Pac-12 Roundup for April 27th 2011

Apr 27, 2011, 5:38 PM | Updated: 5:43 pm

Now that the 2010-2011 season is toast and most of the coaching changes are winding down, the focus now is on the time remaining for Pac-12 teams to add to their rosters in the spring signing period. Along with that, almost hand in hand for
some teams is the looming May 8th deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft.

The class of 2011 is a good one (so far) in the Pac-12, though few of the national recruiting experts are really raving about it. Rivals chose three league teams in it’s “2011 Class Rankings”, which were updated this past week. Arizona was picked 9th, Oregon 19th and Washington 21st.

Scout chose the same three in their “2011 Class Rankings” update feature on Wednesday, but gave the conference greater reverence with ‘Zona 4th, Oregon 19th and UW 20th.

The ‘Cats class does not yet technically include former UW post recruit Angelo Chol, as his ability to execute his letter of intent “hit a snag”, according to azcentral.com on April 13th.

“Hoover coach Ollie Goulston said Chol will be delayed signing the letter of intent because he needs the signature of his father, Ajieny, who has returned to the family’s native Sudan and isn’t easily reached by telephone or fax.”

Chol’s high school coach stated in the piece that Chol intends to go to ‘Zona, as soon as he can, but there has been no official statement by the school since which means that the problem has yet to be dealt with. That isn’t the only hang for the vaunted ‘Zona class of 2011, as guard Josiah Turner’s prep school has been called into question by the NCAA.

According to the NY Daily News on Sunday, Quality Education Academy is, “raising NCAA eyebrows” because of “red flags being raised about course work and an atypical student body”.

NCAA spokesman Chuck Wynne responded to questions from the Daily News in an email.

“We’re working with Quality Education Academy on their list of NCAA-approved core courses. In the interim, prospective student-athletes from the school will have their academic records looked at on a case-by-case basis when it comes to initial eligibility.”

I would think that Chol will suit up for the ‘Cats this season, as his case sounds like something that should be signed in time for school, but this situation with Turner could prove to be a deal killer. Turner left school in Sacramento CA mid-season and somehow ended up eligible at Quality within a week. That sounds very questionable at best.

‘Zona also lost highly touted but little used rising sophomore Daniel Bejarano, who chose to transfer. It was also announced on Monday that star sophomore post Derrick Williams had signed with an agent by azstarnet.com.

Rivals talked about Turner as the ‘Cats potential “go-to-guy” with the loss of Williams in a feature last Tuesday on the top incoming freshmen for next season.

“With Derrick Williams heading to the NBA, Turner could become the Wildcats’ star player as a freshman. Lamont Jones, who started at point guard this past season, had an excellent performance in the NCAA tournament, but Turner – who picked

Arizona over Kansas – is on a different level. Turner is a native of Sacramento, Calif., who changed high schools in January of this year; he finished up his senior season at Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C.”

He won’t if that school or he is found to be academically ineligible. Oregon 2011 signee Jabari Brown was also mentioned in the piece.

“Landing Brown was a huge coup for the Ducks, who won the CBI this season, their first under coach Dana Altman. The 6-foot-5 Brown, an Oakland native, might be the top shooter in the Class of 2011. He may not be able to lead Oregon to the NCAA tournament next season, but if the Ducks add another player or two of his caliber, watch out.”

Oregon signed JC post transfer Carlos Emory as I mentioned last week. Azcentral.com quoted Brad Winton of JucoRecruiting.com who said some highly complimentary things about Emory.

“At 6-6 and 225 pounds, people think he’s a little undersized, but I think he can play (small forward.) He can’t shoot from the perimeter a ton, but his strength is his athletic ability. He’s above the rim, very springy. He’ll need to continue to develop his ball-handling in the off-season, but he hits the glass well, can finish, get to the line, take contact and score. He’s another guy who’s ready to make this transition because of his frame.”

Husky Digest has reported that according to sources, 5th year senior post Olu Ashaolu would likely be transferring to Eugene OR from Louisiana Tech, but the Edmonton Sun reported on Friday that the Canadian was looking seriously at entering the NBA draft.

As of now Ashaolu’s name has not been reported as having been entered, with the deadline having past on Sunday night. That is not official though, as the NBA has not released the official list yet, though it should be available by Wednesday April 27th.

