Projected order of finish
1-5. Check back tomorrow
7. Oregon State
8. Washington State
10. Arizona State
Out with the old, in with the new that should be the theme for the Pac-10s 2005-2006 season, as many of the big names around the West Coast have either graduated or headed pro.
While the Pac-10 hasnt exactly measured up to other heavyweight conferences in recent years, that could change in 2006. Pac-10 coaches are recruiting better than ever, and this is the year it starts to pay off.
The bottom four remain weak, though the Trojans might not stay in this group for long. In cellar we find Arizona State, a team that could be in for a rough season. While the marquee faces are new, the talent level may have gone up a bit in the Pac-10. This is a conference that should improve quite dramatically over the next couple of years, and it starts right now.DraftExpress 2006 Preseason All Pac-10 Teams and Awards
All Pac-101st Team
PG Jordan Farmar
SG Malik Hairston
SF Hassan Adams
SF Brandon Roy
PF Leon Powe
, California 2nd Team
PG Chris Hernandez
PG Gabe Pruitt
SG Dan Grunfield, Stanford
PF Matt Haryasz
PF Nick DeWitz
, Oregon State 3rd Team
PG Aaron Brooks
PG Mustafa Shakur
SG Jawann McClellan
SG Nick Young
SF Bobby Jones
, Washington All-Newcomer Team
PG Antwi Atuahene
, Arizona State
SG Marcus Williams
SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
PF Jon Brockman
C Abdoulaye Ndiaye
, USC MVP: Leon Powe, California
Defensive Player of the Year: Bobby Jones, Washington
Most Improved Player: Jawann McClellan, Arizona
Newcomer of the Year: Jon Brockman, Washington
Coach of the Year: Ben Braun, California
Oregon 2005 Record: (14-13, 6-12)
Head Coach: Ernie Kent
C Ian Crosswhite (8.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg) Newcomers:
68 PF Ivan Johnson, jr, Los Angeles Southwest (CA) CC Rotation:
PG 60 Aaron Brooks
SG 65 Bryce Taylor
SF 66 Malik Hairston
PF 69 Marty Leunen, so
C 68 Ivan Johnson, jr
PG 62 Kenny Love, sr
SG 64 Chamberlain Oguchi
SG 64 Brandon Lincoln, sr
SF 65 Jordan Kent, sr
C 70 Ray Schaefer, so
C 70 Matt Short, sr
Was last season a disappointment for Oregon basketball fans? Given the fact that the team started three freshmen and had lost three lottery picks over the past three seasons, could a six win Pac-10 season been in order? While its obvious that relying heavily on freshmen isnt the best way to win college basketball games, there was also the feeling that this team was still a disappointment. One expected more out of these freshmen, and the Ducks just never gelled as a team. When Ian Crosswhite was booted midseason, Ernie Kent found himself woefully lacking in the size department. The team seemed to fold down the stretch, and some nasty rumors began to float about over the summer. While nothing was ever confirmed, so much mud was being thrown around that the Oregon administration felt it necessary to come out with a message of public support for Kent. Thankfully, the summer has come to an end, and there have been no transfers. Kent has recently won a few recruiting battles, and he still has quite a bit of talent to work with. The Ducks enter the season with a loaded backcourt, led by an all-American type talent in Malik Hairston
. Whether last season was just a group of youngsters needing some time to adjust or the sign of more deeply rooted problems will probably be very evident before too long in 2006.
Last years vaunted backcourt was full of flash and individual achievement, but certainly played like individuals and not as a group. Sophomore prodigy Malik Hairston
(13.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg) could become the next in a line of Oregon lottery picks, and is probably the most talented of all the NBA draft prospects Kent has coached. Hairston is a smooth athlete, content to play within himself and create for others. He has a lightning quick first step, and will create his own shot in the midrange. However, Hairston almost looked bored at times last season. He must become more aggressive within the offense, and attack rather than float. Once he figures these things out, Malik Hairston
is an All-American.
