Pac-12 Roundup and Washington Husky Huddle for May 17th 2011

May 17, 2011, 1:57 PM | Updated: 2:19 pm

The Pac-12 conference is going to continue to get a very poor spin from the national media, though with the addition of ESPN, that trend will probably start to reverse itself once the season is around the corner. Rivals did their conference rankings on Thursday and put the Pac-12 6th out of the six “BCS” conferences. True to form, Rivals was off-base in their assessment of the Pac-12, not even mentioning Cal while talking about Utah and Colorado backwardly.

“Newcomers Colorado and Utah won’t add much next season, though Utah has the potential to become a perennial NCAA team, as the Utes were when Rick Majerus was coach.”

Colorado is a team that is poised to be a perennial NCAA team with Tad Boyle as coach, while Utah has just about hit bottom and anything like the Majerus years will have to be built from the ground up. Boyle was the subject of a blog post by ESPN’s Diamond Leung on Monday that talked about how Colorado may have to step up with the bucks to keep Boyle. The Pac-12 is going to be a good league this season. Yes, there were defections to the NBA, but that has happened before and the league was still good. Just in this year’s NBA division finals, there are no less than nine former Pac-10 players in USC’s Taj Gibson and Brian Scalabrine, Arizona’s Mike Bibby and Jason Terry, ASU’s James Harden and Eddie House, Cal’s Jason Kidd, Washington’s Nate Robinson and UCLA’S Russell Westbrook.

This year the league loses seven of it’s top 10 scorers, but there are players coming on, both by recruiting and up the ranks that will make everyone forget about this past year and these early entrants. In fact, I would think that this next year could have more NBA draft picks than 2011 will. I see ‘Zona’s Derrick Williams, UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt, USC’s Nikola Vucevic, Colorado’s Alec Burks and WSU’s Klay Thompson getting picked for sure. I see at least one of UCLA’s Malcolm Lee, Washington’s Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Stanford’s Jeremy Green getting drafted. From that pool I believe that we will be seeing 6-7 players with full year NBA contracts sometime in the near future. I’ve spoken about the possibility that Thomas and Green may not be drafted and could be back, but for Isaiah that door is now closed, as he has reportedly hired an agent according to Ryan Feldman of Hoops Report in a Monday tweet.

“Washington’s Isaiah Thomas has signed with Byron Irvin of Lagardere Unlimited”

Irvin is a former Missouri and NBA player. According to draftexpress.com Thomas is a very marginal draft prospect at 16th best guard available, but Isaiah may be able to sway scouts and GM’s with his play in workouts. The mock draft sites don’t make picks for teams and are consistently off the mark. I think that Thomas has a chance to get drafted, but there is also a chance that he won’t. Next year there could be Josiah Turner and Kyle Fogg of ‘Zona, UCLA’s Josh Smith and Reeves Nelson, USC’s Jio Fontan, Cal’s Allen Crabbe and Jorge Gutierrez, Stanford’s Dwight Powell, Oregon’s Jabari Brown, Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham, UW’s Abdul Gaddy, Tony Wroten, Darnell Gant and Terrence Ross and WSU’s Marcus Capers and Faisal Aden.

Turner is headed to the NBA draft more than likely, whether or not he gets into school with his academic problems. If he does have problems qualifying, that could be very damaging to ‘Zona’s chances to stay in contention for the Pac-12 title and another tournament shot, as the news came out on Monday that rising junior Lamont “Momo” Jones will transfer. Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports said on Monday that, “There was significant cause for concern that Jones would hinder team chemistry if relegated to a reserve role – which was likely the case”.

If Turner doesn’t get in now, the PG job goes to sophomore Jordin Mayes, with support from incoming freshman Nick Johnson and others who would be playing out of position. If that were to happen, I would expect the huge recruiting machine that is Miller’s circle, which includes a great deal of help from Nike in my opinion, to run out and find some help. Jones told ESPN on Monday that his reason for transferring was family related.

“After much thought, I have decided to pursue my goals at a school closer to home. My desire to be closer to my family, and in particular my grandmother, is the reason I am transferring.”

The general opinion of those that have looked into the situation is that Jones is hoping to get a family hardship waiver, which would allow him to play this year and not have to sit out the mandatory year for transferring from one D1 school to another. Jeff Eisenberg commented that the way Jones spoke at the press conference seemed aimed at that end.

“The wording of Arizona’s release makes it clear Jones will likely apply for a hardship waiver to allow him to play right away next season at whichever New York-area school that lands him.”

