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2009-10 College Basketball Preview: Pac 10

Written by Paul Banks of NBC Chicago and the Washington Times, and David Kay of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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1. California (T-3rd in Pac-10, 11-7 in P-10, 22-11 overall, NCAA First Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:

Cal was one of the surprise teams in the Pac-10 last season. Not much was expected from them at the beginning of the season, but Mike Montgomery's team started the year winning 15 of their first 17 games. Everybody is back except starting center Jordan Wilkes who was the least important of their starting five. They have one of the most talented backcourts in the conference and should be the team to beat this season in the Pac-10.

Projected Depth Chart

F/C: Harper Kamp (Jr)/Makhuri Sanders-Frison (Jr)/Max Zhang (So)

PF: Jamal Boykin (Sr)/Omondi Amoke (So)/Bak Bak (Fr)

SF: Theo Robertson (Sr)/Nikola Knezevic (So)

SG: Patrick Christopher (Sr)/D.J. Seeley (So)

PG: Jerome Randle (Sr)/Jorge Gutierrez (So)/Brandon Smith (Fr)

Gone: C-Jordan Wilkes

Player to Watch: Christopher- Point guard Jerome Randle runs the team, but Christopher might be their most important player. In the Golden Bears 11 losses, the shooting guard averaged less than 10 points per game, but in their 22 wins, he was scoring nearly 17 per contest. NBA scouts are intrigued by Christopher and if he plays every game like he did in Cal wins last season, could be the key to a deep NCAA Tournament run as well hear his name called in next summer's draft.

2. Washington (1st, 14-4, 25-8, NCAA Second Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:

The Huskies surprised many by claiming the conference crown a year ago. They lost two valuable players in double-double machine Jon Brockman and shooting guard Justin Dentmon. Still, plenty of talent returns including Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Isaiah Thomas and senior swingman Quincy Pondexter. Washington also took advantage of the fragile situation at Arizona last year when highly recruited guard Abdul Gaddy de-committed from ‘Zona and chose to play for the Huskies, adding to an already deep group of guards. Finding a post player to replace Brockman will be the determining factor for how good this team can be in '09-'10.

Projected Depth Chart

F/C: Matthew Bryan-Armstrong (Jr)/Tyreese Breshers (Fr)

PF: Darnell Gant (So)/Clarence Trent (Fr)

SF: Quincy Pondexter (Sr)/Justin Holliday (Jr)/Scott Suggs (So)

SG: Abdul Gaddy (Fr)/Elston Turner (So)/C.J. Wilcox (Fr)

PG: Isaiah Thomas (So)/Venoy Overton (Jr)

Gone: F/C-Jon Brockman, SG-Justin Dentmon

Player to Watch: Pondexter- Since arriving at Washington as a prized recruit, Pondexter has under-achieved. He spent the summer playing for the U.S. National Team and that competition should help him take his game to the next level this season. For that to happen, he needs to find his stroke from three and continue to be a factor on the glass.

3. UCLA (2nd. 13-5, 25-8, NCAA Second Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:

The Bruins saw their stretch of three straight trips to the Final Four come to an end last season with a disappointing second round ousting in the tourney. It won't get any easier this year as UCLA loses four starters meaning there will be a bit of a makeover this year. As always, the talent is there. It will just be a matter of how quickly the younger players can establish themselves as starters. UCLA has suffered some off-season injuries to critical players though as James Keefe has a shoulder injury while in-coming freshman Tyler Honeycutt has been battling a back injury that could limit him this season.

Projected Depth Chart

F/C: James Keefe (Sr)/J'Mison Morgan (So)/Anthony Stover (Fr)

PF: Nikola Dragovic (Sr)/Drew Gordon (So)/ Mike Moser (Fr)/Brendan Lane (Fr)

SF: Tyler Honeycutt (Fr)/Reeves Nelson (Fr)

SG: Malcolm Lee (So)/Michael Roll (Sr)

PG: Jerime Anderson (So)/Blake Arnett (So)

Gone: PG-Darren Collison, G/F Josh Shipp, G-Jrue Holiday, F/C-Alfred Aboya

Player to Watch: Lee- Despite averaging just 3.2 ppg in less than 11 minutes per game last season, Lee is expected to become UCLA's next star player. The skill set is there as Lee will likely one day be an NBA lottery pick, but how he handles the transition to being “the guy” this season will determine how successful the Bruins can be this season.

4. Oregon State (8th, 7-11, 13-17, CBI Champs)

2009-2010 Outlook:

After going winless in the Pac-10 in '07-'08, the Beavers made great strides under first year head coach Craig Robinson aka Barack Obama's brother-in-law. In year two, Oregon State is ready to establish themselves as a legitimate NCAA Tournament caliber team. They run the Princeton offense and don't have a true star player, but play well as a team and should be dancing in March.

