Cal's Devon Hardin announced today that he will return to Cal in hopes of becoming a lotery pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. This, combined with So. phenom Ryan Anderson and the return of Jordan Wilkes makes Cal a possible top 25 team. This could be the 7th top 25 team from the Pac 10. This will certainly be the nation's best conference next season and it could be the best the Pac 10 has ever been. With their terrible TV deal I'm not sure anyone outside the Pacific time zone will notice, but they will be the dominant conference this season. The conference champion could do it with only 12 wins this season. It should be an awefully entertaining season so let's see what each team has to offer before the summer starts.
UCLA- Looking like a preseason top 5 team and a top 10 team at worst. I don't think anyone here needs an explanation regarding our Bruins.
Washington St.- The Cougars finished the regular season in the top 10 and lost in the 2nd round to Vanderbilt in a heartbreaking 2 OT contest. This season they return every player, but Ivory Clark. With so many returning players, including Derek Low and Kyle Weaver the Palouse should be home to a top 10 team again this season.
Arizona- They did lose Marcus Williams and Mustafa Shakur, but those may actually benefit the Cats as Shakur couldn't hold on to the ball and Williams was always a me-first guy. With the 5th ranked recruiting class, including two 5 star players UofA is definately brining in some top notch talent. Combine that with the talent they already had and Kevin O'Neill coming in to show the Cats how to play defense, Arizona could be a top 15 team.
Oregon- The Ducks did lose star Aaron Brooks, but they return everyone else including Tajuan Porter, Malik Hariston and Marty Leunen. Oregon peaked at the end of the season, winning the Pac 10 tournament and going to the Elite 8 so this team will look to ride that momentum into this season and now have big game experience. They should be a top 20 team and going in to Mac Court and coming away with a win will be as difficult as ever.
Stanford- They have the Lopez twins who USC found out last season can dominate games. With a season under their belt I expect them to be much improved and with Goods running the point and we saw how Hill can shoot the ball last season. They should be a top 20 team next season too as Maple Pavilion gets rocking again for the first time in 5 years.
USC- They lost Young and Pruitt, but the talent is still there. Taj Gibson, no matter how stupid, is still a damn good forward and Daniel Hackett should be much improved. They bring in the uber-talented Mayo and Jefferson, but will they buy in to the team concept and play the defense that carried the Trojans last season? If the answer is no we are looking at an 8th or 9th place Pac 10 finish, but if the answer is yes the Pac 10 has another top 25 team.
Washington- With Hawes declaring that he will stay in the draft the Huskies will get back to an run and gun style next season. Brockman is athletic enough to get up and down the floor and with the ball in Dentmon and Oliver's hands they should be alright. Throw in the sharpshooter Appleby (no matter how much of an a-hole he is) and the ultra-athletic Pondexter the Huskies will hover around #25 all season long.
Cal- Hardin and Anderson up front with the 7 footer Wilkes coming off the becnh makes for an awefully imposing front line. The question is where do they get some guard play from. Ubaka is gone and they didn;t have much outside of him last season so whether or not they have a point guard in a question, but if one emerges this should be a bubble team come March.
Arizona St.- You are looking at the best 9th place team in the nation next season. I feel kind of bad for coach Herb Sendek who has done an admirable job in Tempe, but how can you ebgin to compete in such a loaded conference? Pendergraph remains a great player who could start for any team in the conference and they are adding super-frosh Harden so the Sun Devils are on their way up. This will not be an easy win for any team this season.
Oregon St.- The only bad team in the conference, they will (somehow) be worse than last season. Ouch. I feel for all the Beaver fans up in Corvallis.