Ranking the Top 10 Basketball Players in the Pac 12
Top 10 Pac 12 Basketball Players
For Pac 12 standards, last year was a down year for the conference as only two teams made the NCAA Tournament. Colorado and California were those two teams but the conference's regular season champion, Washington, didn't even qualify for the big dance.
If not for Colorado advancing past their first game, last season might have gone down as the worst power conference performance in recent memory.
With that said, as the Pac 12 tries to bounce back and repair its national perception, the conference isn't without its talented players. In the 2012 recruiting cycle the conference had two of the top three classes in the country (UCLA No. 1, Arizona No. 3). So as far as recruiting goes the national perception is still pretty high and top recruits still want to attend Pac 12 schools.
As the college basketball season gets going it's always interesting to project who the top 10 players in each conference will be. Some are seasoned veterans, others are returning core players and the rest are ballyhooed freshmen that come in highly regarded and highly recruited.
For the sake of this top 10 list I tried to balance returning stars with incoming freshmen. It's hard to say where a freshmen would fit in the conference seeing as they haven't played a single game yet. However, looking at the freshmen on this list it's hard not to include them due to their national ranking.
So without further ado here are the top 10 Pac 12 players heading into the 2012-2013 season.
10. Kaleb Tarczewski- Arizona
Besides Shabazz Muhammad, Tarczewski is the best incoming recruit to the Pac 12 this season.
Arizona beat out Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina to land the big man and it will be worth it for the Wildcats. He's as skilled of a big man as there is in the conference and he can only get better.
He can run the floor extremely well for his size (7 feet, 240 lbs) and is an explosive finisher at the rim. He'll cause problems at the rim for any offensive player trying to score and he should have an immediate impact on the glass.
Arizona had one of the best recruiting classes in the country and Tarc should be one of the favorites for conference freshmen of the year.
9. Brock Motum- Washington State
Motum returns as the conference’s leading scorer after averaging 18 ppg last season. He’s probably the least known conference leading scorer out of the power conference’s but he’s a force to be reckoned with.
He has a constant motor and can score either with his back to the basket or facing up a defender. He is a dark horse candidate for player of the year but he’s a long shot at best.
Regardless, he’s one of the top players in the conference even though he’s not as flashy, simply put he gets the job done.
8. CJ Wilcox- Washington
Wilcox is one of the only star holdovers from last year’s Pac 12 regular season champs as they lost two of their top underclassmen early to the NBA.
As for Wilcox he is one of the best sharpshooters in the country and will lead the Huskies as they try to bounce back after missing the NCAA Tournament last year.
It’s almost unheard of for a “big six” regular season champion to miss the tournament but the Huskies and Wilcox will try to remove that stain this year.
7. Nick Johnson- Arizona
There’s a lot of talent, especially young talent, on the Arizona roster but Johnson may step up as their best player.
The ball is in his hands a lot and he’s a great play maker. Besides setting up his teammates Johnson has no problem scoring on his own but he needs to be more consistent and not have the up and down games like he had last season.
If he can do that there’s no telling how good the Wildcats can actually be.
6. Allen Crabbe- California
Crabbe returns as one of the top scoring threats in the conference. Last season as a sophomore he finished fifth in the conference averaging 15.3 ppg.
With the departure of Jorge Gutierrez, Crabbe will become the main focus for opposing teams to stop so it might be a tough go for him this season. It would be unwise to doubt him however as he can score against all types of defense.
It might be a down year for Cal but Crabbe is still expected to put up big numbers.
5. Mark Lyons- Arizona
Perhaps the biggest addition to the Wildcats didn't come in the form of a new recruit, rather by way of a transfer.
Lyons, who came to Tucson after playing three seasons for Xavier, will be a nice compliment to Arizona's core group of young players. He will fill the point position for head coach Sean Miller, the same coach that originally recruited him to Xavier coming out of high school.
He averaged 15 points last year and a little over three rebounds a game. Lyons' main aspirations are to make it to the NBA so being a compliment might not suit his style in Tucson but I'm sure Arizona will welcome the offense.
I'm also sure that Lyons won't mind taking a back seat to any of their other talented players from time to time as well.
4. Chasson Randle- Stanford
Last year Randle was one of the top freshmen in the conference but as he enters his sophomore campaign he has the potential to be one of the top players in the whole Pac 12.
As a freshmen he averaged just under 14 points per game and he led the conference with 85 made three-pointers. Perhaps his best trait is his tremendous defense.
His ability to be a lock-down perimeter defender has improved his standing throughout the rest of the league. I’m expecting a breakout season for Randle as he vaults himself into one of the top 5 players in the league.
3. Solomon Hill- Arizona
Hill has played with tremendous poise ever since he came to Arizona three years ago. Now in his senior season he’s surrounded by a group of talented players but Hill still stands out as their top player.
He can score from anywhere on the floor and has been a really consistent player the last three seasons. Last year he averaged 13 points per game to go along with 7.7 rpg. Hill is a lock down defender and he can consistently affect shots at the rim.
Hill’s started the last 78 games he’s played in and along with being one of the top returning players he’s also one of the favorites to carry home some hardware at season’s end.
2. Shabazz Muhammad- UCLA
Muhammad was the top ranked recruit in the Pac 12 this season and he has the potential to contend for the conference player of the year award due to his tremendous athletic ability.
He knows how to take over games and that should translate well to the collegiate level. Muhammad is effective in both the open court and in half-court sets. He can get to the rim at will and uses his size to dominate the glass. There's a reason he was the highest rated recruit in the entire country and the rest of the Pac 12 will soon know why.
Muhammad is most likely a one-and-done player for the Bruins and could be a lottery pick if he dominates like he did in his prep days.
1. Andre Roberson- Colorado
Roberson has been dubbed as the best player nobody has heard of but that’s not the case in the Pac 12.
The double-double machine is considered the early favorite for both the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year and the MVP award. Roberson was the nation’s third leading rebounder last year (11.1 rpg) and had 20 double-doubles. Roberson is freakishly athletic and his offensive skills have improved each year, which includes a consistent long-range jumper.
In his first two seasons in Boulder he was overshadowed by Alec Burks, Cory Higgins and Carlon Brown but Colorado is finally his team this year. If last year's thrilling run was any indication, Roberson has the potential to lead the Buffs even deeper into March this season.
Roberson’s draft stock has continued to rise and by seasons end he’ll be a name that the rest of the country won’t overlook.