If you missed last week’s article ranking the Pac-12 MBB squads by their returning players then you can find it right here. This week we’ll be looking at the new players teams have brought in. This includes anyone who is a new addition to the roster or who didn’t see at least 40 minutes of playing time last season which counts under the redshirt category. We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get going.
12. Utah Utes- 2 points
Total Newcomers: 5 (True Freshmen- 3, JUCO- 1, Redshirts- 1, Transfers- 0)
Key Newcomers: SG Ian Martinez (4*, #112 overall), SF Norbert Thelissen (3*, #187 overall), CG Pelle Larsson (3*, #194 overall)
The clear gem of this recruiting class is Ian Martinez who also had offers from the Arizona schools and USC coming out of JSerra. Otherwise it’s a somewhat underwhelming bunch including a pair of international wings from the back half of the top-200. The Utes were 3rd in my returners rankings as they really only lost one rotation player and expect Martinez to fill that spot. Otherwise, I don’t see the rest of the bunch getting much playing time.
11. Washington State Cougars- 6 points
Total Newcomers: 6 (True Freshmen- 6, JUCO- 0, Transfers- 0, Redshirts- 0)
Key Newcomers: SF Andrei Jakimovsky (4*, #111 overall), SF Carlos Rosario (4*, #127 overall), C Dishon Jackson (3*, #198 overall)
Yes, I have the Cougars ranked in the bottom-2 for both the newcomers and returners categories which doesn’t seem great but hear me out. For years the Cougars have tried to patch things over by going after JUCO guys while simultaneously being unable to get above average freshman talent more than once every few years. It’s seemingly a rule that there can only be one actually good player in their prime on campus at a time (Klay Thompson, Brock Motum, Josh Hawkinson, Robert Franks, C.J Elleby). If Kyle Smith is going to be the next incarnation of Tony Bennett in Pullman then this class will be the reason.
Washington State has a pair of 4-star freshmen in small forwards Andrei Jakimovsky and Carlos Rosario. They are the first 4-star freshmen the Cougs have had since...Klay Thompson. Suffice to say this is the best recruiting class they’ve had in a long time. It’s still rare to find instant impact freshmen outside of the top-100 overall but there are enough guys in the 100-200 range to think that in 2-3 years this will be a dangerous group.
10. UCLA Bruins- 8 Points
Total Newcomers: 3 (True Freshmen- 1, Transfers- 1, Redshirts- 1, JUCO- 0)
Key Newcomers: SF Johnny Juzang (Kentucky Transfer- 2.9 pts), SG Jaylen Clark (4*, #115 overall), C Kenny Nwuba (Redshirt)
This could have been a much more highly ranked class except that PG Daishen Nix decided to take the money and go straight to the G League rather than head to Westwood. This is still a solid incoming group for the Bruins though. Johnny Juzang was the latest in the long line of highly rated West coast guys chewed up and spit out by Kentucky/Duke who transfer back to the Pac-12. He got sporadic time at Kentucky but was definitely a rotation guy and should instantly see the floor. Clark is a fringe 4-star guy but given the logjam at UCLA he may need to wait a year to see the floor. Nwuba was a lower level recruit than UCLA is used to seeing but after a redshirt year he’ll be called upon as the frontline is the clear weakness in their rotation.
t-8. California Golden Bears- 16 Points
Total Newcomers: 5 (Transfers- 3, True Freshmen- 2, Redshirts- 0, JUCO- 0)
Key Newcomers: PG Makale Foreman (Stony Brook Grad Transfer- 15.6 pts), SG Ryan Betley (Penn Grad Transfer- 11.6 pts), SF Monty Bowser (4*, #116 overall)
Cal lost its starting backcourt to graduation last year and will likely have the same thing happen again after bringing in the grad transfer duo of Foreman and Betley. Both put up numbers at smaller schools but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should expect similar success now that they’re in the Pac-12. Still, having two veterans as your primary ball handlers with a roster laden with sophomores should raise the floor this season. The biggest pickup though long-term is local SF Monty Bowser who may never be a star but should be a productive wing player which is a must in the modern game. Cal also added a pair of shooting guards in Fresno State transfer Jared Hyder and true freshman low 3-star Jalen Celestine.
t-8. Oregon State Beavers- 16 points
Total Newcomers: 6 (JUCO- 3, True Freshmen- 1, Transfers- 1, Redshirts- 1)
Key Newcomers: SG Tariq Silver (JUCO- 12.1 pts), PF Rodrigue Andela (JUCO- 12.4 pts), PF Isaiah Johnson (3*, #403 overall)
Oregon State has officially transitioned back to the role of scrounging around for table scraps. They bring in 3 JUCO players and their only true freshman was outside of the top-400 in the 247Sports Composite. If there’s a potential bright spot it’s with JUCO transfer Tariq Silver who shot 46% on 3-pointers last year and could give the Beavers a scoring lift off the bench. But considering the only players on the roster taller than 6’6 played a combined 265 minutes of D1 basketball last year you can consider me slightly underwhelmed with the frontcourt options.
