Pac-12 Roundup for June 26th 2011 (Part Two)
Cal’s Crabbe suffered a broken nose and a concussion in the Team USA U-19 team trials, but the injuries will reportedly not effect his starting the season healthy, according to mercurynews.com on Tuesday. Crabbe suffered a concussion against UW in Seattle this past season. Stanford’s Brown should take over the lead scoring guard spot well from Green this season, as I mentioned. Brown, along with Carson were featured in a full length feature for Pac-10.org on Thursday. I like the Cardinal’s rotation this season with frosh Chasson Randle at the point, backed by sophomore Aaron Bright. Brown, senior Jarrett Mann and emerging sophomore Josh Huestis will be the wings, with brilliant sophomore post Dwight Powell, seniors Andrew Zimmerman and Jack Trotter and especially Josh Owens providing a full compliment in the paint. The talent is there on paper and nothing that coach Johnny Dawkins has done would make me wonder if he can win with talent.
Former Oregon center Michael Dunigan was in the news twice since my last column and neither were press clippings that he would likely show his kids down the road. On last Wednesday registerguard.com reported that Dunigan declined to meet with the NCAA in regards to reports that he was provided improper benefits from an agent. That was followed by Dunigan being passed over in the NBA draft on Thursday. The big guy showed some good skills as a Duck on the defensive end and as a rebounder and already has a year of European ball under his belt. He should have success as a pro, whether he ever makes the NBA or not. Dunigan’s story is only part of the problems for the Duck basketball program. Reports have emerged which connected other former Ducks to agents and the NCAA is still assembling information before making a ruling and that isn’t even close to the biog problem in Eugene.
Sportsillustrated.com reported on Tuesday that the football program paid a recruiting service $25K for what appears to be nothing, other than the fact that the service was closely connected to Oregon Heisman candidate Lamichael James and Duck tailback Lache Seastrunk, among others. Paying for players is even worse in D1 basketball in my opinion. One player that left Oregon as a transfer is guard Malcolm Armstead, who landed in Wichita State, where he will sit one year then play his senior season in 2012-2013. Armstead said when he left Oregon that he wanted to be closer to family for his last year. Armstead appears to be from Florence AL, which is not near Wichita last time I looked. I thought that Armstead was very good, but inconsistent, for the Ducks. The Shockers are a program on the rise and he could really help them in a year and a half. Malcolm seems a bit short for the NBA, but he is very strong and could have a shot at the next level with a solid effort.
OSU’s Cunningham was recognized for his incredible dunking by Yahoo last Friday. Jared was the only Pac-12 mentioned.
“Once he stopped screaming, a television announcer wasnâ€™t exaggerating all that much when he said the 6-foot-4 Cunningham ‘kissed the sky’ during a tip-dunk off a teammateâ€™s miss last season. That slam alone earned Cunningham a spot on this list.”
Cunningham leads a Beaver line-up that is approaching the type of talent that it takes to be dangerous in the conference, not just on a given night in Corvallis, but across the board, depending on their collective ability to stay focused. Focus is a huge need to run coach Craig Robinson’s offense, but defensively Cunningham leads a scary group of athletes. 2011 frosh post Daniel Gomis and sophomore post Devon Collier form a very scary defensive trio with Cunningham. If the Beavs can put together offensive consistency, their take no prisoners 1-3-1 extended zone could make waves, not only in the Pac-12 but attract attention nationally.
UCLA’s Josh Smith was the only player mentioned last Wednesday by Bleacher Report, as they listed the top-5 players for 2011-2012 at each position. Smith was named 4th best center. Smith isn’t even the best post on his own team though, as Nelson clearly is a notch more effective. Smith is a great fit though with Nelson and “big” trouble if he gets in close. The Bruins are really starting to see results from the hiring of AAU “CEO” Korey McCray. McCray’s former club in Atlanta was the breeding ground of their latest recruiting victory in 2012 wing Jordan Adams who committed on Monday according to therecruitscoop.com. Adams may be the first of many of McKay’s former players that could come to Westwood. McCray is also a pro level trainer and trained Adams who talked about their relationship with Scout on Monday.
“He impacted me a lot because he was my trainer. He helped me with everything. Nobody would be recruiting me if it weren’t for him.”
Adams talked about his decision in person in a youtube clip on Monday. For a well informed look at the major questions revolving around the UCLA program, check out nbcsports.com who did a nice Q+A with Bruin Nation blogger Tyler (no last name given) on Friday.
Before he was drafted 16th on Thursday by Philadelphia, USC post Nikola Vucevic did a nice Q+A with Scout where he talked about his day to day experiences training and interviewing for NBA clubs. Usually out of touch with west coast hoops, even Dick Vitale on Tuesday gave notice to Vucevic, who he picked as one of the draft’s “Super six sleepers”.
“You cannot teach size, and at 6-foot-11 he can be a factor at the next level. Remember, he played for former NBA head coach Kevin O’Neill last season. He can also stand out on the glass.”
Vucevic seemed appropriately jazzed after his selection by the 76er’s on Thursday in a clip on Fox Sports and will compete with former Husky Spencer Hawes for playing time in Philly, in what should be an improved front court. Both players are not true centers, but if the Sixers can find a truer big man, the two of them could thrive at the PF position. Also on Tuesday Scout’s Whitney Blaine wrote a story that detailed each USC class going back 10 years and what the former Trojans did or are doing professionally that is a must read for ‘SC fans or Pac-12 fans in general.NBA.com is as reliable a site for what is actually going to happen in the draft as there is and last Saturday, they picked Nikola as one of five “Players who could surprise based on where they’re drafted”. The feeling across the board is that Vucevic will succeed at the NBA level, based on workouts. I felt that based on watching the Pac-10, but who am I?