Starting alongside Hairston in the backcourt will be junior Aaron Brooks
(14.7 ppg, 4.6 apg) and sophomore Bryce Taylor
. Brooks has the quickness to get into the lane and will put up some big scoring numbers, but isnt quite the pass-first point guard that would benefit a team like this. His continued development as a floor general will be crucial if this team wants to make the NCAA tournament this spring. Taylor, known mostly as a shooting specialist in high school, came out of the gate blazing last fall. He has a beautiful long range stroke, but also showed off some surprising athleticism. Taylor fell back to earth as the season went on, but will be counted on to lead this team in scoring on many nights. The rest of the backcourt minutes will be divvied up amongst several reserves sophomore Chamberlain Oguchi
and seniors Kenny Love, Brandon Lincoln, and Jordan Kent
The frontcourt is where Kent has the most work to do. The one reliable presence is sophomore power forward Marty Leunen (5.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who showed quite a bit of promise as a freshman. While Leunen probably isnt physically ready to anchor the frontcourt of a successful Pac-10 team, he approaches the game with the ferocity you want to see in a post player. His feel for the game is above average, and Leunen is skilled enough to develop into a decent scoring option. 7-footer Mitch Platt was expected to start at center, but chronic foot problems have sidelined him for the year. Kent then went out and found JC product Ivan Johnson, freshly released from his LOI at Cincinnati. Ranked by Lindys as the #5 JC power forward in the country, Johnson will need to bring toughness and a physical scoring presence in the post. Other paint options for Kent include senior center Matt Short, and the little-used Adam Zahn.
Oregon had a few valid excuses for last seasons shortcomings - youth, the lack of a reliable post option, and a team that was still meshing. With the bulk of the roster returning, it would be reasonable to expect the Ducks to be a much better basketball team in 2006. Hairston is a truly special player, while Brooks and Taylor might not play second fiddle on many teams. Nonetheless, some of what happened last year cant be chalked up to inexperience. There was a definite lack of toughness across the board, especially on the defensive end. The youngsters must become complete team players, rather than just scorers, and Kent has to find somebody to put up a dozen or so points in the frontcourt. While these arent impossible tasks, its not a foregone conclusion that the Ducks will make the field of 64 this spring. Recruiting Update:
After a very long dry spell, Kent has added a couple of players recently. Undersized power forward Joevan Catron should give the Ducks an infusion of the toughness they need, while diminutive point guard Tajuan Porter
is a sleeper. Kent will also gain the services of highly regarded Xavier transfer Churchill Odia
Oregon State 2005 Record: (17-15, 8-10)
Postseason: NIT, lost to Cal State Fullerton in 1st round
Head Coach: Jay John
SG JS Nash (9.3 ppg)
PF David Lucas
(18.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg) Newcomers:
63 SG Wesley Washington, so, Compton (CA) CC
63 SG Josh Tarver, Portland, OR
66 SG Jack McGillis, Missoula, MT
69 PF Calvin Hampton, Fort Washington, MD Rotation:
PG 64 Lamar Hurd, sr
SG 510 Jason Fontenet, sr
SF 62 Chris Stephens, sr
PF 68 Nick Dewitz
C 610 Sasa Cuic
SG 63 Angelo Tsagarakis, so
SG 63 Wesley Washington, so
SG 63 Josh Tarver, fr
SF 68 Marcel Jones
PF 69 Calvin Hampton, fr
C 69 Kyle Jeffers, jr
For the first time in what seems like forever, the Oregon State Beavers actually showed a pulse on the basketball floor. Despite facing some very difficult recruiting barriers, Jay John has managed to find talent in unconventional places junior college, transfers, and overseas. The Beavers finished the season at 8-10 in the conference nothing to sniff at for most programs, but a major accomplishment for John. If star David Lucas
hadnt missed the preseason with an injury, the Beavers probably would have put in a 20 win season. Unfortunately, Lucas has used up his eligibility. While John still has a veteran laden lineup and a couple of very intriguing options, its difficult to see this team building too much on last season in a very tough Pac-10. The Beavers will rely heavily on its seniors, namely big man Nick DeWitz
and speedster Jason Fontenet, and hope that a couple of the newcomers are ready to play. John has brought a glimmer of hope to Oregon State hoops, but this will probably have to overachieve to cash in on the optimism.
