Pac-10 Generation Next
by Nicholas Lozito
Each and every college basketball season, the Pac-10 Conference sends at least five teams to the NCAA Tournament and is considered one of the deepest conferences, from top to bottom, in the nation.
But due to the loss of All-Americans Casey Jacobsen, Sam Clancy, Curtis Borchardt and Frederick Jones, the time has now come for a new breed of talent to step up in the conference. Everyone already knows about conference studs like Jason Gardner, Luke Walton, Luke Ridnour and Jason Kapono, but here are some guys that will make their first real dent in the conference this season.
Arizona: Wil Bynum, Rick Anderson and Hassan Adams
Bynum is just a sophomore, and he averaged only 6.4 points last season in under 20 minutes. The 5-foot-11 shooting guard will battle with fellow sophomore guard Salim Stoudamire for minutes. Bynum is a scorer; he can penetrate, shoot, shake, bake, fake, and get a little funky with the rock. The Chicago native handled himself well against one of the nation’s top point guards in high school (Sean Dockery), proving he can handle the big-time atmosphere.
Anderson is a throwback player. He’s the Eugene Edgerson of 2002. The senior forward can shoot, pass and defend with the conference’s best. With some added muscle, Anderson could make the Arizona frontcourt, along with center Channing Frye, one of the best in the nation.
Adams is only a freshman, but if head coach Lute Olson gives him any playing time this season, the Westchester High in Los Angeles graduate should blow up. With a crowded backcourt – Gardner, Bynum, Stoudamire – Olson could redshirt Adams. If not, the guard will most likely backup Gardner. In high school, Adams was generally regarded as one of the top-15 players in the country his senior year, mainly because of his size (6-foot-4) for a point guard, his quickness, and his will to lead a team. Adams led Westchester to the California State Championship his season year.
Washington: Doug Wrenn and backcourt
Doug Wrenn should lead the Pac-10 in scoring this year. The 6-foot-8 senior is a scorer, averaging 19.5 points last season. The Seattle native transferred to Washington from UConn following his sophomore year.
Allen is a 6-foot point guard, who almost seems to float across the court. The junior will team up with freshman shooting guard Brandon Roy to make one of the top backcourts in the conference. If Roy can adjust to the college game early, Washington could battle Pac-10 Tournament spot.
UCLA: Ray Young and Cedric Bozeman
Young is a senior guard coming off his redshirt season. In his junior season (2000-01), Young averaged only seven points while playing behind current Harlem Globetrotter Billy Knight. Young should get the starting job his senior season, and fans should see for the first time on the collegiate level why he was a McDonalds All-American at Saint Joseph’s High School. The 6-foot-4 guard has supreme jumping ability, and if he used his redshirt season to work on his jumper, he should be one of the top shooting guards in the conference.
Bozeman is a 6-foot-6 point guard. He has the ability, with his height, to see the entire court in the half court set. Last season the sophomore made 21 starts, while averaging just 4.0 points, and finishing second on the team in assists. Bozeman should be one of the top defenders in the conference this season, and if his offensive game develops, he could be one of the best players in the country by his senior year.
Stanford: Julius Barnes and Justin Davis
Barnes, a senior, is the most athletic point guard in the conference. He has already made a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball, and this year will be his offensive breakout season. The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 11.9 points in conference play, while dumping 27 on rival California. If Barnes has improved his 3-point shot over the summer, he could move himself into NBA Draft status by year’s end.
Davis is a man among, well, weaker men. The 6-foot-9, 245 pound power forward is a dunking machine, and I fear for anyone who stands between him and the basket. The junior averaged just 4.6 points last season, but if he gets time on the court he will be one of the top forwards in the conference. His power is unmatched in the conference, and the quickness he has for his size is drooled upon by NBA scouts. Once Davis wipes that drool off and starts working on his jump shot, he could make himself a lottery pick by the end of his senior year.
California: Amit Tamir and A.J. Diggs
Tamir, a sophomore, averaged 9.9 points as a freshman, but was limited in minutes due to inconsistent play. The Jerusalem, Israel native scored 39 points in a conference home game against Oregon, but dropped in only 12 points in the team’s last five games of the season. The 6-foot-11 forward can extend out as far as the 3-point line or post up under the hoop. He also has good passing skills and great court awareness.
Diggs played behind point guard Shantay Legans last season. But when Legans unexpectedly transferred to Fresno State over the summer, the former walk-on was given the starting point guard job at Cal. At 5-foot-9, Diggs is a pest on the defensive end. After averaging only 16.5 minutes per game last season, Diggs still managed to lead the team in steals with 47. If Diggs wants to make himself a legitimate starting point guard in the league however, he will have to make himself more of an offensive threat.
USC: Errick Craven
Craven might be the purest scorer in the league. He has the ability to get to the basket and knock down the open jump shot. As a freshman, Craven averaged 12.9 points while playing with his twin brother, Derrick Craven. The identical twins are listed as the exact same height and weight (6-foot-2, 190), went to the same high school, play the same positions and are battling for the same position (shooting guard) at USC. The only difference is that Errick is far better; granted, Derrick suffered with injuries last season. With the loss of Clancy and Brandon Granville, look for Errick Craven to step up and average close to 20 points this season – no joke.
Washington State: Marcus Moore
Moore’s job is to keep the Cougars respectable this season after going 1-17 in the conference last season. The 6-foot-6 junior led the team in scoring average (16.6) and total assists (131) last season while starting all 27 games. Moore should put up big numbers again this season, only because he is the only legitimate scoring threat Washington State has.
Arizona State: Tommy Smith
Smith is a rangy 6-foot-10 forward who averaged 11.7 points last season. With his long arms, Smith is one of the better defenders in the league and should be one of the league leaders in blocked shots. The junior could be an all-conference selection by the end of his senior year.
Oregon: Robert Johnson
Johnson is a powerful 6-foot-8 forward who can bang with the best. The senior ranked fifth in the conference in rebounding last year with 7,5, and should be one of the top rebounders again this year. He is the poor man’s Sean Lampley.
Oregon State: Philip Ricci
At 6-foot-7, 253 pounds, Ricci is a load in the middle. The senior led the Beavers in scoring (16.2) and rebounding (7.1) last season, and will be heavily relied on once again this season. He will do his best to keep Oregon State out of the Pac-10 cellar this season.