“Some general managers think there’s not a nickel’s worth of difference between Vucevic and projected top-five pick Enes Kanter. And unlike Kanter, who was declared permanently ineligible by the NCAA and couldn’t play for Kentucky this season, Vucevic had the forum of college basketball to prove he can perform in games.”
The Buffs will look to JC transfer Jeremy Adams and Utah transfer Carlon Brown to replace 12th pick Burks and all-Time scoring co-leader Cory Higgins. The amazing thing here is that there may not be as much of a drop as expected. Adams was featured by dailycamera.com last Wednesday. When you combine those two with Denver transfer Sabatino Chen, freshmen guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker and PG’s Nate Tomlinson and Shannon Sharpe from the 2010-11 rotation, that should make for a great back court in a reasonable length of time, if not immediately. Up front they don’t seem quite as solid, but they have at least one solid force. Sophomore Andre Roberson led the team in rebounding from the wing at six-foot-seven and 195 lbs. If Roberson can play the power forward spot in a kind of two guard, two wing look, the Buffs could go far if they can find a proper post presence. 2011 post signee Damiene Cain is a good candidate to play alongside or behind Roberson at the 4-spot.
Senior post Austin Dufault and sophomore seven-footer Ben Mills appear to be the best candidates, but like ASU this seems to be the biggest question for Colorado. For that reason it appears that the Buffs may be one of the weaker of the mid-level Pac-12 teams, but great coaching from Tad Boyle and more quality than ASU in the paint could get it done. That said, ASU has a proven wing player in junior guard Trent Lockett who is primed for a big year, Carson, JC transfer PG Chris Colvin, sophomore wing Keala King and junior wing Carrick Felix. That’s some decent talent on the perimeter, but other than a promising undersized post prospect in sophomore Kyle Cain, the front court is very questionable. ASU did not get any help there from the 2011 class (yet), it appears, but the Sun Devils will not be the worst team in the new Pac-12. That will probably be Utah’s burden to bear. The Ute’s 2011 class was weak, plus they had a mass exodus of players.
The team that coach Larry Krystowiak has cobbled together for 2011-2012 looks pretty bad, but “Krysto” has a chance to show what he can do in the worst circumstance and build a team from the ground up. Being in the Pac-12 should help him recruit for the future. Landing Seattle area transfer guards Glen Dean from Eastern Washington and Aaron Dotson from LSU is a good start. On Tuesday the Seattle Times Mason Kelley did a nice piece on Dotson, which mentioned his former AAU team mate Dean. AAU coach Jim Marsh talked about Dotson’s strong potential in the article and I agree with Jim that he is a strong player.
“I think, after a year of practice, when he’s eligible, he’ll make some big marks for the Utes. He’s an absolutely terrific athlete, a good scorer and a hard worker.”
If Utah starts gaining some momentum in the class of 2012 and “Krysto” shows that he can get the players that he has to buy into his system, things could turn around relatively quickly. Utah is a good job, with a proven fan base in Salt Lake City, despite the presence of the NBA, BYU and two other D1 teams. Being in the Pac-12 automatically gives Larry an advantage in recruiting against the competition and local TV and box office market share. On Monday deseretnews.com reported that Utah’s AD Chris Hill is making moves to set up a tournament with BYU, the Utes, Utah State and Weber State (the 4 local teams) in EnergySolutions Arena (the Utah Jazz’s building). That is a cool idea and one that I wish could happen in Seattle, Spokane and/or Portland. Imagine four different teams from four different conferences in three different buildings. Seattle U could host at the Key Arena and include Washington, possibly Gonzaga or at least Portland from the WCC and a Big Sky team like either PSU or EWU. Spokane’s could use the Coliseum to feature the Zags, the Cougs, EWU and Idaho for a great two day event.
Portland’s Rose Garden could host Oregon and Oregon State in alternating years, with Portland, Portland State and Seattle U. I think it would be a great idea, but things like this are easier said than done. Hill told Yahoo on Wednesday that, “I’ll have to remember not to let cats out of the bag too soon”, when asked how soon this could happen. Another cool idea, according to many would be to expand the Pac-12 to the Pac-16, as it seemed that Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott wanted to originally. Since the Big-12 teams didn’t want to migrate en masse out west, the thought that Mountain West teams might want to “upgrade” is now the prevailing theory.Medianj.com recently did a fantasy chart that created six super conferences, including a Pac-16 which added five MWC teams in Boise State, Fresno State, UNLV, San Diego State and Nevada and subtracted Utah to pair them in the new Big-12 with BYU. I guess BSU’s travel partner would be the Buffs, with Fresno pairing with SDSU.
For hoops, bringing in UNLV and San Diego State would be a great addition to the conference, while BSU and Fresno State would make more football sense. Nevada would also make sense as a travel partner with UNLV and healthy football and hoops programs. Since overtures to gain big former Southwest Conference schools like Texas have flopped, as Husky Haul considered on Wednesday, this model is probably as good as it could look in the near future. My thought is that a Northern Division could include UW, WSU, BSU, Colorado, Oregon, OSU, Cal and Stanford and though somewhat far flung that would make for great competition. The only real long commute for the Southern Division would be Nevada, but any way you slice it Colorado was going to be a hoof and the Buffs are much better overall than the Wolfpack.