Pac-12 Basketball Preview: Part I

College Basketball is just around the corner, and the Pac-12 promises to provide another entertaining season. Here is a quick look at teams from Oregon, Washington, and the Bay Area in part I of the Pac-12 outlook.

Stanford Cardinal (14-17, 6-12)

Jerod Haase enters his second season as head coach with most returners from last season on the roster. Stanford struggled on the road, losing 10 of 11 while also trying to build fan support at home. Coach Haase stated after being introduced last season to get Maples Pavilion buzzing from the past.

Stanford had close losses at home against Oregon and Arizona but overall had small attendance numbers. The preseason media poll positioned the Cardinal to finish fifth in the Pac-12 but could exceed higher.

Reid Travis returns after a stellar season where he led the team in scoring (17.4ppg) and rebounding (8.9rpg). He earned First Team All-Pac-12 last season and will look to continue impacting the game. Travis may likely turn pro after the season despite having one more year left of eligibility.

Robert Cartwright, Dorian Pickens, and Michael Humphrey will anchor Travis. First-year students, Kezie Okpala and Daejon Davis, are two players to look out for on Stanford. With the experience and promising young talent, Stanford could be a dark horse candidate to win the Pac-12.

California Golden Bears (21-12, 10-8)

A new head coach and need to fill starting spots vacated by departed players leave uncertainty for Cal this season. Cuonzo Martin went to become head coach at Missouri and must need to fill the void left by Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird – both drafted in the NBA. Wyking Jones, an assistant under Martin, takes over coaching duties.

Kingsley Okoroh will be tasked with scoring points in the paint as Cal is replacing their entire starting five from last season. The Bears should get an offensive boost from Kentucky transfer forward Marcus Lee. NCAA transfer rules prevented Lee from playing last season at Cal.

Juhwan Harris-Dyson could make an immediate impact as the four-star prospect can strike quickly in the transition game. Cal will need all the help on offense as the team goes through a rebuilding year.

Oregon Ducks (33-6, 16-2)

Last season was remarkable as the Oregon Ducks reached the Final Four and almost made a trip to the championship game. Until the football program gets back onto the national stage, Oregon has turned into a basketball school.

But for Coach Dana Altman, the turnover from last season is a critical area of concern. The core three of Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, and Jordan Bell are in the NBA. All three were the driving force of the Ducks making waves through Brooks’ buzzer beaters and Dorsey’s Mr. March performance.

With the success of the program under Altman, better recruits promise to keep Oregon legitimate in the coming years. Despite the loss of the core three, Payton Pritchard, Roman Sorkin, and Keith Smith will be the likely three to carry the offense. First-year students, Troy Brown, and M.J. Cage are highly talented prospects who look to factor into the scoring this season.

Coach Altman has been successful in the transfer area and hoped Elijah Brown could continue the trend. Brown averaged 20.9 points in two seasons with New Mexico and will expect to be the emphasis of attack for the Ducks. He is also the son of Mike Brown, an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors.

Due to the high turnover, Oregon did not make an appearance in the polls. The Ducks will be contenders in the Pac-12 but how quickly Coach Altman can put together a cohesive unit will be the question at the start.

Oregon State Beavers (19-13, 9-9)

Coach Wayne Tinkle returns his top-two players from last season with little turnover compared to Oregon. Stephen Thompson Jr. and Drew Eubanks declared for the NBA Draft but decided to return to Oregon State. Eubanks (14.5ppg) and Thompson Jr. (16.3ppg) led the Beavers last season and expected the upward trend to continue.

The Beavers hope to have a healthy Tres Tinkle this season after only appearing in six games last season. An injury to Tinkle forced him to miss most of the season.

Thompson Jr. will be with by his younger brother, Ethan; both played together when two were in high school. Ethan excels in the transition and the up-tempo offense which could prove problems for defenders.

Oregon State, like Stanford, can be a surprise Pac-12 team this season.

Washington Huskies (9-22, 2-16)

Lorenzo Lamar brought in top recruits and produced Markelle Fultz, the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. But a dismal season ultimately cost Lamar his job and was dismissed. He is now an assistant at Arizona.

Mike Hopkins enters his first season as head coach after serving as an assistant for Jim Boeheim for 20 years at Syracuse. The defense was an issue last season for the Huskies as the team relied heavily on Fultz and the offense to be the best defense. The plan never worked out, and Hopkins is hoping to change the formula this season.

David Crisp and Noah Dickerson return who will both likely carry the load on offense. The two finished second and third in scoring for the team behind Fultz last season. Dickerson led the Huskies in rebounds (8.2rpg).

Washington is in a similar situation like Cal with a new coach and tasked to rebuild the program. The Huskies will likely have another tough going again this season.

Washington State Cougars (13-18, 6-12)

Ernie Kent may feel the heat should the Cougars not improve this season. Picked to finish last in the Pac-12, Coach Kent faces a tall task with only one starting returner from last season.

Malachi Flynn (9.7ppg) must carry the team after earning conference All-freshman honors last season. The Cougars are inexperienced, and with a majority of the roster consisting of first-year students, sophomores, and juniors, Coach Kent is starting from nothing.

Unless players from the Cougars’ bench last season can step up into a starting role, the team will unlikely get a footing this season in the Pac-12. Washington State fans can only hope fall comes quickly to football.

Part II of the Pac-12 Basketball Preview coming soon.

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