7. Colorado Buffaloes- 17 points
Total Newcomers: 6 (True Freshmen- 4, Transfers- 1, Redshirts- 1, JUCO- 0)
Key Newcomers: SF/PF Jeriah Horne (Tulsa Transfer- 11.1 pts), SG Dominique Clifford (4*, #110 overall), PF Jabari Walker (3*, #160 overall)
This is a very solid class for Colorado that welcomes in a few guys that look like they should be nice 3-4 year contributors plus an instant impact transfer. The biggest short-term addition is Jeriah Horne who put up an 11 and 5 at Tulsa last year and started his career at Nebraska. He should slot in as the replacement at PF for Tyler Bey and be able to replicate maybe 80-85% of the production. Clifford will get the chance to be the starting shooting guard as an athletic, long player that went from no out-of-state power conference offers to 4-star status over the course of his senior year.
6. Stanford Cardinal- 25 Points
Total Newcomers: 6 (True Freshmen- 5, Redshirts- 1, JUCO- 0, Transfers- 0)
Key Newcomers: SF Ziaire Williams (5*, #6 overall), PG Michael O’Connell (4*, #100 overall), PF Max Murrell (3*, #134 overall)
This is a really strong group for Stanford who also finished 1st in my returner power rankings. Williams is the crown jewel and the 2nd highest ranked player joining the conference (also 4th highest overall among those actually going to college). He’s got a little Jaden McDaniels to his game as a lean combo forward that isn’t quite as good a 3-pt shooter as you like but has shown the ability to create off the dribble and play great defense. Stanford certainly hopes that Williams shows better shot selection/decision making than McDaniels.
In addition to Williams there are also 4 players placed between 100 and 227 in the composite rankings who all look to be multi-year D1 players and give the Cardinal solid depth in the years to come. The 6’2 PG O’Connell may be the most likely of the rest to see time as Stanford tries to replace Tyrell Terry’s minutes. Interestingly enough he was originally slotted to play Maryland lacrosse before switching course and deciding to pursue basketball at Stanford. There’s also center Keenan Fitzmorris who gets counted as a newcomer after playing just 25 minutes over his first two seasons in Palo Alto.
5. Washington Huskies-33 Points
Total Newcomers: 5 (Transfers- 2, Redshirts- 2, JUCO- 1, True Freshmen- 0)
Key Newcomers: SG Erik Stevenson (Wichita State transfer- 11.1 pts), PF J’Raan Brooks (USC Transfer 4*, #83 overall 2018), PG Nate Pryor (JUCO- 16.8 pts)
It’s not often you see a team with 0 true freshman who ends up this high but that’s how the system broke things down. The Huskies are bringing in 4 players with previous college basketball experience with 3 coming at the D1 level and one of those, J’Raan Brooks, who was on the Husky roster last year but redshirted. The biggest get is likely Stevenson who was the lead guard on a Wichita State team last year that was projected as an 11-seed if there had been an NCAA tournament despite clear internal dysfunction. The counting stats aren’t quite there because no one played more than 65% of minutes for the Shockers. Despite adding someone comfortable taking big shots, Stevenson also put up fantastic advanced defensive stats and tied Jamal Bey in steal percentage last year.
Brooks was highly rated as a combo forward when he chose USC but didn’t get much run in L.A so we’ll see how he looks now. Cole Bajema was a highly ranked sniper before heading to Michigan and again hardly saw the court outside of garbage time as a true freshman. Both should be viewed as more of question marks with high upside until we see them in purple and gold. Then we have Nate Pryor who finally got eligible after 2 years at North Idaho College where he averaged nearly 17 points per game on 35% 3-pt shooting and he should at the least be a reliable bench point guard option. Finally, we have 7’3 center Riley Sorn who’s expected to be on scholarship this year after joining as a PWO at UW over a scholarship offer from Saint Mary’s coming out of high school.
4. Arizona State Sun Devils- 49 Points
Total Newcomers: 6 (True Freshmen- 3, Transfers- 2, JUCO- 1, Redshirts- 0)
Key Newcomers: SG Josh Christopher (5*, #12 overall), PF Marcus Bagley (4*, #29 overall), SG Luther Muhammad (Ohio State Transfer- 7.0 pts)
This is the highest rated class in the conference on an average per recruit basis as Bobby Hurley brought in some of the best players on the West Coast. Josh Christopher is the headliner after he spurned Michigan at the last second to head to Tempe. He averaged 21 points and 6 assists per game as a junior playing in the Nike EYBL and should slot in immediately next to Remy Martin in the starting lineup. ASU also has Marcus Bagley (younger brother of former Duke star Marvin) who isn’t quite the player his brother was but should also see the court right away.