If the Ducks land Ashaolu to go with Emory and returning senior Tyrone Nared and last year’s medical casualty Jeremy Jacob, they should be fine up front. Count me as impressed at how quick the turnaround has been under coach Dana Altman. It must be said though that the presence of Nike and Chairman Phil Knight make this less than just Duck luck.

With the addition of those two posts, the progress of sophomore wing E.J. Singler and junior guard Garrett Sim, Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph and Brown, all of a sudden the Ducks look like an NCAA bubble team. The Ducks will be young and must allow time for Joseph to get in the groove, but they look to be much better than most suspect.

They could struggle early before Joseph becomes eligible in December, but they will benefit long term by additional minutes for impressive sophomore to be Jonathan Loyd at PG. The loss of incoming senior PG Malcolm Armstead will hurt in November, but all of those early season minutes for Loyd will help in Pac-12 play.

Rivals 2011 top-150 included 11 Pac-12 bound players. Included in the top half were Turner at 10th overall, Brown 22nd, UW guard Tony Wroten 30th, ASU guard Jahii Carson 35th, UA guard Nick Johnson 40th, UCLA guard Norman Powell 59th, Stanford PG Chasson Randle 68th and UA post Sidiki Johnson 71st.

The bottom half included Chol 76th, UW guard Hikeem Stewart 111th, Duck guard Brett Kingma 125th and ‘SC wing Byron Wesley 137th. Scout released their final 2011 top-100 on Tuesday. Turner was 15th, Brown 17th, Wroten 18th, Nick Johnson 27th, Carson 32nd, Chol 47th, Powell 55th, Randle 60th and Sidiki Johnson 85th.

This list is in fact going to impact the new Pac-12 a great deal and college hoops in general. There are a few players that Rivals neglected to mention that will play an important role. Emory and potentially Ashaolu are worth mentioning. Post Daniel Gomis will add depth and quality to an already impressive young Oregon State front court.

WSU’s 2011 guard signee Devonte Lacy is probably worthy of making Rivals 150 and should help with the likely loss of Klay Thompson to the NBA draft.

Junior post DeAngelo Casto is gone to the pros, but at least his exit was a clean one. On Friday the AP reported that Casto’s ridiculous pot charges were dropped. The weed was discovered by the police illegally.

The Cougs will struggle up front again, unless JC transfer D.J. Shelton or freshman Greg Sequele is a revelation, though the return of juniors to be Abe Lodwick and Brock Motum, plus sizable sophomore sharp-shooting swing man Patrick Simon (had to do it) is now a group of vets.

Another promising Coug post that got away last off-season was then freshman James Watson, who straightened out his academic house and will sign with Kansas State on Wednesday, according to Rivals. Cal’s biggest addition will be another

Minnesota transfer in likely starting PG Justin Cobbs and JC transfer wing De’End Parker will likely help UCLA. Parker was also spoken highly of by Winton.

“He committed to California originally, then changed his mind. He’s 6-5 and about 215 pounds, kind of a combo guard. He sees the floor well because of his size. He can do a little bit of everything. He averaged 12 points, five rebounds and five assists, which doesn’t seem real impressive, but his team was loaded. He has a quick first step and he’s improved his jump shot. I think he come in and be an impact guy.”

Cobbs was so good in practice that rumor had it that it played a large part in the transfer of Gary Franklin. Parker and Powell, plus returning sophomore Tyler Lamb, will be counted on to fill the void left by the loss of Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee to the NBA. According to many observers De’End can do “De’Job”, especially from beyond the arc.

Cal is becoming less of a secret to some and over the off-season I expect more commentators to follow suit in regards to the Bears. According to Yahoo’s Jason King on Tuesday, Cal is one the “Teams on the rise in 2011-2012.

“The Golden Bears – who lost to Colorado in the second round of the NIT – return all but one player (Markhuri Sanders-Frison) from a team that finished 18-15 overall and 10-8 in the Pac-10 conference. Leading the way will be Jorge Gutierrez, who averaged team highs in points (14.6) and assists (4.6). Allen Crabbe earned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors after averaging 13.4 points. Harper Kamp (14.2 points) is solid in the paint.”