The heart of this team is probably in the backcourt, where John will start two senior point guards in Lamar Hurd (2.7 ppg, 3.0 apg), and Jason Fontenet (8.0 ppg, 3.0 apg). The two are near polar opposites, with Hurd being the steady, team minded floor general and Fontenet the blazing quick scorer. Hurd brings size and intangibles to the position, but is a truly anemic offensive performer. Fontenet adjusted nicely to Pac-10 basketball in his first season the court since transferring from New Mexico, and could be in for a big senior year if he can become a bit more consistent. He might just be the quickest player in the conference, and is a very underrated shooter. While the duo has plenty of experience and skill, they will be expected to pick up more of the scoring load. John needs more than a combined 10.7 ppg from his starting backcourt.
There will be plenty of options at the wings, though there isnt much here in terms of proven production. Senior Chris Stephens (9.8 ppg) is a solid spot up shooter, but offers little else. Also returning is sophomore Angelo Tsagarakis, who missed last season with an injury. Tsagarakis showed a propensity for little more than hoisting up a lot of shots as a freshman, but will get hot from time to time. Its unclear how much he will contribute. Sophomore wing Marcel Jones
checks in at an athletic 68. Jones saw little playing time as a freshman, but should become a big contributor over time. The newcomers could provide some help as well. The much traveled Wesley Washington will have three years of eligibility remaining, and is a candidate to start. Freshmen Josh Tarver and Jack McGillis are also capable of fighting for a playing time, though Tarver recently broke his foot and will miss valuable practice time this fall.
The frontcourt takes a hit with the graduation of Lucas, but last years second leading scorer, senior Nick DeWitz
(14.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg), does return. DeWitz surprised many with his tenacity and athleticism around the basket, explosive slashing ability, and accurate outside shooting stroke. It wouldnt be a shock to see him significantly increase his numbers from a year ago. Finesse big man Sasa Cuic
(9.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg) should start next to DeWitz up front. Cuic started the season on a tear, showing off very nice outside touch for a 610 player. However, the increased competition in the Pac-10 wore him down, and he only hit double figures in three games after January 2nd. Burly center Kyle Jeffers will offer a back to the basket scoring presence off the bench, but will need to get in better shape to be a major contributor. John will likely give freshman Calvin Hampton every chance to earn minutes in the big man rotation.
While its hard to get too excited about Oregon State on a national level, fans do have a few reasons to keep interested. DeWitz is one of the more underrated players in the country, and may have some star potential left in him. Any time you start two senior point guards, good things can happen. There is enough talent spread out across the roster to keep things close on most nights. However, in a conference thats loaded at the top, matching last years quasi-success would have to be considered a job well done for Jay John. Recruiting Update:
John has the unenviable task of trying to get Pac-10 level talent to suit up for a program that hasnt attracted Pac-10 level talent in quite some time. Hes still managed to bring in a few quality players over the years, his latest successes coming with Wesley Washington and the Tarver brothers. Josh is a freshman this season, and his brother Seth will join in 2006. Seth is an impressive athlete, but will need to work on his outside shot and overall skill level. John also owns pledges from guards Calvin Haynes and Lathen Wallace, and recently brought in California PF Kenny Lawson for a visit.
Washington State 2005 Record: (12-16, 7-11)
Head Coach: Dick Bennett
SG Thomas Kelati (14.3 ppg)
F Jeff Varem (10.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg)
PF Chris Schlatter (4.8 ppg) Newcomers:
63 G Antonio Chavers, jr, Tyler (TX) JC
64 SG Chris Matthews, Philadelphia, PA
65 SF Rodney Edgerson, Illinois Central JC
66 SF Ivory Clark, Midland (TX) JC
68 PF Caleb Forrest, Pagosa Springs, CO
610 C Aron Baynes
, Australia Rotation:
PG 61 Derrick Low
SG 63 Antonio Chavers, jr
SF 65 Rodney Edgerson, jr
PF 610 Robbie Cowgill, so
C 69 Chris Henry, so
PG Josh Akognon, so
SG Kyle Weaver
SG Chris Matthews, fr
PF Darven Hameling, so
PF Caleb Forrest, fr
C Aron Baynes
Washington State has never been a recruiting powerhouse, and that certainly wasnt the expectation when longtime Wisconsin head man Dick Bennett was hired two years ago. What was expected was typical Bennett basketball - the slow-it-down system, emphasis on defense and efficient play, and a group that is stronger than the sum of its parts. Last season may have been a step in the right direction, as the Cougars were never an easy victory. Nonetheless, Bennett hasnt found the magic solution to get his team out of the lower echelon of the Pac-10 just yet. He now faces the loss of his top two scorers with the graduation of Thomas Kelati and Jeff Varem, and must integrate a six man recruiting class that gives Cougar fans hope for the future.
