Thursday in San Francisco the Pac 12 Conference will hold it’s annual media day for Men’s Basketball. They will also at that time unveil the annual preseason Media Poll for Men’s Basketball, where guys like me, who follow and cover the league, take their best guess at how the league will play out this coming season. For the 8th straight year I have a preseason ballot, which I turned in on Monday Morning to the Pac 12 League Offices. This year may have been the toughest to attempt to rank the teams 1 to 12. A ton of unknowns from players to coaching situations to the impact of NCAA investigations. So I took my best guess….
1. UCLA-The return of Wilkes and Hands was huge for Steve Alford. Factor in too a top three recruiting class.
2.Oregon-The underachieved a year ago, I don’t think that will be the case this year. Pritchard, White, Wooten provide the foundation and a top four recruiting class coming in.
3. Arizona-This pick is a bit of a gamble based on history and Sean Miller’s ability to coach and assemble some talent. Randolph and Smith are the experience returning in the backcourt. Add in transfers Brian Bowen and Chase Jeter. Freshman PG Brandon Williams joins the team too.
4. Utah-Annually picked way to low by the league media. Larry Krystkowiak has assembled his most talented team from top to bottom. Sedrick Barefield will lead from the backcourt and JC Player of the Year Charles Jones will be a key newcomer.
5.Washington-Mike Hopkins returns just about the entire team from a year ago. A team that exceeded some expectations from the preseason. Jaylen Nowell looks to have a big season.
6. Arizona State-Bobby Hurley’s team was the toast of the league in the non-conference season, then faded. They must replace Trae Holder and Shannon Evans. They do bring in their best recruiting class in school history.
7. USC-Gone for Andy Enfield are leaders Metu, Stewart and McLaughlin. Back are Boatwright, Thornton and Mathews. Who will fill the leadership void?
8.Stanford-This is a hard team to figure. They would be several spots higher if Reid Travis hadn’t bolted for Kentucky. Davis, Okpala and De Silva provide a nice foundation for Jarod Haase.
9.Colorado-Tad Boyle may have the league’s sleeper player of the year in McKinley Wright, but what else is there?
10. Oregon State-Tres Tinkle and Stevie Thompson Jr. return for their 10th seasons in Corvallis. Hard to see this team finishing in the upper half of the league.
11. Cal-Coin Toss between the Bears and Cougs for 11th and 12th, Cal won the toss.
12. Washington State-Ernie Kent has had a tough time in Pullman and it didn’t get any easier with the departure of Malachi Flynn and three other guards. Robert Franks is back, so there’s that.
Utah Adds a Finnish Big Man to the 2019 Class
Former Utah Forward Hanno Mottola announced on Monday that Combo Forward Mikael Jantunen has committed to play basketball for his Alma Mater. Jantunen is 6-8 and 220 pounds from the Helsinki Basketball Academy. He’s rated as a 4 star recruit by 24/7 Sports. He’s been described as a guy who can play the 3 and 4 spots, with a high basketball IQ and very skilled. He will join Utah’s 2019 Class which includes Rylan Jones and Matt Van Komen.