Projected Depth Chart

C: Roeland Schaftenaar (Sr)/Calvin Hampton (Sr)/Angus Brandt (Fr)/Joe Burton (Fr)

F: Seth Tarver (Sr)/Daniel Deane (Jr)/Omari Johnson (Jr)/Rhys Murphy (Fr)

G: Josh Tarver (Sr)/Roberto Nelson (Fr)

G: Lathen Wallace (Jr)/Chris Richard (So)

PG: Calvin Haynes (Jr)/ Jared Cunningham (Fr)

Gone: G-Ricky Claitt, Dwain Williams (transfer)

Player to Watch: Schaftenaar- As first glance, the 6-11 senior is goofy-looking and doesn't look like much of a basketball. But the red-headed Schaftenaar fits the Princeton offense perfectly. He handles the ball well, is a solid shooter, and a great passer for a big man. All those traits are essential in this type of system.

5. Arizona (T-5th, 9-9, 21-14, NCAA Sweet 16)

2009-2010 Outlook:

‘Zona hit the jackpot by convincing Sean Miller to leave Xavier and take the vacant head coaching position. For the first time in three years, the Wildcats will finally have some stability at the top of their program and finally build for the future. As expected, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill left for the NBA, but having Nic Wise return for his senior season was a huge get for Miller as Wise brings the leadership to a fairly young team. Arizona also capitalized off Tim Floyd's decision to leave USC as three former Trojan commits decided to sign with the ‘Cats instead. Depending on how quickly the freshmen adapt to the college game, ‘Zona's streak of 25 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament may not be in jeopardy after all.

Projected Depth Chart

C: Kyryl Natyazhko (Fr)/Alex Jacobson (So)

F: Jamelle Horne (Jr)/Derrick Williams (Fr)

SF: Solomon Hill (Fr)/Kevin Parrom (Fr)/D.J. Shumpert (So)

SG: Josh Fogg (So)/ Lamont Jones (Fr)/Brendon Lavender (So)

PG: Nic Wise (Sr)/Garland Judkins (So)

Gone: F/C-Jordan Hill, G/F-Chase Budinger, SG-Zane Johnson (transfer-Hawaii)

Player to watch: Natyazhko- Four of ‘Zona's freshman are top100 recruits according to Natyazhko's presence needs to be felt immediately though as Jordan Hill's absence leaves a major hole in the middle. Alex Jacobson is a bit of a stiff and better suited coming off the bench meaning the 6-10 Ukrainian needs to make an impact from day one.

6. USC (T-5th, 9-9, 22-13, NCAA Second Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:

No Pac-10 team had a worse off-season. Head coach Tim Floyd resigned under allegations of illegal payments involving one-time Trojan O.J. Mayo. Shocking, right? As a result, most of the talented recruits that had signed with USC asked out of their commitments and signed elsewhere. Add in that Taj Gibson, Demar DeRozan, and Daniel Hackett all declared for the NBA Draft, and there is a lot of questions surrounding the USC program. Still, there is some talent on this squad and new coach Kevin O'Neill could lead them back to the tourney.

Projected Depth Chart

F/C: Alex Stephenson (Jr)/Davis Rozitis (Fr)

PF: Leonard Washington (So)/Kasey Cunningham (Jr)/Evan Smith (Fr)

F: Nikola Vucevic (So)/Marcus Johnson (Sr)/James Boyd (Fr)

SG: Dwight Lewis (Sr)/ Marcus Simmons (Jr)/ James Dunleavy (Fr)

G: Donte Smith (Jr)/Mike Gerity (Sr)

Gone: PF-Taj Gibson, G/F-Demar DeRozan, PG-Daniel Hackett, PF-Keith Wilkinson, C-Mamadou Diarra (transfer-pro overseas)

Player to watch: Stephenson- The North Carolina transfer should help fill the void inside left behind by Gibson. He was a solid role player for the Heels before deciding to transfer closer to home and will bring his defensive presence and low post scoring ability to USC this season.

7. Oregon (10th, 2-16, 8-22)

2009-2010 Outlook:

Last season was a brutal one for the Ducks. They were young, inexperienced, and lost their first 14 conference games. The growing pains from last year should prove to benefit Oregon this year as they return eight of their top nine scorers and add a couple talented freshman who should help right away, including Racine Horlick product Jamil Wilson.

Projected Depth Chart

F/C: Michael Dunigan (So)/Josh Crittle (So)

PF: Joevan Catron (Sr)/Drew Wiley (Jr)/Jeremy Jacob (So)

G/F: LeKendric Longmire (Jr)/Jamil Wilson (Fr)/E.J. Singler (Fr)

G: Tajuan Porter (Sr)/Matthew Humphrey (So)/Teondre Williams (So)

PG: Garrett Sim (So)/Malcolm Armstead (Fr)

Gone: G-Kamyron Brown (transfer), G/F-Churchill Odia

Player to Watch: Dunigan- The Farragut HS alum (same school Kevin Garnett attended in Chicago) was highly recruited coming out of high school and got off to a great start in his freshman season at Oregon. However, as the season moved along, Dunigan's game did not. He found himself battling foul trouble which limited his playing time and productivity. There is NBA talent in Dunigan and if he can improve his low post game and become a force down low, the Ducks could be a sleeper in the Pac-10.

