Now it’s time to put it all together.
Last week we looked at the newcomer power rankings and two weeks ago we examined the returner power rankings. Let’s add it together to figure out the potential hierarchy in the Pac-12 this upcoming season.
A few notes first though. I have what my projected depth chart is for each team. Not every player will fit perfectly into one of the traditional 5 positions. The first name in each category is who I think will be the starter and then for the 5 bench positions I did my best. Some teams may run a 4-guard starting lineup and have 3 big men that rotate off the bench. In this way of listing things out, one of the starting guards is a power forward and one of the bench bigs is a small forward. If you quibble with that in the comments I will ignore the rest of what you say.
I’m also assuming that every transfer is ultimately granted a waiver unless we’ve directly heard otherwise. That means I’m expecting Washington to have access to Erik Stevenson and Cole Bajema and I’m also planning on the other transfers throughout the rest of the conference being able to play.
12. Washington State Cougars- 9 Points
PG- 6’3 Isaac Bonton (15.3 pts, 4.0 ast), 6’5 Ryan Rapp (1.6 pts)
SG- 6’5 Noah Williams (6.2 pts, 3.5 rbd), 6’6 D.J Rodman (1.7 pts)
SF- 6’6 Tony Miller (7.7 pts, 3.3 rbd), 6’7 Carlos Rosario (4*, #127 overall)
PF- 6’8 Aljaz Kunc (4.5 pts, 3.2 rbd), 6’7 Andrej Jakimovski (4*, #111 overall)
C- 6’9 Dishon Jackson (3-star, #198 overall), 7’1 Volodomyr Markovetskyy (2.1 pts)
I think Kyle Smith is going to end up being a really good coach for Washington State. However, this team is still 2 years away from having a real shot at contention. C.J Elleby was the heart and soul of last year’s team which still only went 6-12 in conference despite an upset win over Oregon and a sweep of the Huskies. Without him it leaves Isaac Bonton as the lone double digit scorer returning and that’s not a good thing. He’s the definition of a volume scorer and averaged 3.6 turnovers per game. Bonton leading the show pretty much guarantees an inefficient offense without someone else breaking out in a big way.
The Cougars have a couple of nice underclassmen that I think will end up coalescing into a good team. But it isn’t this year. This team isn’t as bad as the worst teams in the Ernie Kent era but they’re not going to be good by any means.
11. California Golden Bears- 39 Points
SG- 6’4 Matt Bradley (17.5 pts, 4.9 rbd), 6’6 Dimitrious Klonaras (0.7 pts)
SF- 6’5 Ryan Betley (Yale transfer), 6’6 Monty Bowser (4*, #116 overall)
PF- 6’8 Grant Anticevich (8.3 pts, 5.6 rbd), 6’8 D.J Thorpe (1.6 pts)
It feels like it’s been about 5 years in a row that Wazzu and Cal have had the bottom two spots locked down in some order. However, this Cal team seems to have much bigger upside than some of the past editions. Matt Bradley is a legitimate offensive star. He’s a phenomenal shooter and will have a decent shot to lead the conference in scoring this year. The big question is going to be how the pair of transfers end up fairing. Each were double digit scorers at smaller schools last year and if they can become above average starters at the Pac-12 level then this team becomes extremely dangerous. If they’re overmatched by the step up in competition then it may be another long season. I have Monty Bowser listed as a backup to start the season but don’t be surprised if he ends up being a fixture in closing lineups.
t-9. Oregon State Beavers- 40 Points
PG- 6’5 Ethan Thompson (14.8 pts, 4.5 ast), 6’3 Jarod Lucas (4.6 pts)
SG- 6’3 Gianni Hunt (2.8 pts), 6’5 Tariq Silver (3* JUCO Transfer)
SF- 6’5 Zack Reichle (7.9 pts, 3.3 rbd), 6’6 Isaiah Johnson (3*, #403 overall)
PF- 6’6 Alfred Hollins (5.2 pts, 3.0 rbd), 6’8 Rodrigue Andela (3* JUCO Transfer)
C- 7’1 Roman Silva (1.9 pts, 1.2 rbd), 6’10 Dearon Tucker (0.6 pts)
The Beavers tie for 9th but I could see them finishing as far down as last place depending on how things pan out. Ethan Thompson is a senior and a very good player who has consecutive seasons averaging approximately 14/4/4 on 34% 3pt shooting. He’s a good player but he’s not a transcendent one. And now he’s finally without both his older brother and the immortal Tres Tinkle. There’s a solid amount of wing talent on this team and as you can see based on the projected starters above, I think OSU will go with essentially 4 perimeter players around a single rim protector. That’s partly because all of the frontcourt players are completely unproven. If Ethan is able to make a leap and become a bonafide superstar then this team is intriguing but otherwise I think they have a pretty low ceiling.
