We are essentially 2 months away from the expected start of the college basketball season. The Pac-12 technically still can’t have games until 2021 but that is certain to change for football any day and likely for men’s/women’s basketball soon thereafter. Normally during the summer I put out 3 sets of power rankings. One looking at the returning players to the conference, a second looking to the newcomers, and a third final version which puts them together.
This year that was delayed since players had much longer than normal to decide whether or not to declare for the draft. I think we can finally say though that the rosters are close to their final form.
A few ground rules. A player is considered a returner if they saw the court for their current team last season. If they redshirted then they’ll show up on the newcomer list. The points system I use is absolutely psuedo-science but the key point is I have absolutely 0 individual input into the list once I set up the system. Players are ranked according to my projection system which factors in their grade, star rating, and past college play assuming equal playing time. Then teams receive points both for having high end talent as well as depth.
Let’s get on with it.
12. Washington State Cougars- 3 points
% of Returning: Minutes- 47.5%, Points- 46.3%, Rebounds- 42.0%, Assists- 54.3%
Key Returners: PG Isaac Bonton (15.3 pts, 4.0 ast), PG Noah Williams (6.2 pts, 3.5 reb), SF Aljaz Kunc (4.5 pts, 3.2 reb)
Key Losses: SF CJ Elleby (Pro), SG Jervae Robinson (Grad), PF Jeff Pollard (Grad), SF Marvin Cannon (Transfer)
I almost feel bad for the Cougars. If CJ Elleby had decided to return for his junior season then he might’ve been the best player in the conference and Washington State had legitimate hopes for an NCAA berth. Without him unfortunately it’s tough to see a path.
Bonton used up just as many possessions while on the court as Elleby but was much less efficient and had a well below average offensive rating. The same can be said for true freshman Noah Williams although he looks like a future all Pac-12 defensive team candidate.
11. USC Trojans- 5 Points
% of Returning: Minutes- 25.6%, Points- 19.5%, Rebounds- 24.0%, Assists- 39.3%
Key Returners: PG Ethan Anderson (5.5 pts, 4.2 ast), PF Isaiah Mobley (6.2 pts, 5.3 reb), SF Max Agbonkpolo (2.5 pts)
Key Losses: C Onyeka Okongwu (Pro), C Nick Rakocevic (Grad), SG Jonah Matthews (Grad), PG Elijah Weaver (Transfer), SG Daniel Utomi (Grad)
The Trojans don’t come in last place but they do essentially flip over their entire roster. Ethan Anderson comes back who was their leading assist man a year ago but also really struggled with turnovers and converting near the rim. Isaiah Mobley was a highly rated big man who will be reunited this year with his even more highly rated younger brother. That gives USC back 2 of their 7 main rotation pieces plus a fringe guy with potential in Agbonkpolo. However, losing three-quarters of their production is going to be tough to overcome.
10. Arizona Wildcats- 6 Points
% of Returning: Minutes- 19.7%, Points- 14.4%, Rebounds- 20.2%, Assists- 19.7%
Key Returners: SG Jemarl Baker (5.7 pts, 2.3 ast), PF Ira Lee (3.3 pts, 3.1 reb), C Christian Koloko (2.3 pts, 2.4 reb)
Key Losses: PG Nico Mannion (Pro), SF Josh Green (Pro), PF Zeke Nnaji (Pro), C Chase Jeter (Grad), SG Dylan Smith (Grad), PG Max Hazzard (Grad), PF Stone Gettings (Grad)
Arizona really went all-in on last season and probably didn’t meet internal expectations then didn’t get a chance in the NCAA tournament. Now they’re in a complete rebuild as Sean Miller has attempted to completely change his philosophy on the fly (more on that in the newcomers edition).
All 5 starters are gone for Arizona although they bring back 3 of their next 5 guys off the bench. Baker was a solid guard after transferring in from Kentucky who should be among their leading scorers this year. Lee is probably what he is at this point, a role player big man who’s a nice piece. And Koloko had flashes but is still extremely raw as a shot blocker. Those are fine but leaves Arizona way in the dust of the rest of the Pac-12 and marks the end of the bottom tier.
t-8. Oregon State Beavers- 23 points
% of Returning: Minutes- 58.4%, Points- 52.2%, Rebounds- 43.1%, Assists- 64.4%
Key Returners: PG Ethan Thompson (14.8 pts, 4.5 ast), SG Zach Reichle (7.9 pts, 3.3 reb), SF Alfred Hollins (5.2 pts, 3.0 reb)
Key Losses: PF Tres Tinkle (Grad), C Kylor Kelley (Grad), PG Sean Miller-Moore (Transfer)
Somehow every year I create a totally independent system and I end up with a ton of ties. I put the Beavers below by virtue of their best player being ranked slightly lower. The reign of Tres Tinkle is finally finished. Now Ethan Thompson is the last member remaining of the coaches’ sons crew and he should lead Oregon State in points and assists. The 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th leading scorers from last year also return so there’s some solid depth on hand even if none of it was close to an all-conference level. All of a sudden the Beavers are one of if not the least talented team in the conference and that shows why they rank 8th in the returner category despite bringing back 5 of their top 7 rotation guys.