Randle will bolster, if not solidify a troubled and young, but emerging guard group at Stanford. Wesley will fill an important position of need at USC on the wing, with the loss of senior Marcus Simmons. Though coach Kevin O’Neill will be pressed to find a go-to defensive stopper like Simmons, Wesley is a better shooter/scorer going in than Simmons in 2011.

USC will be decent this season with senior guard Jio Fontan, sophomore guard Maurice Jones and Wesley, to go with Iowa transfer Aaron Fuller, two seven footer rookies in James Blasczyk and DeWayne Dedmon and sophomore combo forward Garrett Jackson. The feel that I get from the Trojans is that they are going to look much better in 2012-2013.

One reason for that opinion was because on Wednesday Ari Stewart transferred from Wake Forest, according to ESPN. Stewart is a potent scorer and shooter with distance that will be a junior in the fall of 2012. He will allow ‘SC to move Wesley to the two, Jones to the point and at six-foot-seven and 205 lbs. he will be a load along with then junior Jackson on the wing.

I see Fuller starting from day one at the PF spot and I think that Dedmon could make a major impact in the middle. Jason King of Yahoo also saw a future for Fuller when he chose Aaron as one of his “Impact Transfers” on Monday.

“Fuller earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2009-10 after averaging a team-high 12.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in conference play. The 6-6, 235-pounder will provide some much-needed bulk down low following the departures of Alex
Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic.”

Carson will look to lead ASU back to contention and though I believe that he will fall short of that, it won’t be for his lack of ability. The Sun Devils were a donut team (nothing in the middle) last season and though they should be improved somewhat, post play will likely still be their weak suit.

That said, Carson, sophomore to be Keala King and junior to be Trent Lockett has the potential to be a winner. JC transfer Chris Colvin will also likely play a role and expect to see Carson move to the off guard at times to take greater advantage of his ability to score and outrun the competition.

According to a Tuesday tweet from Doug Tammaro, Colvin signed his ASU paperwork.

“It is official that Chris Colvin is a Sun Devil! He joins Jonathan Gilling and Evan Gordon as spring signees for Coach Sendek”

Colvin was the third and final JC transfer (so far) that was singled out by Winton when he spoke to azcentral.com on Wednesday.

“He has a year of Division I experience, so that helps. He started at Iowa State, and he didn’t put up great numbers there, but he did play in 29 games, enough to get some experience. (At 6-3,) he’s got good size. He can see the floor and

strength-wise he’s pretty solid. He’s a point guard, and he can shoot the ball if he has to. I know Arizona State has Jahii Carson coming in (from Mesa High). I’m not sure how that will work out, but I think those two could play together.”

Matt Prehm at Duck Territory did an “Early Look” at next year’s Pac-12 on Thursday and picked the Bruins to win it, followed by UW 2nd, Cal 3rd, ‘Zona 4th, Oregon 5th, Stanford 6th, OSU 7th, WSU 8th, ‘SC 9th, ASU 10th, Colorado 11th and Utah last.

I like Prehm’s take on things, though I feel that the Buffs will do better than 11th. His choice of Wroten in his 5-man 2nd team, Lorenzo Romar as Coach of the Year and Husky sophomore guard Terrence Ross as Player of the Year is flattering to UW fans coming from a Duck, but logical to me.

Prehm’s choice of UCLA posts sophomore to be Josh Smith and junior to be Reeves Nelson is also hard to argue with. Rivals chose Bruin transfers from UNC Travis and David Wear, as both “Impact transfers” in a feature on the top transfers nationally on Monday.

Some feel that UCLA will only be good, not great, because of the loss of Lee and Honeycutt, like Mike Decourcy of Sporting News who picked the Bruins his number one team hurt by the 2011 draft on Monday. Decourcy even gives a glimpse of the seedy culture that exists behind the scenes, whether he intended to or not.

“They are in the draft because there are agents selling the idea that any door into the league is adequate, that entering through the front doesn’t matter.”

From what I have heard on numerous occasions in regards to UCLA coach Ben Howland, he is just as much a ruthless operator as any agent or one of their “runners”.

Prehm named Buff incoming freshman guard Spencer Dinwiddie to his 5-man all frosh team, high lighting my point about the Buffs. Coaching means a lot in the league, as Mike Montgomery has proven and Tad Boyle will get the most from his young team.

