Pac-12 Roundup for August 7th 2011 (Part Two)

Aug 7, 2011, 11:46 PM

On July 29th Kamp was the focus in Doug Haller of azcentral.com’s “Pac-12 Insider” column. Camp and Gutierrez are the leaders on this Bear team and his comments to Haller illustrate that.

“As we look back, we’re happy with what we accomplished last year with all the work we put in and what we were able to get out of it. We had some adversity and we just kept fighting. We know that’s something we need to continue doing next
season. And with that being said, as happy as we were with how we performed, there’s still a great deal of improvement. We have so many guys coming back and a few really good additions. It’s truly exciting to know we can just build on what we’ve already done.”

Kamp is a 5th year senior that appears ready to have a remarkable final season. Bleacher Report on July 28th picked Harper as one of the, “Top 25 Players You Might Not Know, but Should”.

“Kamp had a career day last season against Derrick Williams and Arizona, as he put up 33 points to go along with 10 rebounds. If Kamp can put it all together on a nightly basis, he could certainly be a player to reckon with in the new Pac-12.”

Solomon, Kamp, soph guard Allen Crabbe (easily the Bears best NBA prospect), Gutierrez and Cobbs is a nice looking starting line-up, but what about depth? Up front it could be a bit thin, unless freshman David Kravish is ready to contribute. Between Kravish and Seattle’s Christian Behrens, David is more ready physically.

Athletic energy guy junior Bak Bak will likely get most of the back-up minutes and may be one of the more dynamic back-up posts in the league, but there isn’t much size. A horse like Kamp can take the Cal far though, especially if Solomon is able to take some heat off of Harper. Guards and wings though for the Bears are plentiful.

Last year’s starter Brandon Smith is going to provide solid depth, while the combination of shooters in red-shirt Alex Rossi and sophs Jeff Powers and Emerson Murray should be more than enough depth at the 2-3 spots. I really think that Cal
is going to be quite a bit better and that could be enough to win the league. Cobbs should be the biggest difference.

On Thursday ESPN reported that Cal will face Georgia in the Sprint Center in Kansas City MO, as part of the CBE Classic. The Bears will then face either Missouri or Notre Dame in either the championship of the 4-team event or the 3rd place
game.

I think that Cal can win this event, but neither game will be easy. Neither will the Pac-12, but the Bears have the talent and coaching to make a run this year similar to that of the 2009-2010 team that won the conference. The main reason why they are not getting more hype as preseason favorites is that the league is better overall than 2-years ago.

That team featured better shooters for sure in Robertson, Pac-10 POY Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher, but this team is more versatile.

Stanford post Andy Brown is not giving up college hoops, despite three major setbacks caused by three knee surgeries in 18-months. In a blog post in Yahoo, Brown’s story was told and according to a surgeon, the latest procedure “did more
than what normally needs to be done because he’s proven to us that wasn’t enough”.

If Brown were to come back to join 5th year senior Josh Owens and budding star Dwight Powell (among others), the Cardinal could very well be even better this year and certainly in the future. Brown is known as a versatile player and was highly thought at Mater Dei High School in Orange County CA. If he can play, he would likely get a medical red-shirt.

On Thursday Yahoo also chose Stanford’s Brown as one of it’s “Breakout Back court players for 2011-12”.

“This 6-6 swingman moved into Stanford’s starting lineup for the final 12 games of his freshman season, and he scored in double figures in eight of those contests. He had two 21-point games – against Oregon State and Seattle – during that stretch. Brown averaged 8.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 23.9 minutes last season to make the Pac-10’s all-freshman team. He also ranked second on the team with 42 3-pointers. Brown spent this summer playing for the U.S. under-19 team that placed
fifth in the FIBA World Championships.”

The U-19 team was a bomb, but Brown is a very good fit to replace and possibly even upgrade the Cardinal, after the loss of wing Jeremy Green to the pros. Frankly, a line-up of frosh PG Chasson Randle, Brown, Huestis, Powell and Owens, with considerable depth is pretty scarey looking. If these young guns gain experience mid-season, this could be the year.

Oregon 5th year senior post transfer Olu Ashaolu was chosen by Bleacher Report as one of the, “10 Most Influential Transfers for 2011-12” on July 23rd.

“In his last season with the (Louisiana Tech) Bulldogs, Ashaolu was among the top five players on his squad in nearly ever statistical category including minutes per game (2), points per game (2), rebounds per game (1), assists per game (4), blocks per game (4), steals per game (3) and field goal percentage (2).”