% of Returning: Minutes- 66.9%, Points- 67.1%, Rebounds- 71.0%, Assists- 59.1%
Key Returners: SF Matt Bradley (17.5 pts, 4.9 reb), PF Grant Anticevich (8.3 pts, 5.6 reb), C Andre Kelly (7.5 pts, 5.6 reb)
Key Losses: PG Paris Austin (Grad), SG Kareem South (Grad), SF Juhwan Harris-Dyson (Transfer)
Cal would be in much better shape if they hadn’t lost Justice Sueing and Connor Vanover to transfer the previous summer but this is shaping up as a solid if not spectacular roster. Matt Bradley had a breakout sophomore season and should enter this year as one of the favorites to lead the conference in scoring. He’s an elite shooter even though he has defensive limitations. Otherwise, the Bears return 5 of their next 7 players in minutes played while just losing their starting backcourt (which isn’t a small thing). There’s not a lot of raw talent on this roster and having 6 sophomores means they’re probably a year away from serious contention.
7. Colorado Buffaloes- 27 Points
% of Returning: Minutes- 59.3%, Points- 56.8%, Rebounds- 50.9%, Assists- 69.2%
Key Returners: PG McKinley Wright (14.4 pts, 5.0 ast), SF D’Shawn Schwartz (9.8 pts, 3.6 reb), C Evan Battey (8.9 pts, 5.9 reb)
Key Losses: PF Tyler Bey (Pro), PF Lucas Siewert (Grad), SG Shane Gatling (Grad), SG Daylen Kountz (Transfer)
The Buffs hoped that last year would be possibly their best team ever and things didn’t turn out as planned even before the NCAA tournament was cancelled. Colorado salvaged a trip straight to the bottom when PG McKinley Wright returned with his 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game (although it would be nice to see him improve his 3pt shot). Add in the upperclassman duo of D’Shawn Schwartz and Evan Battey who each shot better than 35% from deep and that’s one of the best trios in the conference. I’m underwhelmed by the rest of the returners but there are a couple more rotation pieces coming back.
6. Arizona State Sun Devils- 33 Points
% of Returning: Minutes- 58.4%, Points- 64.8%, Rebounds- 44.8%, Assists- 76.2%
Key Returners: PG Remy Martin (19.1 pts, 4.1 ast), SG Alonso Verge (14.6 pts, 3.5 reb), PF Taeshon Cherry (4.6 pts, 3.4 reb)
Key Losses: SG Rob Edwards (Grad), C Romello White (Transfer), Mickey Mitchell (Grad)
From a national perspective there’s no bigger name in the Pac-12 conference than Remy Martin as the Pac-12’s leading returning scorer who has ASU dreaming of a potential Final Four with his return. They also return high usage Alonso Verge who had a 46 point game last year and is the definition of volume scorer. Having Romello White transfer was an unexpected blow and they’ll hope the returning trio of Jaelen House, Kimani Lawrence, and Taeshon Cherry can make due.
t-3rd. Oregon Ducks- 38 Points
% of Returning: Minutes- 45.0%, Points- 44.2%, Rebounds- 42.1%, Assists- 39.9%
Key Returners: SG Chris Duarte (12.9 pts, 5.6 reb), SF Will Richardson (46.9% 3pt), PF Chandler Lawson (4.5 pts, 3.9 reb)
Key Losses: PG Payton Pritchard (Grad), PF Shakur Juiston (Grad), SG Anthony Mathis (Grad), PF CJ Walker (Transfer), C Francis Okor (Transfer)
It’s quality over quantity for the Ducks which lands them as the loser of the 3-way tiebreaker for 3rd place. They bring back 5 of their 8 leading scorers but if given the choice Duck fans would clearly rather have the half of the roster that left than the one that stayed. Chris Duarte should average 15+ points per game this year and Will Richardson was 4th in the entire country in 3-pt percentage so there will be scoring punch. N’Faly Dante had eligibility issues but was a 5-star center last year. The Ducks once again bring back a talented bunch despite their constant turnover.
