Conference Preview: Pac 12

Conference Preview: Pac 12

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

The Pac-12 found a resurgence of sorts during the 2019-20 season before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, as the conference was on its way to potentially a half-dozen NCAA Tournament bids, doubled from the previous season. The most recent news to rock the college basketball landscape, specifically to the conference, was Pac-12 commissioner Larry Drew announcing the resumption of fall and winter sports Sept. 24, granting the conference eligibility to start playing November 25. 

Despite fantasy studs such as CJ Elleby, Tyrell Terry and Payton Pritchard leaving school to start their pro careers, the conference retains plenty of talent. Senior-to-be Remy Martin and his 19.1 ppg a year ago returns to the conference, though the Pac-12 saw six of its top 10 scores from a season ago depart for the NBA Draft or graduate. It was ultimately won by Oregon during the regular season in 2019-20, but there are expected to be plenty of challengers for the Pac-12 title heading into the upcoming season. For the second-straight year, the league will feature some of the top young talent, with consensus top-10 recruits joining the fold in Evan Mobley and Ziaire Williams. I'll look to touch on everything around the conference from a fantasy perspective heading into the new campaign. 

Top Players

Overall: Remy Martin, G, Arizona State

If it wasn't for stud senior Payton Pritchard of Oregon, Martin could've taken claim to the Player of the Year last season -- he was that good. Failing just

The Pac-12 found a resurgence of sorts during the 2019-20 season before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, as the conference was on its way to potentially a half-dozen NCAA Tournament bids, doubled from the previous season. The most recent news to rock the college basketball landscape, specifically to the conference, was Pac-12 commissioner Larry Drew announcing the resumption of fall and winter sports Sept. 24, granting the conference eligibility to start playing November 25. 

Despite fantasy studs such as CJ Elleby, Tyrell Terry and Payton Pritchard leaving school to start their pro careers, the conference retains plenty of talent. Senior-to-be Remy Martin and his 19.1 ppg a year ago returns to the conference, though the Pac-12 saw six of its top 10 scores from a season ago depart for the NBA Draft or graduate. It was ultimately won by Oregon during the regular season in 2019-20, but there are expected to be plenty of challengers for the Pac-12 title heading into the upcoming season. For the second-straight year, the league will feature some of the top young talent, with consensus top-10 recruits joining the fold in Evan Mobley and Ziaire Williams. I'll look to touch on everything around the conference from a fantasy perspective heading into the new campaign. 

Top Players

Overall: Remy Martin, G, Arizona State

If it wasn't for stud senior Payton Pritchard of Oregon, Martin could've taken claim to the Player of the Year last season -- he was that good. Failing just short of Prichard's pace at 20.1 ppg, Martin torched Pac-12 defenses with his all-around game, averaging 19.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per contest. Martin and teammate Alonzo Verge both assumed at least a 28 percent usage rate last season, and the two will team up again this season to form one of the most dangerous backcourts in college basketball. At diminutive size for the game at 6-feet, Martin makes up for his lack of size with his energy game, as he averaged 1.5 steals and 2.0 three pointers across 33.8 minutes per game. Freshman Josh Christopher enters Tempe as well to take some of the burden off Martin's shoulders, but the senior will likely lead his team to its third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. 

Scoring: Matt Bradley, F, California

One of the most unheralded players in all of college basketball, Bradley quietly averaged 17.5 ppg last season, good for fifth in the conference. Only ASU's Martin returns with a higher scoring average, as Bradley will enter his third season with the Golden Bears. Bradley's 27.4 percent usage rate last season was far and away tops for his team, and with no real challenger to that number arriving in Berkeley this season, expect that number to increase. Bradley can score from all areas of the court, as he shot 43.7 percent from the field, 38.4 percent from three and 87 percent from the charity stripe last season. Although the Golden Bears are likely to be one of the league's bottom feeders again in 2020-21, Bradley is a fantasy dynamo, known for his scoring at all areas on the floor. 

