College Basketball 2014-15: Pac-12 Predictions and Awards

Brandon Ashley and Arizona lead our preseason picks

The Pac-12 hierarchy can be somewhat predictable. Arizona and UCLA usually find their way at or near the top. Washington State and Oregon State generally land at or near the bottom. 

 

Those trends figure to continue in 2014-15 with Arizona challenging to end the league’s Final Four drought dating back to UCLA in 2008. The Bruins are rebuilding, but they’re rarely without the talent to challenge for an NCAA Tournament bid.

 

Shakeups have occurred in this league in recent seasons, but perhaps one of the most surprising developments has been the rise of the two newest members.

 

Colorado and Utah figured to contribute little to the basketball product of the Pac-12 when they joined in 2011. This season, they could be two of the league's better teams.

 

Instead, Colorado under Tad Boyle is enjoying its most successful period in program history. Utah has reached the Final Four in its past but has been an afterthought for most of the last decade or so. After winning six total games as recently 2011-12, the Utes are poised to complete a quick rise that could end in the NCAA Tournament this season.

 

Arizona’s place as the league’s prohibitive favorite along with the emerging programs at Colorado, Utah and Stanford may be the top storylines in a league in a state of flux. Cal, Washington State and Oregon State have new coaches. Oregon and Arizona State have personnel losses that will make returns to the NCAA Tournament difficult.

 

Previews of every Pac-12 team and more are available in the 2014-15 Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview.

 

Pac-12 2014-15 Preseason Picks

 

1. Arizona (team preview

Postseason projection: NCAA Final Four

Sean Miller has his usual surplus of talent. He might get an upgrade going from Nick Johnson to Stanley Johnson. 

 

2. Colorado (team preview)

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 32

Always-underrated Buffs return four starters, including one of league’s better big men in Josh Scott.

 

3. Stanford (team preview)

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 32

Johnny Dawkins got the Cardinal back in the NCAAs. He has enough talent to go again.

 

4. UCLA (team preview)

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 32

NBA early exits cost the Bruins three players and knocked them down a few rungs, but they won’t fall far.

 

5. Utah (team preview)

Postseason projection: NCAA round of 32

Larry Krystkowiak can coach, and he welcomes back four starters to what could be the league’s most improved team.

 

6. Cal

Postseason projection: NIT

To really flourish, new coach Cuonzo Martin needs to get more out of guard Jabari Bird than his predecessor. 

 

7. Oregon

Postseason projection: NIT

The Ducks were gutted by scandal, transfers and graduation. Just four players return. Who are these guys?  

 

8. USC 

Postseason projection: NIT

Andy Enfield has recruited well with his two classes, but he’s a year away from noticeable results.

 

9. Washington 

The talent is down. Attendance is down. The unthinkable is happening: Lorenzo Romar is on the hot seat. 

 

10. Arizona State

The Sun Devils had four players transfer out and another leave early for the NBA. That’s not the look of a winner.

 

11. Oregon State

New coach Wayne Tinkle doesn’t have any presidential connections. He’ll need help from someone.

 

12. Washington State

Ernie Kent takes on the toughest job in the Pac-12. He may wonder why he left the broadcast booth.

 

2014-15 Pac-12 Superlatives

 

Player of the Year: Stanley Johnson, Arizona 

The five-star swingman can score from anywhere on the court. His arrival at Arizona further solidifies the Wildcats’ trend as a recruiting powerhouse.

 

Best Defensive Player: David Kravish, Cal

Cal is hoping Kravish becomes a more well-rounded offensive threat, but for now, he’s a standout interior defender. He averaged 7.7 rebounds a year ago.

 

Most Underrated Player: DaVonte Lacy, Washington State

Who finished second in the Pac-12 in scoring last season? Unless you were following closely, you may have missed that it was Lacy, who averaged 19.4 points.

 

Newcomer of the Year: Stanley Johnson, Arizona

Johnson follows Aaron Gordon as a star California prospect to head to Arizona — and probably go one-and-done.

 

Top coach: Sean Miller, Arizona (full Pac-12 coach rankings)

 

First-Team All-Pac-12

G Delon Wright, Utah

G Chasson Randle, Stanford

F Brandon Ashley, Arizona

F Stanley Johnson, Arizona 

F Josh Scott, Colorado

 

Second-Team All-Pac-12

G Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington

G Askia Booker, Colorado

G Joseph Young, Oregon

F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson , Arizona

F Anthony Brown, Stanford

 

Third-Team All-Pac-12

G T.J. McConnell, Arizona

G DaVonté Lacy, Washington State

G Norman Powell, UCLA

F Kevon Looney, UCLA

F David Kravish, Cal

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