t-9. Utah Utes- 40 Points
PG- 6’0 Rylan Jones (9.6 pts, 4.5 ast), 6’5 Pelle Larsson (3*, #194 overall)
SG- 6’1 Alfonso Plummer (8.4 pts), 6’5 Jaxon Brenchley (4.2 pts)
SF- 6’3 Ian Martinez (4*, #112 overall), 6’8 Mikael Jantunen (6.7 pts, 4.9 rbd)
PF- 6’6 Timmy Allen (17.3 pts, 7.3 rbd), 6’9 Riley Battin (7.8 pts, 4.6 rbd)
C- 7’0 Branden Carlson (7.5 pts, 5.6 rbd), 6’10 Lahat Thioune (1.8 pts)
The Utes win the tiebreaker by virtue of having by far the better coach in Larry Krystkowiak. There’s only one senior in my projected rotation (Plummer) but also only 2 freshmen so this team could be a year away from being a serious contender for the Pac-12 title. Had Both Gach decided to return then they might have been a darkhorse pick. As it stands this team is missing a bit of shooting and defense that keep it out of the discussion. Timmy Allen is a really fun to watch throwback undersized power forward but his lack of shooting really hurts them. There’s solid depth and against a lot of teams Utah may have only one of the 3 or 4 best players on the court but 8 of the best 12. In a potential COVID season that depth might give them a boost.
8. Colorado Buffaloes- 44 Points
PG- 6’0 McKinley Wright IV (14.4 pts, 5.0 ast), 6’3 Eli Parquet (2.6 pts)
PF- 6’7 Jeriah Horne (Tulsa transfer), 6’8 Jabari Walker (3*, #160 overall)
C- 6’8 Evan Battey (8.9 pts, 5.9 rbd), 7’0 Dallas Walton (1.6 pts)
The Buffs massively underachieved last season and have now lost their best all-around player in Tyler Bey. They avoided complete disaster though by getting McKinley Wright IV to return for his senior year as their lead guard. The pieces are potentially here to sneak into the NCAA tournament if everything comes together. Jeriah Horne should be able to step into the starting lineup and do a semi-passable Bey impression and that makes 4 potential double digit scorers in the starting lineup along with Schwartz, Battey, and Wright IV. This looks like a team that should finish within a game of 0.500 in conference play with a couple of close games making the difference.
7. USC Trojans- 55 Points
PG- 6’1 Ethan Anderson (5.5 pts, 4.2 ast), 6’6 Noah Baumann (San Jose State transfer)
SG- 6’2 Tahj Eaddy (Santa Clara transfer), 6’7 Isaiah White (Utah Valley transfer)
SF- 6’8 Max Agbonkpolo (2.5 pts), 6’8 Drew Peterson (Rice transfer)
PF- 6’10 Isaiah Mobley (6.2 pts, 5.6 rbd), 6’9 Chevez Goodwin (Wofford transfer)
C- 7’0 Evan Mobley (5*, #3 overall), 6’11 Joshua Morgan (Long Beach State transfer)
Could this team end up winning the conference? Absolutely. Given some of the problems that Andy Enfield’s teams have had with chemistry in recent seasons though it’s not hard to see how things could potentially go off the rails. The core of this team is the Mobley brothers who are very likely to average a combined 28+ points and 18+ rebounds as the primary frontcourt options. Their dad is of course one of USC’s assistant coaches. Beyond that it’s a pair of true sophomores and then 6 transfers from lower level schools. If half of those transfers hit as legitimate Pac-12 level starters then this will be a deadly team. Otherwise, they may struggle to play as a team.
6. UCLA Bruins- 61 Points
SF- 6’6 Jaime Jaquez (8.9 pts, 4.8 rbd), 6’6 Jake Kyman (5.3 pts)
PF- 6’9 Chris Smith (13.1 pts, 5.4 rbd), 6’9 Cody Riley (8.8 pts, 4.5 rbd)
It seems a little odd that the team that finished in 2nd place in the Pac-12 standings and returns almost their whole team ends up 6th, but here we are. Of course last year’s team started out abysmally before rallying to win 7 of their final 8 contests. There are 8 players coming back that averaged at least 4 points per game last year which shows a lot of depth. But in a very un-UCLA like move there’s not a ton of starpower to lead it. Chris Smith is a very good lanky combo forward but there aren’t many guys on the roster that truly scare you. However, a year of continuity and another season under Mick Cronin should only help. The lone major addition is Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang who was highly rated coming out of high school but really struggled as a freshman so this isn’t quite a Quade Green situation.
5. Washington Huskies- 71 Points
PG- 6’0 Quade Green (11.6 pts, 5.3 ast), 6’4 Nate Pryor (JUCO transfer)
If I was a betting man I would probably not bet on Washington to finish as high as 5th in the conference. So why are they here then after finishing last a year ago? First of all Washington is a clear regression to the mean candidate. The Dawgs finished 1-10 in conference games decided by 6 or fewer points. That’s so improbable statistically and perhaps the biggest reason for it (lack of late game veteran decision making) is solved by having Green and Stevenson available. Both are capable of creating their own shot as well as setting up for others if the shot clock is winding down. And yet the 5th place ranking is entirely on the backs of the players.