Another potential Pac-12 2012 draft pick is possible one year Louisiana Tech transfer Ola Ashaolu, who Husky Digest sources feel is likely to go to Oregon, with Texas in the 2nd spot. That’s 17 guys that I feel have the potential to be in the 2012 NBA draft from the Pac-12. If I’m right, that would be even worse than this year as far as attrition and I doubt that all of those guys (especially the Husky players) will all bolt, but that is more or less what I expect the conversation to look like at the end of next season. The Pac-12, for all of it’s detractors is the home to some of the top jobs in the game, according to rushthecourt.com on Thursday. UCLA was chosen as one of the top-5 “pinnacle” jobs and I agree with sentiment of their comment on the matter.

“Sigh… this job is still elite regardless of a juxtaposed fan base that on one hand is apathetic while on the other expecting Final Four and national championship banners every year.”

‘Zona was ranked 11th, while Washington was surprisingly and probably deservedly based on their progress under Lorenzo Romar, picked 23rd. Kevin Cacabelos of seatownsports.netcommented on the piece and explained why this choice of the UW was legit that I wouldn’t add anything to. Next year will see another hotly contested and hard to peg conference race in the Pac-12, but Pat Forde of ESPN continued to spread the ridiculous notion that ‘Zona will dominate it In a column titled “Ten Things I can’t wait to see in 2011-12”. I like Forde, but he is just not going to get a pass from me on this one. He not only anoints the ‘Cats as kings of the Pac-12, but of the entire west including the tough MWC.

“Miller is the total package and will have Arizona at the top of the Pac-12 for as long as he stays. And really, somebody from out West needs to represent. BYU and San Diego State had their turns this past season, but don’t count on seeing a repeat of those special seasons. With all the early defections to the NBA, the newly expanded Pac-12 looks like it will be embarrassingly weak again.”

It seems as if it’s almost unanimous at ESPN, as Andy Katz, Eamonn Brennan and Diamond Leung all echo similar sentiments about the Pac-12 in their roundtable on Friday. Katz even went as far as to say that the big TV deal with ESPN and Fox is kind of a waste on such a shaky league.

“The timing is once again off. The Pac-12 secured its future with a monster television deal for football and basketball, especially by diversifying its television partnerships with Fox and ESPN/ABC. But the early-entry departures crushed the league just when it had some momentum.”

While the big taste makers of college hoops feast themselves on the carcass of the Pac-12 credibility, Jon Wilner of the Mercury News (who I think shows much greater insight) picked his post-draft (withdrawal deadline) preseason Pac-12 predictions (as spoken by Porky Pig).

“Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe and Harper Kamp — are returning. (They combined for nearly 50 ppg in league play; no other trio comes close.) There will be far less transition in Berkeley … less redefining of roles … than in Tucson, Seattle or Westwood. And it’s not like Mike Montgomery’s teams ever underachieve.”

Wilner picked UCLA, ‘Zona, UW and Oregon to follow in that order and I can’t say that I disagree much with his thinking. I think that Cal is probably not the best team in the league this season, but deserve to be mentioned among the elite, while the Ducks should be right there in the discussion when it comes to that 5th or 6th spot in the Pac-12’s top half. I did not mention WSU’s DeAngelo Casto, while talking about early entrants and draft prospects from the Pac-12 earlier, as I don’t see him getting possibly chosen in the NBA draft, but Casto is certainly a player with pro potential. I would expect him to play overseas for decent dough.

The Hoops Report did a nice story, tracking Casto’s journey through the loss of his family, a foster home and his hoops successes at Ferris High in Spokane and WSU. It is very well written and must reading for anyone who hasn’t heard his incredible story.

Speaking of the Bears, Cal’s Crabbe and fellow Bear and Price High School (Los Angeles CA) team mate Richard Solomon will participate in the Team USA U-19 team tryouts in Colorado Springs CO. The list (released on Thursday), also included Stanford rising sophomore guard Anthony Brown and Turner.Katz seemed to contradict himself while talking about Crabbe, as he discussed the field for the U-19 team on Friday.

“The trials and subsequent tournament will be a real breakout opportunity for Cal’s Allen Crabbe. He was named the Pac-10 freshman of the year this past season and has a shot to be the Pac-12 player of the year in 2011-12. He’s the primary reason the Golden Bears should be on the cusp of being a top-25 team and a Pac-12 title contender.”

If ‘Zona is so much better than everybody, how could Cal be a title contender? Cal though, is starting to gain the well informed national experts/lemmings that keep on issuing updated preseason top-25’s from April-October on what seems like a monthly basis.Yahoo/Rivals put one out on Tuesday again and this time Cal was ranked 22nd, with falling, but still overrated ‘Zona 10th. In their last rankings Rivals had ‘Zona 4th, with WSU, pre-draft declarations at 25th and no others from the Pac-12.

Stanford’s Brown will also make a name for himself next season in the Pac-12 in my opinion, as the Cardinal should feature him prominently with the apparent loss of Green and an improving supporting cast. Utah is likely going to be very bad this coming year, but with steady growth through some nice transfers, they could be pretty good in a couple of years. Seattle guard and LSU transfer Aaron Dotson will be available in 2012-2013 and Thursday ESPN reported that former Eastern (EWU) star and Roosevelt High (Seattle) guard Glen Dean would transfer there too.