If there is a proven commodity returning for 2006, it would have to be sophomore big man Robbie Cowgill (6.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg). Despite having a woefully underdeveloped body, Cowgill battled admirably at the center position, and has given the fanbase hope that he could develop into a very good Pac-10 player. Cowgill certainly isnt a track athlete, but he is very light on his feet. He also understands how to get the most out of his body, and will benefit from returning to his natural power forward position. If he can put on a bit more weight, Cowgill has a bright future ahead of him.
The rest of the frontcourt is filled with unknowns, as Bennett must find a replacement for the graduated Jeff Varem. Sophomore Chris Henry was thought to be the new starter at center, but ongoing back problems have sidelined him indefinitely. The new option at center will be freshman Aron Baynes
, who was recruited by numerous other high-major programs out of the Australian Institute of Sport. Also available is freshman power forward Caleb Forrest.
Bennetts offense should be in good hands, as PG Chris Low (7.0 ppg, 2.8 apg) put in an encouraging freshman season. Low is a steady distributor, and shoots the ball better than your stereotypical Washington State guard. One of his main jobs will be to control the tempo by slowing things down, but he also needs to keep the Cougars from going completely dead on the offensive end, like they had the tendency to do last season. Fellow sophomore Josh Akognon (3.9 ppg) will be the backup, and will probably see some time playing next to Low. Another ball-handling option will be junior college transfer Antonio Chavers, who will play both guard spots.
Bennett always manages to find feisty, physical wings to use as the meat of his half-court defense, and this year is no different. Sophomore Kyle Weaver
(4.8 ppg) struggled as a scorer, but Bennett trusted him as a freshman. Also back is senior Randy Green (2.0 ppg). There are several newcomers here that could make a difference, of which JC Rodney Edgerson might make the most immediate impact. Edgerson put up huge numbers at Illinois Central JC, and was expected to step into the go-to scorer's role in place of Kelati. However, a back problem may limit his progress well into the season. Late signee Chris Matthews was recruited by numerous big programs, while JC transfer Ivory Clark also figures into the mix.
It might be easy to see the lack of returning production from a mediocre 2005 squad and knock Washington State all the way to the bottom of the Pac-10, but this is a system program. Bennett has recruited enough talent over the past two seasons to make every game a dogfight, and steal a few wins that he probably shouldnt have. Its highly unlikely that the Cougars would move into the top half of the conference, but it would also be highly improbable to see this team finish in the cellar. Recruiting Update
- You can always count on Dick Bennett to find an interesting player or two to fill in the gaps in his roster. It will be no different in 2006, as the only commitment to date is from New Zealand wing Thomas Abercrombie. Bennett has his sights set on Minnesota combo guard Romain Martin, but like usual, much of this recruiting class may materialize late.
