Posted on October 24, 2022
Pac-12 Media Day is Wednesday and the Media Preseason Poll is expected to be released earlier that day.
In the spirit of transparency, the list below reflects my vote and doubles as a mini preview for each team’s upcoming season.
I have never been one to back down from bold preseason projections and this year is no different.
I am admittedly lower on Colorado than most and correspondingly higher on Washington. At the same time, I expect my projection of Stanford to be fairly accurate.
As always, preseason projections are susceptible to misguesses, which are sure to be corrected in postseason evaluations.
But the list below is how I view the 12 teams in the Conference at the onset of the 2022-23 season.
Key Losses: Johnny Juzang; Jules Bernard
Key Additions: Amari Bailey; Adem Bona
Led by Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell, the Bruins have all the pieces to make another deep tournament run.
Junior Jaylen Clark is set for a breakout year, David Singleton returns for his final season, and Will McClendon is healthy.
Add in two five-star freshmen in Amari Bailey and Adem Bona, and Mick Cronin has a Final Four-caliber roster.
Key Losses: Jacob Young; Franck Kepnang
Key Additions: Kel’el Ware; Keeshawn Barthelemy; Jermaine Couisnard
Five-star freshman Kel’el Ware has been added to a frontcourt already bolstered by N’Faly Dante and Nate Bittle.
In the backcourt, Will Richardson returns for his senior season along with Quincy Guerrier and Rivaldo Soares.
Combined with transfers Jermaine Couisnard and Keeshawn Barthelemy, it’s easy to see why many are high on the Ducks this season.
Key Losses: Bennedict Mathurin; Christian Koloko; Dalen Terry
Key Additions: Henri Veesaar; Courtney Ramey; Dylan Anderson; Kylan Boswell
Pelle Larsson, Kerr Kriisa, Azuolas Tubelis, and Oumar Ballo are all back to run Year Two of Lloyd’s “European Style” offense.
Texas transfer guard Courtney Ramey adds a steady hand to the backcourt, while highly touted Estonian big Henri Veesaar is set to do damage.
And with a breakout year anticipated from sophomore Adama Bal, along with contributions from freshmen Kylan Boswell, Filip Borovicanin, and Dylan Anderson, the Wildcats are a force to be reckoned with.
Key Losses: Isaiah Mobley; Chavez Goodwin; Max Agbonkpolo; Ethan Anderson
Key Additions: Vincent Iwuchukwu; Kijani Wright
Sidelined for the foreseeable future, the responsibilities of the frontcourt will rest with four-star freshman Kijani Wright, Josh Morgan, and Harrison Hornery.
The contribution from Russian freshman Iaroslav Niagu could become pivotal, too, if he’s ready to play. The backcourt is set with the return of Boogie Ellis, Drew Peterson, and Reese-Dixon Waters.
But until the questions in the frontcourt are answered, many will remain hesitant about the Trojans.
Key Losses: Jaiden Delaire; Lukas Kisunas
Key Additions: Jaylen Thompson
Led at guard by Michael O’Connell, the Tree arguably have one of the more complete rosters in the Conference.
Isa Silva should take a step forward in his sophomore season, Maxime Raynaud has a dangerously high ceiling, while Brandon Angel, Max Murrell, and James Keefe all willingly accept their roles.
The synergy and chemistry of the group sets the Cardinal apart from other teams in the Pac-12, and the addition of four-star freshman Jaylen Thompson should only help.
Key Losses: Terrell Brown Jr.; Daejon Davis; Emmitt Matthews Jr.; Nate Roberts
Key Additions: Keion Brooks; Franck Kepnang; Noah Williams; Koren Johnson
The two-time Conference Coach of the Year may have lost Terrell Brown Jr. and Emmitt Matthews Jr., but he added Kentucky transfer Keion Brooks, Oregon transfer Franck Kepnang, Washington State transfer Noah Williams, and four-star freshman Koren Johnson.
Supplemented by returning guards PJ Fuller, Jamal Bey, and Cole Bajema, UW suddenly looks like a capable team.
Not to mention the expected sophomore jump from Jackson Grant and the experience Langston Wilson returns after playing in Hopkins’ system for a year.