Dean will transfer to Utah, after being one of the top players in the Big Sky conference for two years running and a very tough play making guard that should be able to compete in the Pac-12.

Husky Huddle

Departing senior guard Justin Holiday is actually the highest ranked UW prospect, at 12th best available wing, for the 2011 draft in draftexpress.com’s position rankings that were updated on Tuesday. A Tuesday tweet from Jonathan Givony of draftexpress.com confirmed that Holiday will participate in the Minnesota Group Workout along with fellow Wings Marshon Brooks, Jereme Richmond, Travis Leslie, Tyler Honeycutt and Chandler Parsons.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning was ranked as the 15th best available forward by draftexpress on Tuesday.The saga of 2011 UW guard signee Tony Wroten’s bogus Spanish class continued to be played out in the media. On Saturday David B. Richardson of Seattle, who represented himself as Garfield Sports Boosters president wrote a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times, who originally broke the story. Richardson claimed that there was a clerical error which the Times used to frame an argument that there may be potential fraud involved.

“The Times and readers should pause and resist rushing to judgment based upon one investigator’s conclusions, even if those judgments fit neatly into prejudices regarding the treatment of athletes in high-school sports programs. After pasting this issue on Page 1, the Times needs to live up to its own journalistic standards and follow this story — and perhaps conduct its own investigation — so that this fine student’s and school’s reputations are not wrongfully damaged.”

The Times Danny Westneat added fuel to the fire with an editorial on Saturday, pointing out that top level subjects are being cut, while Wroten and a couple of other kids are being given extra help. He rubbed it in by pointing out that Garfield had more National Merit scholarships than any school in the state and how unjust that was.

“Speaking of stars, did you see the other news about Garfield? It barely made a blip. It was just announced Garfield had more National Merit scholarship winners than any other public high school in the state. Still number one, bros. For now, anyway.”

Is one class designed to help a special group of kids really worth all of this guilt tripping? I guess it is when the Times investigative journalism and higher than thou analysis are called into question. I did not notice a retraction by Mason Kelley as far as his jump to a conclusion that the mistake was a clerical error and not intentional. Either way, this thing will drag on and conspiracy theorists with agendas of their own will continue to milk it. In her chat on ESPN Dan O’Neill on Monday talked about the NCAA going over this case with a “fine toothed comb”. I really appreciated O’Neill’s forward thinking story about former Villnova big man Will Sheridan coming out of the closet.

I wish that she would take anywhere near the same caring approach to look into the Tony Wroten Spanish class story before promoting negative and poorly fact checked sound bytes. I like what Westneat is saying in essence about this tragic reality of high school curriculum’s being cut. Tony Wroten or the Garfield AD that made the mistake that got him fired are not the problem though. Lack of funding for public schools is. Garfield has a great legacy. Players like Brandon Roy and Will Conroy in recent years and the late Keith Harrell in the 70’s and the great Doug Smart in the 50’s. Wroten has the potential to be a great one in the tradition of players like these, but according to Bleacher Report on Tuesday, he is not likely to stay at UW only one year and will also make an impact.

“Wroten can get to the basket nearly at will with his strength and penetrating ability, and once he is there he is a solid finisher. The 6’4″ Seattle native can also distribute the basketball, and he has an excellent feel for the game that allows him to keep all of his teammates involved.”

Garfield’s sports legacy is important, as is it’s music legacy of Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones. Tony Wroten has a chance to be mentioned someday in that group, so why is creating a class to deal with his special needs and a couple of other D1 prospects such a big deal? Seattle has produced a lot of great hoopers, but none had more success in college than now defunct Queen Anne High’s Bob Houbregs, who was mentioned in Bleacher Report last Tuesday. In a piece titled, “The Most Important Recruit Ever for the Top 25 Programs” Houbregs was credited with “laying the foundation” for the UW program of today.

“The success of the Washington Huskies basketball program under Lorenzo Romar would not be the same without the foundation laid in the 1950s by Tippy Dye-coached teams that featured Bob Houbregs. The Canadian forward-center was a key player on Washington’s Elite Eight team in 1951 and was the NCAA Player of the Year as a senior, when he guided the Huskies to the Final Four in 1953 while averaging a gaudy 34.8 points per game in the tournament.”

Players like Houbregs were once in a lifetime from all accounts, but even NBA quality players were much more rare in the Seattle area up until much more recently. Hoopsmack.com on Wednesday ran a feature on the “All-206 Team”, naming all of the current local players in the NBA, with the exception of Tacoma’s Avery Bradley for some reason. The list is impressive. Jon Brockman, Scalabrine, Luke Ridnour, Marvin Williams, Rodney Stuckey, Roy, Martell Webster, Spencer Hawes, Aaron Brooks, Jason Terry, Terrence Williams, Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford were all mentioned and my favorite outdoor court and the place I grew up playing hoops at Greenlake was pictured as well.