The backup guard spots are likely to be filled by a pair of transfers. Ohio State’s Luther Muhammad played substantial minutes for a really good Buckeyes team last year and while he hasn’t quite lived up to his pedigree he’s been solid. ASU also brings in Portland State’s PG Holland Woods as a grad transfer a year removed from averaging 17.7 points and 5.2 assists per game. And on top of all that there’s also a JUCO center coming in to solidify the front court depth and a 4-star forward from Ukraine who might be looking at a redshirt with the team’s existing depth.
3. USC Trojans- 50 Points
Total Newcomers: 8 (Transfers- 5, True Freshmen- 2, Redshirts- 1, JUCO- 0)
Key Newcomers: C Evan Mobley (5*, #3 overall), PF Isaiah White (Utah Valley Transfer- 14.5 pts, 8.4 reb), SG Noah Baumann (San Jose State Transfer- 46% 3pt)
Husky fans have often lamented that when they’ve brought in elite true freshman talent that there wasn’t a veteran core surrounding it. Well the Trojans have tried to ensure a veteran squad by bringing in 5 new upperclassmen for a team that otherwise would have had 0 after years of transfers and draft defections. That elite talent I’m referring to is Evan Mobley who was the #1 player in the 2020 class for much of his career before ending up 3rd overall. He should at a minimum be able to replace what Onyeka Okongwu gave them last year (16 pts, 9 rbd, 3 blk).
It’s unclear exactly how much talent there is with everyone else Andy Enfield brought in. Noah Baumann redshirted last season after transferring from San Jose State and is one of the best shooters in the country at 6’6 (career 45.8% 3pt). However, only one of the 5 D1 transfers that USC has brought in averaged at least 12 points per game at their previous stops from schools like Rice, Santa Clara, and Wofford. It seems like a stretch to expect them to blossom into stars the Pac-12. Still, it’s an influx of at the very least depth talent that should be able to thrive in supporting roles for a team built around the Mobley brothers.
2. Oregon Ducks- 51 Points
Total Newcomers: 8 (Redshirts- 4, Transfers- 3, True Freshmen- 1, JUCO- 0)
Key Newcomers: PF Eugene Omoruyi (Rutgers Transfer- 13.8 pts, 7.8 rbd), PG Amauri Hardy (UNLV Transfer- 14.3 pts), PG Jalen Terry (4*, #73 overall)
Oregon is seemingly a perennial fixture near the top of these rankings given their combination of recruiting acumen and high turnover. Almost all of it comes from transfers this season. The lone true freshman is 4-star PG Jalen Terry who will have a chance to challenge for the right to succeed Payton Pritchard at that spot for Oregon. The other contender for that spot is 6’2 UNLV grad transfer Amauri Hardy who is more of a combo guard but has plenty of experience as a 2-year starter from the Mountain West.
The Ducks had a pair of their transfers last year fail to get waivers and now have a chance to step into the spotlight. Eugene Omoruyi was one of the better bigs in the B1G 2 years ago for Rutgers and should be a starter in his final go round. Meanwhile, Eric Williams Jr. has 2 years of eligibility left and put up similar numbers just a level down at Duquesne. SF L.J Figueroa comes in as an excellent scorer from St. John’s and PG Aaron Estrada averaged 8 points off the bench as a freshman at St. Peter’s. The final 2 spots come from Lok Wur and Will Johnson who didn’t crack the rotation a year ago as lightly recruited depth pieces. Still, add it all up and that’s a talented Oregon group yet again.
1. Arizona Wildcats- 66 Points
Total Newcomers: 9 (True Freshmen- 7, Transfers- 2, Redshirts- 0, JUCO- 0)
Key Newcomers: PG Terrell Brown (Seattle Transfer- 20.7 pts, 4.9 ast), PG James Akinjo (Georgetown Transfer- 13.4 pts, 4.4 ast), SF Dalen Terry (4*, #49 overall)
It may not be a surprise to see Arizona atop these rankings but the way they got here certainly is. The Wildcats brought in 7 true freshmen and 6 of them are international prospects. Sean Miller secured commitments from players from Lithuania (2x), Estonia, France, Mexico, and Turkey. Luckily he speaks an internationally understood language ($$$) which should help in practices. 4 of the 6 foreign players finished in the top-125 of the composite rankings but there have obviously been fewer scouting opportunities to know how good that compilation really is.
To supplement all of those freshmen are a pair of veteran ball handlers, one of whom should be very familiar to Husky fans. Terrell Brown scored 21 points and 7 rebounds in Washington’s win over Seattle U this year and put up huge numbers while dominating the ball for the Redhawks. We’ll see if he can adjust to more of a supporting role in Tucson. Meanwhile, James Akinjo was one of the top point guards on the West Coast a few years ago and is back after abandoning the Georgetown ship. He’s got a ton of talent but had dreadful shooting numbers in limited time last year. Finally, the highest ranked true freshman is 6’6 Dalen Terry who is extremely long and an above average passer off the wing.
Next week we put it all together with my final combined power rankings before practices start up soon and games begin in under 2 months.