Also considered: Ethan Thompson, G, Oregon State; Alonzo Verge, G, Arizona State; Isaac Bonton, G, Washington State; Jonah Mathews, G, USC; Chris Smith, F, UCLA. 

Rebounding: Timmy Allen, F, Utah

Perhaps one of the most valuable players to his team in the conference, Allen returns to the Utes as the league's top returning rebounder. Before turning down the 2020 NBA Draft this offseason, Allen averaged 17.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game across 31 contests last year. Allen's energy on the defensive end helped him earn double-digit rebounds six times last season, so expect that number to grow heading into his junior season.  

Also considered: Jalen Hill, F, UCLA; Evan Battey, F, Colorado; Andre Kelly, F, California. 

Assists: McKinley Wright, G, Colorado

Back for his fourth and final season, the Minnesota product will return as the top assist man in the conference along with UCLA's Tyger Campbell. Wright has been one of the most consistent contributors in college basketball during his time at Colorado, as he's averaged at least 4.8 assists per game in each of his first three seasons. Despite fellow stud Tyler Bey's departure to the NBA, Wright, the Buffaloes will return five of their six top scorers from a season ago, giving Wright more opportunities to pad the assist column. Wright's 31.7 percent assist rate was 68th in the country last season per KenPom, so expect the senior to be featured with the ball in his hands plenty this season. 

Also considered: Tyger Campbell, G, UCLA; Remy Martin, G, Arizona State; Ethan Anderson, G, USC; Rylan Jones, G, Utah; Daejon Davis, G, Stanford; Quade Green, G, Washington 

Center: Oscar da Silva, F, Stanford

The senior took a huge step forward in his third season in college basketball in 2019-20, averaging 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds across just 28.5 minutes per contest. Despite standing at 6-foot-9, da Silva wasn't afraid to outperform larger competition, as he had 21 points and nine rebounds against USC's Nick Rakocevic, who stands at 6-foot-11. Da Silva led his team in usage last season at 27 percent, and with guard Tyrell Terry entering the draft this offseason, that number should increase this campaign. Perhaps the most prolific part of da Silva's game: his efficiency. The senior was in the top 100 in the country in effective shooting percentage (59 percent) and true shooting percentage (62.5 percent), numbers he'll look to increase as he's primed for a dynamic senior season. 

Also considered: Jordan Brown, Arizona, Andre Kelly, California, Evan Battey, Colorado, N'Faly Dante, Oregon, Jalen Hill, UCLA, Isaiah Mobley, USC, 

Freshman: Evan Mobley, C, USC

Ranked as a consensus top-5 recruit across all major recruiting services, Mobely will join his brother Isaiah in the front court in Los Angeles this season. Standing at 6-foot-11, Mobley has all the characteristics of a big-time prospect. His length and athleticism especially are a few of the major reasons Mobley will be must-watch this season. The freshman's outstanding footwork in the low post, coupled with his ability to face up and make jump shots should make him a matchup nightmare for teams on a nightly basis. I'd expect Mobley to be one of the top performing players from a fantasy perspective this season, producing in all facets before heading to the NBA Draft as a one-and-done. 

Also considered: Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State, Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford, Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State, Dalen Terry, F, Arizona. 

Sleepers

N'Faly Dante, F/C, Oregon

The sophomore saw his freshman campaign limited due to eligibility issues and injuries, as he only averaged 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds across 12 games. Dante comes in at a menacing 6-foot-11, and will likely take on a starting role this season with the departure of Francis Okoro. Dante was used heavily when he saw action, as his 21.9 percent usage rate was good for fourth on the team last season per KenPom. With eligibility and health issues behind him, Dante should emerge as one of the top low-post options for the Ducks and in the conference from a fantasy perspective this season. 