8. Washington State

2009-2010 Outlook:

Tony Bennett's stay in Pullman was a brief one as the Cougars head coach bolted for Virginia and the lure of coaching in ACC. Ken Bone comes from Portland State, who he led to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, to replace Benentt. The cupboard isn't completely bare for Bone, but it sure it young and inexperienced. This team will go through some growing pains this season, but could be a year or two away from being seriously talked about as a Pac 10 contender.

Projected Depth Chart

F/C: DeAngelo Casto (So)/Charlie Enquist (So)/Steven Bjornstad (Fr)

F: Nikola Koprivica (So)/ Brock Motum (Fr)/James Watson (Fr)

G/F: Klay Thompson (So)/Abe Lodwick (So)

SG: Marcus Capers (So)/Mike Harthun (So)/Anthony Brown (Fr)

PG: Xavier Thames (Fr)/Reggie Moore (Fr)

Gone: PG-Taylor Rochestie, C-Aaron Baynes, F-Caleb Forrest, F-Daven Harmeling

Player to watch: Thompson- The 6'6 swingman started all 33 games a year ago for Wazzu. He has a smooth stroke from the outside and should be one of the top scorers in the conference this season. NBA potential is there if he can add some muscle to his fairly thin 200 pound frame.

9. Arizona State (3rd, 11-7, 25-10 NCAA Second Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:

From conference title contenders to cellar dwellers in just one year; that's how badly the Sun Devils will miss James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph. Harden was the team's only playmaker last year while Pendergraph was their lone true low post presence. Both are now playing at the next level and I don't see any of the returning role players from last season being able to step up into either of those spots this season.

Projected Depth Chart

C: Eric Boateng (Sr)/Alex English (Jr)/Ruslan Pateev (Fr)

F: Rihards Kuksiks (Jr)/Taylor Rohde (So)/Victor Rudd (Fr)

G: Jerren Shipp (Jr)/Trent Lockett (Fr)/Demetrius Walker (Fr)

G: Ty Abbot (Jr)/Brandon Thompson (Fr)

PG: Derek Glasser (Sr)/Jamelle McMillen (Jr)

Gone: SG-James Harden, PF-Jeff Pendergraph

Player to Watch: Kuksiks- The Sun Devils' top returning scorer at just 10.3 points per game, Kuksiks will likely be the “go-to” scorer. He lives on the perimeter as 93 of 118 field goals last season came from beyond the three-point line. If he can show some dribble penetration ability, it would be a major plus for ASU.

10. Stanford (9th, 6-12, 20-14, CBI)

2009-2010 Outlook:

Johnny Dawkins is in re-building mode at Stanford. The Cardinal loses their top two scorers and starting point guard from last season in which they went 11-0 in non-conference play, but 6-12 in the Pac-10. Landry Fields is the only returnee who averaged more than seven points per game a year ago.

Projected Depth Chart

F/C: Josh Owens (Jr)/Elliott Bullock (So)/Matei Daian (So)

PF: Andrew Zimmerman (So)/Jack Trotter (So)/Andy Brown (Fr)

G/F: Landry Fields (Sr)

SG: Jeremy Green (So)/Jarrett Mann (So)/Da'Veed Dildy (So)

PG: Drew Shiller (Sr)/Gabriel Harris (Fr)

Gone: F-Lawrence Hill, G-Anthony Goods, PG-Mitch Johnson, PG-Kenny Brown, C-Will Paul (suspended)

Player to Watch: Green- Dude can light it up from deep, shooting almost 46% from three last season earning him a spot on the All-Freshman Team. With a new starting backcourt, Green will likely be asked to pick up the scoring load left behind by Anthony Goods.


First Team

(POY) Isaiah Thomas, Washington

Jerome Randle, California

Nic Wise, Arizona

Klay Thompson, Washington State

Dwight Lewis, USC

Patrick Christopher, California

Malcolm Lee, UCLA

Tajuan Porter, Oregon

Calvin Haynes, Oregon State

Roeland Schaftenaar, Oregon State

Second Team

Landry Fields, Stanford

Nikola Dragovic, UCLA

Richard Kuksiks, Arizona State

Quincy Pondexter, Washington

DeAngelo Casto, Washington State

All-Freshman Team

(FOY) Abdul Gaddy, Washington

Solomon Hill, Arizona

Kyryl Natyazhko, Arizona

Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA

Roberto Nelson, Oregon State

Xavier Thames, Washington State

All-Defensive Team

(DPOY) Venoy Overton, Washington

Seth Tarver, Oregon State

Michael Dunigan, Oregon

DeAngelo Casto, Washington State

Ty Abbott, Arizona State

Coach of the Year

Craig Robinson, Oregon State

Most Improved Player

Malcolm Lee, UCLA

Written by Paul Banks of NBC Chicago and the Washington Times, and David Kay of the The Sports Bank.
Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
All other e-mail, including advertising and link proposals, send to:

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