The Ducks are really stepping it up with Joseph, Brown, Singler, Ashaolu and Woods as potential starters, with quality depth in Loyd, Sim, Nared, Emory and Jacob, plus some pretty good frosh as well. The Ducks are deep and have the look of a top-25 team again.

According to ESPN on Wednesday, OSU will play Texas in the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J. as part of the TicketCity Legends Classic on November 19th. The Beavs will then face either Vanderbilt or NC State in either championship or the 3rd place game. ESPN’s Katz seemed to feel that OSU stood a chance against the Longhorns.

“Texas-Oregon State is intriguing. The Beavers have a chance to pull off a significant win in the non conference, something that has been noticeably missing under Robinson. OSU has had its share of decent Pac-10 wins, but has missed out on that signature victory outside of league play. This will be a tremendous test for the Beavers against a young, ripe Texas team.”

Katz also seemed hopeful that sophomore guard Roberto Nelson will start to live up to the hype this year.

“Nelson was a highly touted recruit for the Beavers, but had to wait a year to be eligible and then had an erratic first season. He should be ready for a breakout campaign this winter. Getting off to a great start would certainly help. The stage is set for Nelson.”

The stage is set for the Beavers, with Cunningham, Nelson, Collier, soph guard Ahmad Starks and junior center Joe Burton as a nice starting line-up. But as in the theater, when you tell someone to “Break a leg” you don’t mean it literally.

OSU is probably too thin yet to make a really big run, but the talent is there to make some major strides this season.

UCLA has had a reputation, based on the success of the great John Wooden, as an “elite program”, if not the top program ever historically in college hoops. Coach Ben Howland has been very successful in recruiting at a high, high level, but in recent years has developed a stigma in AAU circles, according to numerous reports.

CBS Sports on July 25th attempted to dispel the rumors and diffuse the bad press, but talking about how well Howland’s kids have done in the NBA. Howland told CBS that his defensive philosophy, while sometimes less fun than running and gunning, is what gives his players an advantage in the NBA.

“I think one of the things that helps our guys is that they go into the league knowing how to guard. NBA coaches don’t want to play guys who are going to go in there and screw it up defensively. Our guys learn how to stay in front of their
own guy.”

Howland has not had much trouble getting talent to UCLA, whether it is the location, the close proximity of “agent city” (LA), the focus of adidas (who I believe view UCLA as their priority #1 in the west) or the legacy of Wooden that gives him an advantage.

The piece attempt to say that other than Kevin Love and Jrue Holiday, Howland has made guys who were not good prospects into NBA players. I have spoken with a number of talent evaluators over the years that have told me that this is not true and that Howland beat out huge competition to get those players.

In the class of 2008 and in other classes, my sources have told me that Howland recruited kids to get them away from league rivals like UW and Cal. UCLA has always gotten the kids they wanted and the Howland era is more of the same. I
believe that Ben has been hard to deal with as well as used “tough love” as a basketball coach.

Also on July 25th ESPN blogger Eamonn Brennan did a post asking if the commits by Artis and 2012 wing Jordan Adams were signs that UCLA was back in recruiting. In the case of Adams, the hiring of AAU power broker Korey McCray likely played a role.

That goes back to the adidas connection, as McCray’s old team the Atlanta Celtics for which he was “CEO” (talk about a thinly disguised way to represent that you are in fact a business). My question for those that are trying to sell Salinas as not really involved, who was the “CEO” of Houston Hoops?

As far as Artis goes, his uncle is a coach for the Oakland Soldiers (Derrick Artis). Sources have pointed out to me that Mark Olivier is the “money man” of that AAU powerhouse, but up until now nearly every big name on the Soldiers has gone to a Nike school. Artis picking UCLA would seem to spoil that theory.

The word I got from a solid contact in the By Area is that Artis wanted to go to a big name school and after Bookert made him look bad in Las Vegas in July, the others, besides UCLA moved away and Artis thought that he should grab the offer
while it was on the table. Artis is a great player though that will likely make a strong Pac-12 career for himself.

There’s the legacy working for UCLA. If it’s not one thing it’s another and UCLA is hard to mess up as a front runner, though it is also a place where the fans and even the players have sometimes unrealistic expectations. One thing that UCLA fans can count on and Pac-12 teams should fear is junior post Reeves Nelson.

On July 23rd Bleacher Report chose Nelson as one of the “Top 10 Double-Double Dudes” in college hoops and that may be an understatement. Nelson is really good, should be the best post on the deepest front court in the nation and is in my
opinion a solid candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year, depending on who wins the regular season title.