USC 2005 Record: (12-17, 5-13)
Head Coach: Tim Floyd
G Errick Craven (6.3 ppg)
G Derrick Craven (4.1 ppg)
PF Greg Guenther (6.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
PF Jeff McMillian (9.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
C Rory ONeil (9.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg) Newcomers:
511 PG Ryan Francis, Baton Rouge, LA
60 PG Collin Robinson, Diamond Bar, CA
63 SG Sead Odzic, Skokie, IL
610 PF Rousean Cromwell
, Memphis, TN
68 PF Jeremy Barr, Houston, TX
69 PF Keith Wilkinson, Mission Viejo, CA
611 C Abdoulaye Ndiaye
, jr, College of Southern Idaho Rotation:
PG 510 Dwayne Shackelford, sr
SG 64 Gabe Pruitt
SF 64 Lodrick Stewart, jr
PF 66 Nick Young
C Abdoulaye NDiaye, jr
PG Ryan Francis, fr
PG Collin Robinson, fr
SG Sead Odzic, fr
PF Jeremy Barr, fr
PF Rousean Cromwell
The end of the line for Henry Bibby
came quickly and without warning. He started losing basketball games, and eventually lost the respect of his players. After an interlude with Rick Majerus, USC hired another high profile persona in Tim Floyd. Floyd immediately set about reversing the downward spiral this program had been in over the past two seasons, and recruited just about every available high level player this summer. Its not clear what the immediate results will be, but it is obvious that there are some very talented pieces here. Last seasons underachieving senior class is gone, and the team will now turn to scintillating sophomores Gabe Pruitt
and Nick Young
to lead the team. Floyd will rely heavily on freshmen, especially in the frontcourt where nobody returns. Season one might be rough, but Tim Floyd is a proven recruiter and strategist. Having the luck of inheriting two players like Pruitt and Young doesnt hurt, either. Expect the Trojans to take their lumps this season, but quickly return to respectability in the Pac-10.
All four of the holdovers from last season are backcourt players, and all will play very significant roles this season. Where the players used to Bibbys coaching style floundered under the interim coaching staff, freshmen Gabe Pruitt
(12.3 ppg, 3.5 apg) and Nick Young
(11.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg) emerged. Pruitt is everything you could ask for in a point guard prospect tall, athletic, solid floor general skills, and an even better shot. Young is a talented wing blessed with smooth athleticism and a developed body, and can make a difference in numerous different areas. Pruitt and Young were prospects last season, and should develop into stars in 2006. While Floyds situation upon taking the job was less than ideal, he has to be ecstatic to find such talent amidst the rubble of Henry Bibby
Two other backcourt pieces also return. Dwayne Shackelford (5.2 ppg) provided a steady hand at the point guard, and will start next to Pruitt this season. He needs to improve as an offensive threat, and will be pushed by newcomers Ryan Francis and Collin Robinson. Floyd recruited as many ball-handlers as he could find, and appears to want to play at least two point guards at all times this season. Also back is junior Lodrick Stewart (12.1 ppg), an impressive athletic specimen at the wing. Stewart has world class leaping ability and can put points up in a hurry, but isnt a very smart player. He needs to improve his overall skill level on the perimeter, and become more of a factor on the defensive end.
The frontcourt is completely up for grabs. Four newcomers will vie for time, and Floyd actually did a nice job of getting a few talented bodies in uniform for this fall. Abdoulaye Ndiaye
may be the most ready to play, after contributing at powerhouse Southern Idaho JC for the past two seasons. He is 611, well built, and athletic. Jeremy Barr and RouSean Cromwell
are two touted freshman recruits that were lured to campus with promises of early playing time. Barr is the powerful brute, while Cromwell is a sleek, athletic presence. Floyd is hoping fellow freshman Keith Wilkinson can provide an outside shooting presence.
This team isnt going to have problems putting points on the board. Floyd is clearly looking to implement an up-tempo system, and has the players to make it work in the backcourt. Nonetheless, this team is going to have major problems on the defensive end, and across the board in the frontcourt. This team is way too young, and is basically going to be forming an identity from scratch. Floyd has recruited a few big men that should turn into players down the road, but will be learning on the job in 2006. Given the circumstances, Floyds opening roster looks pretty impressive. However, his ability to recruit probably wont make this a winning season for the Trojans. Recruiting Update:
Floyd is making major inroads on the west coast, already having locked up top players in the 2007 and 2008 classes. Trojan fans will have reason to get excited next fall when top 50 power forward Taj Gibson
joins the team. Also on board for 2006 are combo forward Casey Cunningham and wing Andre McFarland. Its becoming very obvious that USC is already a major player on the west coast recruiting scene once again.
