New contenders could give Arizona trouble atop Pac-12
The Pac-12’s plan for growth took another step forward last season. Utah ran neck and neck with Arizona for most of the season, giving the league two teams with potential to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Oregon continued to be one of the best offensive teams in the country, and UCLA — perhaps due to a fortunate draw — reached the Sweet 16.
As Utah and Oregon have risen to prominence in recent years, expect two more Pac-12 teams to become must-watch squads. Cal scored two recruiting victories to make the Bears a conference contender. And Oregon State expects to move from being a tough out to a realistic NCAA contender behind Gary Payton II.
All Pac-12 predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.
Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?
|2015-16 Pac-12 Predictions|
|1.||No one rebuilds any better out West than Sean Miller. He has an enviable mix of size, transfers and recruits. Postseason: NCAA Elite Eight||Team Preview|
Two five-star recruits paired with a trio of proven veterans could make this the year of the Golden Bears. Postseason: NCAA Sweet 16
The Ducks weren’t supposed to be any good last year; people won’t make that mistake again. Postseason: NCAA Second Round
|4.||Steve Alford has brought stability to Westwood, and the Bruins have the talent to contend. Postseason: NCAA Second Round||Team Preview|
Four returning starters, among them 7-footer Jakob Poeltl, will keep the Utes in the upper division. Postseason: NCAA First Round
The second coming of Gary Payton in Corvallis has rekindled great interest in Beavers basketball. Postseason: NCAA First Round
|7.||New coach Bobby Hurley will have the Sun Devils running and attacking; winning big, however, could be a few years away. Postseason: NIT|
If big man Jake Scott can stay healthy, the Buffaloes easily could be three or four slots better. Postseason: NIT
The Huskies are dealing with the great unknown with so many new faces, but possibilities persist. Postseason: NIT
The Cardinal lost their top three scorers. There is still some talent on the Farm, but a drop-off is inevitable.
|11.||The talent level is improving at USC, but the Trojans are a year away from making a big move.|
Ever been to Pullman? Ernie Kent is trying his best to convince others to join him.
Player of the Year: Gary Payton II, Oregon State
Best Defensive Player: Gary Payton II, State
Most Underrated Player: Jordan Loveridge, Utah
Newcomer of the Year: Jaylen Brown, Cal
Top Coach: Sean Miller, Arizona (full list)
Coach on the Hot Seat: Lorenzo Romar, Washington (full list)
Teams in the national top 25: No. 8 Arizona, No. 13 Cal, No. 21 Oregon
All-Pac-12 First Team
G Gary Payton II, Oregon State
G Jaylen Brown, Cal
G Tyrone Wallace, Cal
F Ryan Anderson, Arizona
F Josh Scott, Colorado
All-Pac-12 Second Team
G Bryce Alford, UCLA
G Allonzo Trier, Arizona
C Jakob Poeltl, Utah
C Ivan Rabb, Cal
C Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona
All-Pac-12 Third Team
G Andrew Andrews, Washington
G Jabari Bird, Cal
F Elgin Cook, Oregon
F Josh Hawkins, Washington State
F Tony Parker, UCLA
1. Arizona: This top-five national class is led by athletic scoring wings Allonzo Trier and Ray Smith.
2. Washington: The Huskies reload with an eight-man recruiting class led by four-star guard Dejounte Murray and four-star big man Marquese Chriss.
3. California: The duo of top-10 prospects Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb is enough to give Cuonzo Martin a top-20 national class.
4. UCLA: Bruins bring in a couple of four-star guards in Aaron Holiday (brother of Jrue) and Prince Ali.
5. Oregon: Oregon’s top-25 class includes a five-star combo guard in Tyler Dorsey.
6. Oregon State The Beavers’ class includes coaches’ sons Stephen Thompson Jr. and Tres Tinkle.
7. USC: The Trojans have only a two-man class, but Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu are four-star power forwards with upside.
8. Stanford: Johnny Dawkins has a trio of borderline top-100 prospects to bolster the forward positions.
9. Arizona State: A couple of four-star junior college prospects and the late addition of athletic big man Andre Adams comprise Bobby Hurley’s first class.
10. Washington State: Ernie Kent secured a five-man class led by 7-footer Conor Clifford.
11. Colorado Tad Boyle dipped into the junior college ranks and the overseas market for his 2015 class.
12. Utah: The Utes have high hopes for local standout Makol Mawien.