Jalen Graham, F/C, Arizona State

With all the talk of the spectacular guard play that Bobby Hurley has brought to Tempe, the frontcourt has been less heralded. Graham steps into a massive opportunity in the frontcourt this season following Romello White's decision to transfer to Mississippi. The sophomore only averaged 3.2 points and 2.8 rebounds last season, but he'll need to have a big season - particularly in the rebounding department -  if the Sun Devils want to contend for the Pac-12 crown. 

Ethan Thompson, G, Oregon State

Thompson was another player that was outshined by senior front court stud Tres Tinkle last season. But with Tinkle departing due to graduation, the Beavers are now Thompson's team. Last season, the senior saw a 24.3 percent usage rate while playing in 88.5 percent of his team's minutes, both factors I expect to rise this campaign. Thompson withdrew from the NBA draft this offseason after averaging 14.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. In a conference that should feature some of the top guards in the country, I'm looking for Thompson to produce at a top-5 clip fantasy-wise at his position this campaign. 

Also Considered: Jemarl Baker, G, Arizona, Kimani Lawrence, F, Arizona State, Grant Anticevich, F, California, D'Shawn Schwartz, F, Colorado, Chris Duarte, F, Oregon, Daejon Davis, G, Stanford, Chris Smith, F, UCLA, Ethan Anderson, G, USC, 

Transfers

James Akinjo, G, Arizona

Akinjo was one of the many players that benefited from a waiver from the NCAA granting immediate eligibility this offseason. Transferring from Georgetown, he's expected to assume the starting point guard role with lottery pick Nico Mannion out of the picture. Akinjo left the Hoyas having played just seven games last season, but he was able to average 13.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest. Look for Akinjo's usage to increase from his 26.5 percent clip last season, as Sean Miller will lean upon the transfer heavily at the point guard position. 

Terrell Brown, G, Arizona

The Wildcats scored big in the transfer market not only with Akinjo, but in the form of Seattle transfer Terrell Brown. The graduate transfer was absolutely dominant this past season, averaging 20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 36.0 minutes per game. It will be interesting to see how Brown performs against much better competition, and with less looks at the basketball, as his 33.4 percent usage was 15th in the country last season. Look for Akinjo, Brown and Jemarl Baker to form a dangerous trio in the back court for the Wildcats next season. 

Eugene Omoruyi, F, Oregon

A surprise transfer from Rutgers, Omoruyi will head across the country with immediate eligibility for the 2020-21 campaign. The Ontario product is coming off a season in which he led the Scarlet Knights in both scoring (13.2 ppg) and rebounds (7.2 rpg). He'll join L.J. Figueroa from St. Johns as frontcourt transfers entering the Ducks' program, though Figueroa has yet to gain NCAA clearance for the upcoming season. Look for Omoruyi to work in a starting front court role if Figueroa is deemed ineligible, forming a dangerous rebounding duo with the aforementioned N'Faly Dante

Johnny Juzang, G/F, UCLA

One of the most high-profile transfers to earn immediate eligibility, Juzang joins Mick Cronin's program after a stint at Kentucky. Juzang never really emerged in the one-and-done culture at Kentucky last season, averaging 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game over 28 appearances (two starts) with the Wildcats. The highly-talented Juzang should fit right into a dangerous Bruins program that returns its top five scorers from a season ago. I'd expect Juzang to see plenty of opportunities to score as the team's starting shooting guard, especially considering point guard Tyger Campbell returns as one of the conference's top assist men. 

Jordan Brown, F, Arizona

Sean Miller's program won't have to go into rebuilding mode after losing three one-and-done players from a season ago, earning another high-profile transfer commit. Brown entered Nevada as one of the most highly touted recruits to join the Wolfpack, but after coach Eric Musselman elected to take over at Arkansas, Brown looked elsewhere. The former McDonald's All-American averaged just 3.0 points and 2.1 boards in 10.1 minutes per game across 33 appearances as a true freshman in 2018-19, but he'll be immediately eligible after sitting out the entire 2019-20 campaign.  