t-3rd. Washington Huskies-38 Points
% of Returning: Minutes- 59.8%, Points- 52.5%, Rebounds- 45.3%, Assists- 67.4%
Key Returners: PG Quade Green (11.6 pts, 5.3 ast), SF Nahziah Carter (12.2 pts, 4.9 reb), PF Hameir Wright (5.6 pts, 4.3 reb)
Key Losses: C Isaiah Stewart (Pro), SF Jaden McDaniels (Pro), PG Elijah Hardy(Transfer), C Sam Timmins (Grad), C Bryan Penn-Johnson (Transfer)
The loss of the pair of one-and-dones obviously hurts but in terms of production off last year’s roster that’s essentially all the Huskies lose. Quade Green coming back and maintaining eligibility is the big coup as he was phenomenal in the 6 games before he went out for the back half of the year. Naz Carter and Hameir Wright are both seniors and if either can just become slightly more efficient on offense it would be huge. They will pair with junior Jamal Bey to form the teeth of the defense.
Washington also returns plenty of young mostly unproven talent with Marcus Tsohonis, Nate Roberts, and RaeQuan Battle. If 2 of the 3 can take a big leap forward it would really improve the Huskies’ floor.
t-3rd. Utah Utes- 38 Points
% of Returning: Minutes- 84.3%, Points- 84.6%, Rebounds- 79.3%, Assists- 80.2%
Key Returners: SF Timmy Allen (17.3 pts, 7.3 reb), PG Rylan Jones (9.6 pts, 4.6 ast), SG Alfonso Plummer (8.4 pts)
Key Loss: Both Gach (Transfer)
The Utes really only lose one significant piece off of last year’s team but it was their second best player and he transferred in seemingly a lateral move, to Minnesota, which had to hurt. This was a mediocre team last year that somehow had 7 top-55 Kenpom wins but also had 8 sub-55 Kenpom losses. That up and down inconsistency was to be expected for a team that last year had 0 upperclassmen. Now those players are all sophomores or juniors led by Timmy Allen who was Utah’s best scorer and rebounder. The raw talent level is still pretty low but you can expect that coach Krystkowiak is going to get the best out of them.
2nd. UCLA Bruins- 53 Points
% of Returning: Minutes- 86.5%, Points- 88.9%, Rebounds- 79.8%, Assists- 91.3%
Key Returners: PG Tyger Campbell (8.3 pts, 5.0 ast), SF Chris Smith (13.1 pts, 5.4 reb), PF Jalen Hill (9.0 pts, 6.9 reb)
Key Losses: SG Prince Ali (Grad), PF Alex Olesinski (Grad), PF Shareef O’Neal (Transfer)
The Bruins reasonably struggled early last year with a new head coach and a young squad but they made a huge run winning 9 of their last 11. And you could argue they lost 0 key pieces from last year’s team since seniors Prince Ali and Alex Olesinski were taken out of the rotation by that time and Shareef O’Neal transferred midseason. Chris Smith is the “star” but this was a true group effort for the Bruins as four players averaged between 8 and 9 points last year and that depth is all coming back. This returning group is missing some depth protecting the rim but it’s still an impressive group coalescing under coach Mick Cronin.
1st. Stanford Cardinal- 54 Points
% of Returning: Minutes- 77.0%, Points- 73.7%, Rebounds- 73.2%, Assists- 70.3%
Key Returners: PF Oscar Da Silva (15.7 pts, 6.4 reb), PG Daejon Davis (8.8 pts, 3.7 ast), SF Spencer Jones (8.8 pts, 43.1% 3pt)
Key Losses: PG Tyrell Terry (Pro), SG Isaac White (Pro)
The winner by a hair is Stanford who would have earned the title running away if freshman point guard Tyrell Terry hadn’t decided to become a one and done. The primary reason is that my system has Da Silva as the best all-around returning player in the conference as a very productive senior which gives them an edge. Former Husky commit Daejon Davis is back for his final season and he’ll hope to finally be able to cut down on turnovers enough to be a clear plus on the offensive end. Now sophomore Spencer Jones was a surprise instant impact guy as a 6’7 forward who was an absolute sniper. Overall, it’s 7 of 9 rotation players returning for the Cardinal in what they hope will finally be the breakout year under Jerod Haase.
Come back for our next edition ranking the incoming player haul for each team in the Pac-12.