Arizona State 2005 Record: (18-14, 7-11)
Postseason: NIT, lost to UNLV in 1st round
Head Coach: Rob Evans
PG Jason Braxton (5.4 ppg, 3.6 apg)
SG Steve Moore (12.2 ppg)
SF Tim Pierce
PF Ike Diogu
(22.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg)
PF Keith Wooden
PF Will Fameni Newcomers:
63 PG Antwi Atuahene
, so, Trinity Valley (TX) JC
69 PF Sylvester Seay, San Bernadino, CA
69 PF Jeff Pendergraph
, Etiwanda, CA
68 PF Bruno Claudio, jr, College of Southern Idaho JC Rotation
PG 63 Antwi Atuahene
SG 62 Tyrone Jackson, jr
SF 62 Kevin Kruger, jr
PF 67 Allen Morrill, sr
C 68 Serge Angounou, jr
SF 67 Bryson Krueger, sr
PF 69 Sylvester Seay, fr
PF 69 Jeff Pendergraph
PF 68 Bruno Claudio, jr
Things are falling apart quickly for Rob Evans at Arizona State. Despite the services of Ike Diogu
, perhaps the best post player in the country last season, the Sun Devils struggled in Pac-10 play. There was no consistency around Diogu, and Evans couldnt figure out a way to take advantage of the constant attention his star big man received. Arizona State finished in the bottom half of the conference, and was never really a serious NCAA tourney contender. Diogu moved on to the greener pastures of the NBA, which in and of itself would probably sink the Sun Devils 2006 chances. In addition to the loss of Diogu, Evans is missing most of the players that he originally recruited for the time when his big man would leave. Tron Smith, Wilfried Fameni, Chris Low, Keith Wooden, and Tim Pierce have transferred out over the past three seasons. What is left is a shell of a Pac-10 roster. Evans still recruits well enough for his program to be an occasional factor in the conference, but he hasnt been able to develop his players, or even keep them on the team.
Arizona State has little returning when it comes to proven production, but one face you might recognize from last season is combo guard Kevin Kruger (11.0 ppg, 3.4 apg). Hes more athletic than you would expect, and is a threat to light it up from the outside. Kruger isnt the type of player capable of leading a Pac-10 team, or maybe even starting for one. But he will be Evans number one option heading into 2006.
Starting point guard Jason Braxton graduated, and the player Evans recruited to take over, Seketoure Henry, never made it on campus. Tyrone Jackson (3.6 ppg) was supposed to make an impact out of junior college, but was a major disappointment in his first season. If Jackson isnt up to the task of running the offense, expect to see a lot of a new JC transfer, former Rutgers recruit Antwi Atuahene
. Atuahene was touted coming out of high school, produced at Trinity Valley (TX) Community College, and has the potential to develop into a very nice player, if he has the opportunity to adjust to a higher level of basketball. The only other member of the backcourt is lanky wing Bryson Krueger (6.7 ppg), who can put the ball in the basket, but is far from a complete player.
The Sun Devil frontcourt is in similarly dire straits, but Evans has managed to bolster it a bit with a couple of intriguing newcomers. Freshmen Sylvester Seay and Jeff Pendergraph
both have the size and athleticism to play Pac-10 basketball, but both also need to bulk up significantly before they are ready for this level of basketball. Also on board is Bruno Claudio, who may be slightly more prepared physically, but didnt even start on his junior college team. Junior Serge Angounou (8.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is the one returnee of note. Angounou has made it back on the court after some serious injury problems, but probably isnt ever going to be the player he could have become. Also back are blue collar big men Allen Morrill (3.0 ppg) and Craig Austin.
Its usually very easy to find the silver lining in the unpredictable world of college hoops, but Im having trouble when it comes to Arizona State. Evans hasnt proven he can put a winning team on the floor when he has the talent. Now the talent is gone, and his time is about up. On paper, this is one of a handful of the worst major conference teams in America. Barring a miraculous development, Arizona State is in for a rough season. Recruiting Update:
Despite being on the hot seat, Evans continues to plug along on the recruiting path. Seketoure Henry, a top 2005 recruit, is still committed despite having to take a year of prep school. Local guard Christian Polk
is another nice pickup, and Evans has a pledge from Texas power forward George Odufuwa as well. As long as Evans future remains up in the air, so will the chances of these recruits ever putting on a Sun Devil uniform.