Top-10 Players*

  1. Remy Martin, G, Arizona State
  2. Oscar da Silva, F/C, Stanford
  3. Evan Mobley, F, USC
  4. Timmy Allen, F, Utah
  5. McKinley Wright, G, Colorado
  6. Matt Bradley, F, California
  7. Chris Smith, F, UCLA
  8. Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford
  9. Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State
  10. Ethan Thompson, G, Oregon State

*Note: These rankings are at the discretion of the article author, and may not necessarily correspond with Rotowire's official 2020-21 player rankings.

Projected Team Standings

  1. Oregon
  2. UCLA
  3. Arizona State
  4. Stanford
  5. Arizona
  6. USC
  7. Washington
  8. Colorado
  9. Utah
  10. Washington State
  11. Oregon State
  12. California

Projected Rotations

For deeper or Pac-12-only leagues, we'll include projected team rotations here. Asterisks denote any player whose status is uncertain for the upcoming season. Think we left anyone out? Let us know in the comments.

First NameLast NameSchoolPosition
JamesAkinjoArizonaG
IraLeeArizonaF
BrandonWilliamsArizonaG
TerrellBrownArizonaG
ChristianKolokoArizonaC
JemarlBakerArizonaG
DalenTerryArizonaF
JalenGrahamArizona StF
TaeshonCherryArizona StF
KimaniLawrenceArizona StF
RemyMartinArizona StG
JoshChristopherArizona StG
MarcusBagleyArizona StF
LutherMuhammadArizona StG
AndreKellyCaliforniaF
MattBradleyCaliforniaG
JuhwanHarris-DysonCaliforniaG
JoelBrownCaliforniaG
RyanBetleyCaliforniaG
GrantAnticevichCaliforniaF
LarsThiemannCaliforniaF
D.J.ThorpeCaliforniaF
JeriahHorneColoradoF
EliParquetColoradoG
MaddoxDanielsColoradoG
EvanBatteyColoradoF
McKinleyWright IVColoradoG
D'ShawnSchwartzColoradoG
DallasWaltonColoradoC
L.J.Figueroa*OregonF
ChrisDuarteOregonG
N'FalyDanteOregonC
WillRichardsonOregonG
EugeneOmoruyiOregonF
AmauriHardyOregonG
ChandlerLawsonOregonF
EthanThompsonOregon StG
AlfredHollinsOregon StF
JaredLucasOregon StG
ZachReichleOregon StG
RomanSilvaOregon StF
RodriqueAndelaOregon StF
GianniHuntOregon StG
OscarDa SilvaStanfordF
JaidenDelaireStanfordF
ZiaireWilliamsStanfordF
BryceWillsStanfordG
DaejonDavisStanfordG
SpencerJonesStanfordF
JohnnyJuzangUCLAF
JalenHillUCLAF
CodyRileyUCLAF
ChrisSmithUCLAF
JulesBernardUCLAG
DavidSingletonUCLAF
TygerCampbellUCLAG
JaimeJaquezUCLAG
EthanAndersonUSCG
EvanMobleyUSCF
IsaacWhiteUSCF
IsaiahMobleyUSCF
TahjEaddyUSCG
NoahBaumannUSCG
TimmyAllenUtahF
BrandenCarlsonUtahF
RileyBattinUtahF
RylanJonesUtahG
AlfonsoPlummerUtahG
JaxonBrenchleyUtahG
MikaelJantunenUtahF
HameirWrightWashingtonF
NazCarterWashingtonG/F
JamalBeyWashingtonF
QuadeGreenWashingtonF
MarcusTsohonisWashingtonG
MarvinCannonWashington St. F
NoahWilliamsWashington St. G
IsaacBontonWashington St. G
TonyMillerWashington St. F
VolodymyrMarkovetskyyWashington St. F
AljazKuncWashington St. F

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Labosky
A former D1 hockey player for the University of Wisconsin, Dan started writing for RotoWire in 2018, covering the NFL, NCAA Football, NHL, NCAA Basketball and Tennis. He is also the host of Beyond the Badgers on WSUM 91.7 FM.
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