges from that group.

Given the upper levels of talent on this roster it would be a major disappointment for the Huskies to not make a 2nd consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. If this season turns sour it will likely be because Jaden McDaniels is still more potential than substance at this point with his skinny frame and the supporting pieces aren’t ready to make a jump. But it seems more likely at this point that Washington will be fighting for a top-4 seed than it does that they’ll be fighting for their tournament lives come early March.

1. Arizona Wildcats- 85 points

Projected 2-Deep

PG: Nico Mannion- Fr (5 star, #9), Max Hazzard- Gr Tr (12.5 pts, 38.7% 3pt)

SG: Brandon Williams- So (11.4 pts, 3.4 ast), Dylan Smith- Jr (7.2 pts, 3.7 trb)

SF: Josh Green- Fr (5 star, #13), Devonaire Doutrive- So (3.3 pts, 3.0 trb)

PF: Zeke Nnaji- Jr (4 star, #39), Ira Lee- Jr (6.6 pts, 4.2 trb)

C: Chase Jeter- Sr (10.9 pts, 6.6 trb), Stone Gettings- Gr Tr (16.7 pts, 36.8% 3pt)

After a one year exile to the bottom half of the conference the Wildcats are back with a vengeance. Sean Miller was up to his usual tricks this summer by bringing in 15 guys at one point before folks at the back end of the roster got the hint and moved on. The final result is a two-deep in which probably 9 of the 10 players would start for half of the Pac-12. Arizona got into the action by adding their own pair of 5-star freshmen with Nico Mannion and Josh Green. Mannion should be the best point guard that Arizona’s had during Sean Miller’s tenure as most of their premium talent have been wings or big men in the past. Green is a slasher/scorer who’s very good at a lot of things but doesn’t have one pure calling card. Meanwhile, Brandon Williams was possibly Arizona’s best player as a freshman last year and instead with Mannion he’ll be relegated to either playing more off the ball or commanding the #2 offense off the bench.

The combo down low of Chase Jeter and Zeke Nnaji gives the Wildcats a pair of tenacious rebounders and a front line that only the top couple teams in the conference will be able to match. Stone Gettings and Max Hazzard come in as grad transfer shooters that can space the floor and knock down the open looks afforded to them with the rest of the talent on the roster. The only way that this Arizona team doesn’t make the NCAA tournament is if more scandal details come out which completely derail the coaching staff and/or the roster with firings or suspensions. That isn’t out of the question by any means and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Arizona hit with a Notice of Allegations in the near future. But from a talent standpoint this roster gets closer to the standard we’ve seen from Miller in the past and anything less than Sweet 16 will likely be a disappointment for Zona fans. Especially since any remaining Wildcat supporters have sold their soul for success this season.

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