7. Arizona State
Key Losses: Jalen Graham; Marreon Jackson; Kimani Lawrence
Key Additions: Frankie Collins; Desmond Cambridge Jr.; Austin Nunez; Warren Washington
Needing to address size problems, Hurley brought in Nevada transfer Warren Washington and freshman Duke Brennan.
But the determining factor for the improvement in the frontcourt arguably rests with Enoch Boakye. With size almost unmatched in the Pac-12, Boakye’s sophomore jump could change the trajectory of ASU’s season.
Still, led by Dj Horne, Arizona State has a complimentary roster that should produce victories.
Michigan transfer Frankie Collins, Nevada transfer Desmond Cambridge Jr, and four-star freshman Austin Nunez bolster an already respectable backcourt, while a healthy Marcus Bagley could make the Sun Devils dangerous.
8. Washington State
Key Losses: Michael Flowers; Efe Abogidi; Tyrell Roberts; Noah Williams
Key Additions: Adrame Diongue; Justin Powell
But it gets worse.
Noah Williams transferred, too, and Efe Abogidi jumped to the G-League, eliminating WSU’s No. 3 and No. 4 scorers. All in all, Smith lost his top four scoring threats and didn’t hit the transfer portal with enough success.
Tennessee’s Justin Powell has been brought in, but he only averaged 3.7 points for the Volunteers and started just a single game. St. Mary’s Jabe Mullins transferred in as well, yet he only put up 2.9 points per game last year and didn’t have a single start.
There’s no denying Mouhamed Gueye is elite and four-star freshman Adrame Diongue should contribute, but with serious questions in the backcourt, it’s hard to see WSU contending this year.
Key Losses: Jabari Walker; Evan Battey; Keeshawn Barthelemy
Key Additions: Ethan Wright; Jalen Gabbidon; Joe Hurlburt
Jabari Walker left for the NBA, Evan Battey graduated, and Keeshawn Barthelemy transferred to Oregon.
A solid core returns with KJ Simpson, Tristan da Silva, and Julian Hammond III, but the remainder of CU’s roster is arguably unproven.
To address the youth and inexperience issues, Tad Boyle brought in Ivy League transfers Ethan Wright and Jalen Gabbidon. The duo each put up respectable numbers at Princeton and Yale, but the step up in talent to the Pac-12 is dramatic.
Colorado’s season arguably rests on their production. If Wright and Gabbidon struggle, the Buffaloes could be in for a long year.
Key Losses: Both Gach; Riley Battin
Key Additions: Keba Keita; Mike Saunders Jr.
Lazar Stefanovic was one of the top freshman guards in the Pac-12 and should make a noticeable jump in his sophomore year.
Marco Anthony returns for his final season after starting 27 games, Rollie Worster enters his junior year after starting 31 contests, and Branden Carlson is back after getting the starting nod in 23 of the 24 games he played.
All in all, Smith returns five of his top seven leading scorers.
Cincinnati transfer Mike Saunders Jr. has been added, too, after averaging 7.3 points per game for the Bearcats. And freshman three-star big man Keba Keita should carve out a role.
The result should be an improved Utah team.
Key Losses: Grant Anticevich; Andre Kelly; Jordan Shepherd
Key Additions: ND Okafor; Devin Askew
But he landed Texas transfer Devin Askew in arguably one of the most shocking recruiting developments of the offseason.
Highly respected coming out of high school, Askew’s career hasn’t panned out as expected. But returning to the Bay Area promises to electrify his career.
Freshman big ND Okafor was a solid add, too, and should contribute from Game One.
And returning Jalen Celestine, Joel Brown, and Sam Alajiki in the backcourt, plus Kuany Kuany and Lars Thiemann in the frontcourt, California has the potential to upset a few teams.
12. Oregon State
Key Losses: Jarod Lucas; Warith Alatishe; Roman Silva; Maurice Calloo; Dashawn Davis
Key Additions: Jordan Pope
The remaining core players from his 2020-21 Elite 8 team have all moved on, along with the Pac-12’s leading assist man in Dashawn Davis.
The production lost would normally be described as devastating, but OSU had such a poor year that changes were necessary.
Fortunately, Glenn Taylor Jr. returns for his sophomore season. The forward is now the face of the program and should enjoy an even further expanded role.
Three-star guard Jordan Pope is a respectable pickup, too, and should help put Oregon State basketball back on the right track.
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