Rivals agreed with me, as to Reeves value, as they chose him on Tuesday as one of the top Breakout players in 2011-12.

On July 26th CBS Sports reported that sophomore Bruin post Josh Smith was 10-pounds heavier than this time last off-season, according to Howland.

I’ve heard worse reports on the rumor mill, but if Howland is admitting it then it is likely that he is not in better shape, which he needs to be if he wants to be a high draft pick and UC:A fans need him to be if they want to have that break through season they are hoping for.

That news was nothing more than a little rain on a week of summer days with the recruiting developments for Bruin fans, but on July 27th word got out that senior PG Jerime Anderson was arrested for grand theft. He was charged with stealing a lap top computer and suspended from the team.

Though the Bruins have senior Lazeric Jones at that position, Anderson was their best returning threat from 3-point land and showed solid improvement last season. The hope for Bruin fans was that Jerime would put it all together for his senior year and help lead his team. Now the question is, if he is guilty can Howland use him? Who will back up Jones?

On July 29th in the LA Times Anderson’s lawyer danced around the question by saying “”One can draw inferences from that” when asked if Jerime had done anything wrong. The lawyer seems to be angling for a break from the court because Anderson had no previous problems like this. A judge may be lenient in a 1st time situation like this, but can Howland.

It wasn’t a good situation and it got worse on Monday when numerous news sources confirmed that despite the arrest Anderson would be hosting a party that he had hosted for a few years and for which his name was being used for promotion.

On Tuesday Anderson apologized publicly for what had happened, though his lawyer stated that it was not an admission of guilt. He also stated that he would not be attending the party. According to ESPN on Monday, “will be arraigned on Sept. 27 at the LAX branch of the Los Angeles Superior Court”.

The Bruins will be playing in the Maui Invitational, with or without Jerime on November 21st, as UCLA faces host Chaminade. Georgetown or Kansas will be their next opponent.

The Bruins are certainly one of the favorites to win the Pac-12, even without Anderson, but with him they somehow seemed safely ahead. A senior PG is a huge luxury in conference play and with Jerime and Jones the Bruins had two, to go with
such a talented group of big men and some nice fill ins on the wing. Anderson hurts Howland’s efforts all the way around.

USC was one of the last team selected to the NCAA Tournament last season and according to the Hoops Report way back on July 3rd, they will in fact be the last team in at #68. I think that this is solid reasoning by Hoops Report’s Ryan Feldman, as the Trojans will have to get past five teams that I feel are better than them. Will the Pac-12 get in six?

I think so and that team will likely be USC, with Stanford, Oregon State, WSU and Colorado behind them. It is not clear, as I tried to explain earlier in this column, who will climb to the top of that list and grab that last spot. I think that the conference can get in six, but I doubt that they can get in seven.

The way things are going, USC is rebuilding at a steady rate. The addition of transfers seems to be the key. Next season Cal-Irvine star Eric Wise will join Iowa transfer Aaron Fuller and Wake Forest transfer Ari Stewart. This season, Fuller
will team with former Fordham transfer senior Jio Fontan and JC transfer seven footer DeWayne Dedmon to lead ‘SC.

Wise was interviewed by ESPN on July 25th and like most of the Trojans seems to be buying in to coach Kevin O’Neill as a guy that is professional and can do the job.

“Yeah, exactly. He knows how to get there (the NBA) and he knows what it takes. You have to listen to him. He’s been where everybody wants to be.”

Dedmon is an intriguing player. A YouTube clip from July 18th shows him to be quite an impressive talent. Whether he is ready to run the Pac-12 out of town is hard to tell from this clip, but reports from LA are consistent that he is an NBA prospect.

On Tuesday Mike Decourcy of sportingnews.com featured Dedmon, including quotes from USC assistant Bob Cantu and Dewayne. The general consensus is that the guy is NBA all the way. The only question is how much he is going do in the Pac-12? There are guys that have not had much impact in college, but gone to the NBA. Javale McGee of Nevada for instance.

More than likely Dewayne will help ‘SC immensely, if he is that good. On July 27th Yahoo’s Jason King came out with a full length feature on the Trojans which led with statements by O’Neill that were clear in regards to coddling “one and dones”. If O’Neill is what he says he is, Dedmon is in the right place. Big time kids need work in school not “coddling”.

“I’m so sick of hearing bad players tell me they’re NBA prospects. Their parents tell me the same thing, too. I could puke. They think they’re one-and-done guys and they’re not even going to be four-and-done. I don’t recruit those kinds of kids.”

