Pac-12 Hoops Preview: Up for Grabs
Pac-12 Hoops Preview: Up for Grabs

This article is part of our Draft Kit series.

Before Brandon Ashley's foot injury, I thought Arizona had the best team in the country last season. They could play a variety of styles and had enough weapons to win in almost any way. Ashley wasn't the most important player on the team, but his absence caused a lack of depth. Arizona almost beat Wisconsin for the right to play in the Final Four. The Wildcats have Ashley back in addition to center Kaleb Tarczewski, point guard T.J. McConnell and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. They also have a nice freshman to be named later.

It appears that the rest of the conference will be playing for second again in 2014-15. Almost every other team in the top half of the Pac-12 last year suffered major personnel losses. Only three teams finished below .500, so there was a wide middle in the conference. It is probably going to be a mess once again.

Top Three

Delon Wright, guard, Utah Utes - Based on a cumulative stat that includes averages of points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, Wright is the best returning player in the top two tiers of college basketball. In his first year with the Utes, Dorrell's brother offered up 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks. The question isn't whether he can improve upon those numbers, but maintain them. Wright wasn't much of a 3-point shooter (22.2 percent) last year, so there may be some worry that he spends too much time on the perimeter.

Chasson Randle, guard, Stanford Cardinal -
Unlike Wright, Randle will not provide balanced numbers. He is the third leading returning scorer (behind Davonte Lacy and our next player) and added 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 35.1 minutes for the Cardinal. After hitting just 42 percent of his field goals in his first two seasons as a Stanford starter, Randle bumped up to 47.4 percent from the field. He also nearly doubled his free throws attempted from his underclassman years. Stanford has some instability in the frontcourt, but it has a rock solid guard with Randle.

Joseph Young, guard, Oregon Ducks -
Some people thought that Young might struggle a bit after transferring from Houston to the Pac-12. Amping the competition and leaving home turned out to be no problem for the 6-foot-2 Houston native. He averaged 18.9 points and hit 48 percent of his field goals, 41.5 percent from the 3-point line, and 88.1 percent from the line. Young only provided 1.9 assists and 2.8 boards. The Ducks' roster is thin so Young should get as many shots as he can handle.

Top Freshman

Stanley Johnson, guard/forward, Arizona Wildcats - Johnson is the top rated recruit in the conference and he steps into a situation that should help him produce very nice numbers. With Nick Johnson gone, the Wildcats will be looking for scoring and the new Johnson can fill it up. He put in 25 points per game as a senior on an undefeated team in California. The Wildcats also lost Aaron Gordon who provided defense and rebounding. Without putting too much on the 6-6 Johnson, he can board and defend as well. He won't last long in drafts.

Top Transfer

Katin Reinhardt, guard, USC Trojans - Over the past few years, the Mountain West has vied for western supremacy with the Pac-12 in college basketball. There is little question that Reinhardt is stepping down from UNLV to USC, which hasn't sniffed the NCAA tournament in the last three seasons. The 6-5 sophomore won't have to worry about battling fellow Trojans for shots. He averaged 10.1 points for UNLV two seasons ago and should be primed to lead the coach Andy Enfield offense.

Pair of Sleepers

Jabari Bird, guard, California Golden Bears - Ah, the post-hype sleeper. Not every big time college recruit is going to make good in his freshman season. Bird struggled in his first year with the Golden Bears and put up 8.3 points, 2.0 boards, and 1.1 assists. He hit just 32.3 percent of his 3-pointers (and took three per game). He hurt his ankle in late December and took a long time to get back up to speed. Bird flew in the NIT with 19 points in a win over Arkansas and 20 points in the quarterfinal loss to SMU.

Tony Parker, forward, UCLA Bruins -
With the moderately talented Wear brothers ahead of him, Parker struggled to find a role with last year's Bruins. The 6-9, 260, forward should be able to forge significant playing time as the now elder statesman in the UCLA frontcourt. In just 17.2 minutes, Parker provided 6.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.6 blocks. UCLA brought in four recruits who are 6-9 and taller, so Parker will have to earn his playing time. If his skills haven't atrophied over the past two seasons with slim playing time, the non-French Parker could be in a for a nice season.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Perry Missner
Missner covers college basketball for RotoWire. A veteran fantasy sports writer, he once served on the executive board for the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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