Terry appeared on Friday on a local radio show and numerous accounts confirmed that he told the host that, “If he was being recruited today he would pick Lorenzo Romar and UW over Sean Miller and UA”. Talk like that should help UW in recruiting against the “dominant” program in the west, but miller and ‘Zona appear to be staying in that top spot by some margin. With winning the battle for 2011 post signee Angelo Chol head to head over UW a message seemed to be sent.

Miller is doing very well recruiting and hit UW hard by nabbing Chol, as did Steve Lavin of St. John’s by signing 2011 post Norvel Pelle and JC transfer God’s Gift Achiuwa. Husky Digest has reported more in-depth on this story and some of the not-so-clean dynamics that are part of the hoops recruiting landscape of today, but the bottom line is UW Needs bigs.

Husky Haul’s Mark Knight is doing a great job of reporting on UW hoops recruiting as well. On Thursday Knight talked about this past weekend’s potential visitors in NY post Daouda Soumaoro and Richard Peters. Peters was not able to make the trip, but keep in mind that unlike Soumaoro his trip would have to be on his own dime. Peters is still leaning to UW, but he’ll likely visit when he becomes eligible for an official visit or when he and his family are able to make the trip. Peters told me that he is much more seriously considering starting his college career this fall, than he was a couple weeks ago, if he is able to gain admission through grades as the school year winds down.

On Monday heardthisblog.com reported that recently released six-foot-nine and 225 lb. 2011 Maryland post signee Martin Breunig would be visiting Washington on Monday night. Breunig would be a great fit for the Dawgs and has mentioned that the fact that Detlef Schrempf was a Husky is a big factor for him. On Saturday 2011 post Daouda Soumaoro from Long Island NY visited UW, per numerous reports. Soumaoro left on Monday for Texas Tech, which will be his last visit before deciding between UW, TT and St. John’s.

According to Husky Haul Joey Van Zegeren, a Dutchman who is prepping in the Canary Islands, is deciding between UW, Providence, an “unnamed SEC school (this is rumored to be the favorite)” and a few other ” sleepers that have yet to be named”. According to Husky Haul sources Van Zegeren is planning on announcing in the “next few days”.

Another player from the Canary Basketball Academy (CBA) that is considering UW is Marek Soucek. According to Husky Haul, Soucek will decide between UW, Gonzaga, Utah State, Providence “and a few others”. Soucek is a face up post with skills, but not much of a banger or inside scorer, which is what UW seriously needs to improve their chances in post season play.

According to Husky Digest going back a month or so, Shawn Kemp Jr. will likely walk-on at UW. This report was confirmed by others on Monday. Kemp is six-foot-ten and 260 lbs., but is reportedly out of shape and will have to compete with fellow walk-on senior Brendan Sherrer for deep back-up minutes until he gets back in the swing. Kemp was a high major prospect two years ago that committed to both Alabama and Auburn before failing to qualify. If Kemp gets his tail in gear, he could be a solid addition in the future.

Coach Raphael Chillious is probably the person most responsible for extending the Dawgs recruiting reach to places like Germany (Breunig), Africa (Soumaoro), Trinidad (Peters), Czech Republic (Soucek) and the Netherlands (Van Zegeren). His obviously demanding traveling schedule also brings with it other potential land mines apparently. According to the LA Times on Monday, Chillious is currently under investigation by the NCAA for secondary violations. In a feature on the nuts and bolts of a college recruiters day to day life in Sports Illustrated , Chillious was quoted in discussing recruits, not permissible per NCAA regulations. Mike Matthews of the Pac-12 was quoted by the Times as saying that any penalties would minor.

“On the surface of things, it looks like a very, very secondary violation. I wouldn’t expect that the penalty would be terribly severe based on the facts as I understand them so far.”

It seemed to be more something that was overheard than directed at a journalist. Strangely enough Chillious was also quoted in a NY Times piece on cleaning up cheating by the NCAA. He talked about being involved with a good quality prep school (South Kent) in the mid-90’s when “diploma mills (like possibly Turner’s QE Academy) were flourishing”.

“You walk into a place and have a college basketball shirt on and you think they’re going to receive you with a warm welcome. Instead, they’re looking at you like, What are you about to pull?”

Talk about getting stuck in the eye of the hurricane, being on both sides of an issue in the NY and LA Times. That’s exposure, but not the kind that “Coach Chill” likely hoped for, but it seems like UW and Chillious will come out of this one OK.

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Pac-12 Roundup and Washington Husky Huddle for May 17th 2011