The Huskies may get killed on the boards with the starting lineup I have listed there but offensively it gives them five credible 3-pt threats at the same time as long as Jamal Bey bounces back in that regard. The lack of big man constantly sitting under the rim (even if he’s as good as Isaiah Stewart or Noah Dickerson) will open up driving and cutting lanes that haven’t been there in Hop’s tenure so far. This starting lineup would also give the Huskies 5 upperclassmen as well as several talented sophomores coming off the bench who got their feet wet as freshmen. It will be a different look team for sure this year but given how last year went, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
4. Arizona Wildcats- 72 Points
PG- 6’0 James Akinjo (Georgetown Transfer), 6’1 Terrell Brown (Seattle transfer)
SF- 6’4 Jemarl Baker (5.7 pts, 2.3 rbd), 6’7 Ira Lee (3.3 pts, 3.1 rbd)
C- 6’11 Jordan Brown (Nevada transfer), 6’11 Christian Koloko (2.3 pts, 2.4 rbd)
What a weird roster. This 10-man depth chart has 4 transfers (1 of whom played last year) as well as 4 true freshmen (3 of whom are International prospects). On paper you’d think this might be a step back for Zona but then again the entire projected starting lineup were top-90 players coming out of high school and the only non 4-stars are the backup center who is raw but athletic and Terrell Brown who averaged 20+ points per game at Seattle U last year. I’m concerned about the team chemistry with this combination of transfers and international guys but there’s no doubting that this squad can match up against just about everyone else in the conference. But until we see the international freshmen play it’s hard to say whether they’ve been under or overrated with the relative lack of scouting.
3. Stanford Cardinal- 79 Points
PG- 6’3 Daejon Davis (8.8 pts, 3.7 ast), 6’2 Michael O’Connell (4*, #100 overall)
PF- 6’8 Ziare Williams (5*, #6 overall), 6’9 James Keefe (3.3 pts, 3.1 rbd)
C- 6’9 Oscar da Silva (15.7 pts, 6.4 rbd), 6’10 Lukas Kisunas (2.4 pts, 2.8 rbd)
If Stanford had gotten back Tyrell Terry then I think this is my Pac-12 favorite. As it stands this team looks like a clear NCAA squad but a notch below a couple of others in the conference. Seattle native and one-time Husky commit Daejon Davis is a senior now and has never fully put it together. The projected starting backcourt of Davis and Wills shot just 33 of 121 from 3-pt range last year which is a glaring issue. However, Spencer Jones is a sniper at SF and Ziare Williams is one of just three 5-star players joining the Pac. He’s a combo forward that should give a lot of versatility to coach Jerod Haase alongside a stronger combo forward in Oscar da Silva who might be the best all-around returner in the conference. Backup PG Michael O’Connell is the shortest player on the roster at 6’2 so this continues to be one of the biggest teams in the country.
2. Arizona State Sun Devils- 82 Points
SG- 6’3 Alonso Verge (14.6 pts, 3.5 rbd), 6’2 Jaelen House (3.9 pts, 1.9 rbd)
Expect the Sun Devils to live up to their name this year and torch everyone. They already returned the highest scoring backcourt in the conference and now they add in 5-star Josh Christopher who was one of the most complete high school scorers in the country. If Bobby Hurley’s squad had a frontcourt to match then they’d be a national title contender. Unfortunately there’s serious question marks there as Romello White’s grad transfer left a gaping hole. ASU has 0 scholarship players taller than 6’9 although they’ve essentially got 5 combo forwards that are at least 6’8 who will take turns attempting to man the rim. Graham is by far their best shot blocker so he gets the nod as the starting center. Expect a lot of games hitting the over when the Sun Devils get involved and for Remy Martin to be the preseason player of the year favorite.
1. Oregon Ducks- 82 Points
PG- 6’2 Amauri Hardy (UNLV Transfer), 6’1 Jalen Terry (4*, #73 overall)
SG- 6’5 Will Richardson (11.0 pts, 3.7 rbd), 6’5 L.J Figueroa (St. John’s transfer)
As has become commonplace for Oregon this is a very reshaped roster but the amount of overall talent is undeniable. Unfortunately. If you include Hardy and Omoruyi’s most recent numbers from their previous school then it gives the Ducks 4 starters who averaged double figures plus a 5-star center who averaged 15 points per 36 minutes last year while being phased into the roster midseason due to eligibility issues. There may be 4 transfers that Oregon is relying on but all came from solid programs. This isn’t USC relying on guys from Stony Brook and Long Beach State. UNLV and VCU are generally top-100 programs and while St. John’s and Rugers aren’t powerhouses at least they’re in power conferences. Put all of that together with Dana Altman who has consistently shown the ability to completely remake his roster every year and Oregon is the team I’m most confident in saying will be competing for a conference title at the end of the season.