Gary Parrish at CBS Sports is sipping the ‘Zona cactus kool-aid though, as chose the ‘Cats 15th in his post draft deadline Top-25 (and one), the 26th team being UCLA. I’m more with Prehm here. I see UCLA, UW, Cal and ‘Zona in the top-25, with Oregon, Stanford, OSU, WSU, USC and Colorado as possible post season teams.

Parrish explained his lack of respect and/or knowledge of Pac-12, depending on how you look at it, in a feature Wednesday for CBS. Still calling it the Pac-10 and explaining that the league is weak because only two teams are ranked and at the
end of the top-25 is a poor argument. For one, the rakings he referred to were done by him basically.

This year 5-6 teams will “dance” in March, with all of those top four plus one or two of the 2nd six. I know that’s not going out on a limb, but it is so early that fine tuning is nearly impossible. Another early rankings by Fox Sports chose ‘Zona and UCLA as tied for 25th and UW under other teams considered.

This would seem to be the general pattern for the national publications as opposed to folks who actually watch the conference like Prehm. All but a few of the national guys will be talking about the factory schools in discussions of the top-25, while regional guys will see the merits of teams like UW, Cal and even Oregon and WSU.

The Buffs star sophomore guard Alec Burks finally declared for the NBA draft according to ESPN on Thursday, planning to hire an agent. It was expected and the signing of JC shooting guard Jeremy Adams seemed to indirectly confirm that he was gone last week.

Yes, the Buffs would have challenged for the Pac-12 championship perhaps had he stayed, but that can be said about a number of teams every year who lose money men like Burks. Rivals talked about how the Buffs are actually reloading next year perhaps more than rebuilding.

“Boyle added three transfers Carlon Brown (Utah), Sabatino Chen (University of Denver) and Jeremy Adams (Navarro College), and three three-star recruits in Askia Booker, Damiene Cain, Spencer Dinwiddie. Brown averaged 12.6 points per game in 2009-10 with Utah, Checn shot 49.6 percent from the field in his two years with Denver and Adams, who originally signed with Texas A&M before going to junior college, averaged 12.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 steals. The Buffs also return Andre Roberson, who came on strong during the second half of the season, and Austin Dufault and Nate Tomlinson, who were starters.”

Two returning starters, a few experienced reserves, three mature transfers and some nice frosh doesn’t sound that drastic for fans in Boulder CO. Burks told denverpost.com on Friday that Brown may not be him, but he could be close to as
effective.

“Carlon is one of the most athletic guys I’ve ever seen. Colorado fans are going to love him.”

While Colorado are down shifting a bit, but still driving a sporty car, Utah is just putting together the framework of it’s jalopy. But the Utes just found a potential part in 2011 PG Kareem Storey, who signed on Friday. They also signed JC PG Cedric Martin last Tuesday. Martin played on a horrible JC team, so his impact may be hard to assess.

Storey seems like a scoring PG that does not involve his team mates well, according to a few reviews. Coach Larry Krystkowiak may see something in these kids, but they sure seem like reaches on the surface.

Krystkowiak himself may be the show this year, as the Utes look like the worst team in the Pac-12 on paper and it’s not even close. Krystkowiak was the subject of a large feature in Yahoo on Tuesday that painted the former Montana coach and
NBA star as undaunted. It seems that he wants to rebuild by starting locally.

“I think Utah does have some pretty good players annually. I come from Montana, where we were fortunate if there was a Division I player in the entire state. There are multiple players here. It’s a big basketball state.”

Good thinking, but he will need to get players in that can help now, with all of the defections. Storey and Martin don’t appear to accomplish that task. It will be interesting to watch what happens as the spring signing period closes out in mid-May.

Really, a number of teams in the Pac-12 could be helped greatly between now and then, but Utah really needs help. Oregon, UW, WSU, UCLA and USC should have movement as well, while ASU, OSU, Cal, Stanford, ‘Zona and Colorado appear to be set. Appearances can be deceiving though and likely are.

‘Zona has been the subject of speculation, as they continue to recruit and entertain the possibility of high profile transfers, yet are over the scholarship limit. Even with Bejarano’s transfer the ‘Cats are still one over, if all four freshmen make it in this fall.

Mike Miller of NBC Sports talked about either 5th year senior center Alex Jacobsen transferring without sitting a year because of graduating (like Ashoalu) or rising junior post Kyryl Natyazhko turning pro in Europe to make room.

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