These are no Siskels and Eberts, but a handful of Pac-12 beat writers had the best – or worst? – view of what was one rotten men’s basketball season. Jeff Faraudo of the Oakland Tribune (Cal), Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic (Arizona State), Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune (Washington) and Tom Kensler of the Denver Post (Colorado) join the Daily News’ Jon Gold for a roundtable discussion on what doomed the conference…and what it can do to fix itself.
5) Who is the future of the conference, either current players or recruits?
Jon Gold:: If UCLA reels in the class it dreams of – adding Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker to the already-signed Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams – then the Bruins are right back among the nation’s elite. That hinges, though, on the maturation of Joshua Smith. If he works off the weight this summer, he’ll be the conference’s best player next year.
Jeff Faraudo:: Hard to know how many of the current young players will decide they are ready to conquer the NBA. I don’t expect to see Wroten or Terrence Ross at UW next season. Arizona has a great recruiting class coming in and they should be substantially better next season.
Doug Haller: : You know what? Colorado guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker will be fun to watch the next three years. Dinwiddie was a Pac-12 All-Freshman choice this season and Booker (he reminds me of Venoy Overton in some ways) was just as effective. But the future of the conference resides in Tucson. I hate to pump up a recruiting class too much — because truth is, you never know how a player will turn out — but Sean Miller is recruiting on another level right now. Can’t wait to see Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley, Gabe York and Kaleb Tarczewski in college.
Bill Oram: : I’m hearing good things about Larry Krystkowiak’s son, Luc, but he’s about a decade away. Assuming we’re looking in the more immediate future, I don’t see how you can start anywhere other than with Arizona’s heralded class. If Kaleb Tarczewski ends up being as good as advertised, he will dominate this conference. The Pac-12 has never been a league for great centers — OK, Bill and Lew, I hear you, not “never” — but a skilled 7-footer is rare. UCLA’s class is also elite, and will be even greater if it can the country’s top recruit, Shabazz Muhammad. I’ll tell you what: If you want the Pac-12 to be nationally relevant again, having two of the top five recruiting classes in the country is a good start. While I think there are good, young players in the Pac-12, I’m not sure how much of a “future” they have in the conference. Tony Wroten may stick around, but don’t bet on it. Guards like Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe have the potential to be even more elite in the next couple of seasons, but they also have NBA potential.
Ryan Divish: : People may think I’m crazy, but the future of this Pac-12 conference are players like David Kravish of Cal, Desmond Simmons and Andrew Andrews of Washington, Davonte Lacy of Washington State, Eric Moreland of OSU, Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker of Colorado and Chasson Randle of Stanford. The conference has been decimated by players either transferring (usually from UCLA) or leaving for the draft earlier than they should. The players listed above are players that aren’t going to leave early. They are four- and five-yea players. With the exception of Andrews, who redshirted, all the other players saw significant minutes as freshmen this season and made contributions. Those types of players provide a better foundation for teams than one-and-dones. Just look at Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp at Cal or how much Solomon Hill means to Arizona and EJ Singler and Garrett Sim mean to Oregon. Good quality upper classmen make the league strong consistently.
Tom Kensler:: Wroten, Cal’s Shasson Randle and Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie may have been the top freshmen. And remember, Cal’s Allen Crabbe, Washington’s Terrence Ross and Colorado double-double machine Andre Roberson are only sophomores. Arizona’s incoming recruits will change the face of the conference, and incoming Colorado signee Josh Scott, a 6-9 forward-center, will be a difficult matchup.