In the piece O’Neill talked about Fontan and Fuller in positive terms but saved the biggest praise for Dedmon.

“He has as good of a motor as anyone that I’ve coached at any level, which is saying a lot. He shoots the ball way better than people think. He’s got to develop a back to the basket game, but after he does that he’s going to be a heck of a player. He just plays really, really hard all of the time.”

Having spent a decade in the NBA, that says something when O’Neill talks like that. Dedmon could be a major story in the Pac-12 as a sophomore this season. Dedmon and the rest, including seven foot JC transfer James Blasczyk will leave for an
exhibition trip to Brazil from August 12-21, according to the LA Times on July 28th.

In a Wednesday feature in ESPN on teams traveling overseas, Katz gave his take on the Trojans trip to Brazil.

“This will be the essential debut for the much-hyped big man for USC, Antelope Valley JC transfer DeWayne Dedmon. USC coach Kevin O’Neill is pumping up Dedmon as one of the top centers in college basketball and a likely one-and-done
player. Jio Fontan could use this trip to fine tune his guard skills, too, in advance of what needs to be a breakout season.”

It is awfully early to look at this trip as being that meaningful, but if Dedmon and Fontan can get it rolling, with the supporting cast in La la land, This could be a “Breakout season” for not only Dedmon and Fontan, but Fuller, Jones and most of all O’Neill, who was literally victimized by the Arizona hype machine as a bad coach and bad guy.

In my opinion he’s just a pro, but he’s doing his job, which is something no one should argue with. If in fact he’s running it clean down there, for whatever reason, I see no reason to criticize him or USC for bringing him in after firing Tim Floyd and taking that direction with the hoops program. Smart and the right thing to do. A good combination.

On July 28th Bleacher Report chose Fontan as one of the, “Top 25 Players You Might Not Know, but Should”. With Dedmon getting a lot of attention, Fuller cleaning up the garbage and sophomore guard Maurice Jones another solid threat at his side, Fontan could lead the Trojans back to a much better season, despite the loss of Nikola Vucevic to the NBA.

USC doesn’t have a big name wing, but sophomore Garrett Jackson and freshman Byron Wesley are two names to watch there. If one of those guys kicks in, this ‘SC team could vault easily into that top group and make a much better run in the
NCAA’s. Keep in mind that the Trojans lost to eventual Final Four team VCU in the first round this past March.

Part of the reason that ‘SC is doing so well, despite the serious probation that was put on the athletic program is O’Neill. On Tuesday CBS Sports ran a feature on O’Neill that should give fans a better idea as to why he is such a good coach. I also believe, based on accounts from good sources that Kevin is running it clean down there as well.

Colorado head coach Tad Boyle told Scout on July 31st that unlike a lot of the analysts who think the Buffs are in rebuilding mode, his team can sustain their remarkable success.

“I’m extremely excited about Colorado basketball. I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. We want to get this thing rebuilt quickly and have it sustain itself.”

I think he can, but the Pac-12 is going to be tough this season. A few good wins and another solid recruiting class like his 2011 class and they should be right there.

Rivals picked sophomore wing Andre Roberson on Thursday as one of the “Breakout backcourt players in 2011-12”.

“Not many guards across the country can rebound as effectively as this 6-7 sophomore. As a freshman, Roberson led the Buffaloes in rebounds (297), steals (51) and blocks (42). He averaged 7.8 rebounds, 6.7 rebounds and 22.3 minute, and set Colorado freshman records in total rebounds and total blocks. His 297 total rebounds also were the most ever by a Colorado guard. He ranked second in the Big 12 in rebounding average. He reached all these totals without starting a game. Roberson could emerge as Colorado’s best player now that the Buffaloes must replace lottery pick Alec Burks and also Cory Higgins.”

Roberson will be a top guy, but Utah Transfer Carlon Brown and JC transfer Jeremy Adams could give the Buffs a very tough rotation at the 2-3 spots. The challenge will be finding big men and a point guard. Freshman Spencer Dinwiddie is a great
prospect and could make some noise this year, but you have to guess that his best years are ahead.

2012 PF commit Josh Scott has really been raising eyebrows in summer camps, so the future appears bright up front. If Dinwiddie, Brown, Adams, Roberson and undersized but lethal frosh post Damian Cain are CU’s starting line-up this season,
they won’t win a ton of games, but will be battle hardened in 2012 and could jump right into the top end of the league.

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Pac-12 Roundup for August 7th 2011 (Part Two)