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Basketball: It’s June — time to pick the Pac

    In the 82 days since a Pac-10 team most recently played a basketball game, three schools have changed coaches and seven underclassmen entered the NBA draft. No question, the league will have a different look in 2009-10.

   With the dust beginning to settle on a busy spring – except perhaps at USC,  where new coach Kevin O’Neill awaits the outcome of an NCAA investigation – enough is in place to make an early projection of next season’s Pac-10 race.

   Here goes (with last year’s record/finish):

   1. WASHINGTON (26-9, 14-4/1st): A peaceful offseason so far in Seattle, where senior Quincy Pondexter, who made huge late-season strides last year, earned a spot on the U.S. team playing in the World University Games. Incoming freshman guard Abdul Gaddy will team with returnees Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton to give UW a terrific perimeter. A key will be whether junior post Matthew Bryan-Amaning can give the Huskies consistent interior punch.

   Projected starting lineup:
   C Matthew Bryan-Amaning, 6-9 Jr.
   SF Quincy Pondexter, 6-6 Sr.
   SG Venoy Overton, 5-11 Jr.
   SG Isaiah Thomas, 5-8 So.
   PG Abdul Gaddy, 6-3 Fr.

   2. CAL (22-11, 11-7/tied 3rd): In senior guards Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher, the Bears have the only two players returning from the 10-man all-conference team. They need a lift in the post from JC transfer Markhuri Sanders-Frison. Cal’s chances of challenging for the top spot depend in part on the recovery of three key players who underwent offseason surgery _ Theo Robertson (hip), Harper Kamp (knee) and Jorge Gutierrez (knee). Kamp’s situation is the most uncertain.

   Projected starting lineup:
   C Markhuri Sanders-Frison, 6-8 Jr.
   PF Jamal Boykin, 6-8 Sr.
   SF Theo Robertson, 6-6 Sr.
   SG Patrick Christopher, 6-5 Sr.
   PG Jerome Randle, 5-10 Sr.

   3. UCLA (26-9, 13-5/2nd): The Bruins lost three seniors who combined to score nearly 39 points per game, plus freshman guard Jrue Holiday to the NBA draft. His departure leaves UCLA without a clear answer at point guard. San Jose’s Drew Gordon, expected to compete for a starting forward spot, should be OK after a minor knee injury earlier this month. The Bruins have talent, but will be very young.

   Projected starting lineup:
   C Brendan Lane, 6-10 Fr.
   PF Drew Gordon, 6-8 So.
   SF Nikola Dragovic, 6-9 Sr.
   SG Michael Roll, 6-5 Sr.
   PG Jerime Anderson, 6-1 So.

   4. OREGON STATE (18-18, 7-11/8th): Can coach Craig Robinson’s Beavers make another big leap? They return much of the team that won the College Basketball Invitational, and add a well-regarded five-man recruiting class that includes San Leandro guard Jared Cunningham. Plus, they survived the spring without another school stealing away Robinson.

   Projected starting lineup:
   C Roeland Schaftenaar, 6-11 Sr.
   PF Omari Johnson, 6-7 Jr.
   SF Seth Tarver, 6-5 Sr.
   SG Calvin Haynes, 6-2 Jr.
   PG Josh Tarver, 6-3 Sr.

   5. ARIZONA STATE (25-10, 11/7/tied 3rd): James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph, now pursuing pro careers, combined to provide the Sun Devils nearly 35 points and 14 rebounds last season. In their absence, complementary players such as Derek Glasser must step into lead roles, but coach Herb Sendek has his defensive system in place and is building a foundation. The Devils won’t fall off the edge.

   Projected starting lineup:
   C Ruslan Pateev, 6-11 Fr.
   PF Victor Rudd, 6-7 Fr.
   SF Rihards Kuksiks, 6-6 Jr.
   SG Ty Abbott, 6-3 Jr.
   PG Derek Glasser, 6-1 Sr.

   6. ARIZONA (21-14, 9-9/tied 5th): A big rebuilding job for ex-Xavier coach Sean Miller, who arrived on campus as juniors Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger were signing up for the NBA draft. But the return of senior point guard Nic Wise was a huge lift, and Miller began restocking the shelves quickly by signing three players this spring, led by forward Solomon Hill of Fairfax High in Los Angeles.

   Projected starting lineup:
   C Kyryl Natyazhko, 6-10 Fr.
   PF Jamelle Horne, 6-6 Jr.
   SF Solomon Hill, 6-6 Fr.
   SG Kyle Fogg, 6-2 So.
   PG Nic Wise, 5-10 Sr.

   7. OREGON (8-23, 2-16/10th): A make-or-break season for coach Ernie Kent. Most of the team returns, led by senior guard and scoring leader Tajuan Porter. The keys will be whether center Michael Dunigan can begin to blossom after a disappointing freshman season and JC point guard Malcolm Armstead can solidify that spot after Kamyron Brown transferred.

   Projected starting lineup:
   C Michael Dunigan, 6-10 So.
   PF Joevan Catron, 6-6 Sr.
   SF LeKendric Longmire, 6-5 Jr.
   SG TaJuan Porter, 5-7 Sr.
   PG Malcolm Armstead, 6-0 So.

   8. WASHINGTON STATE (17-16, 8-10/7th): The five-year Bennett Era _ two with Dick and three with Tony _ has ended, but the Cougars are in good hands with new coach Ken Bone. He welcomes back sophomore guard Klay Thompson, a star in waiting, along with a solid recruiting class. In the short term, WSU will miss graduated seniors Taylor Rochestie and Aron Baynes.

   Projected starting lineup:
   C Brock Motum, 6-9 Fr.
   PF DeAngelo Casto, 6-8 So.
   SF Nikola Koprivica, 6-6 Sr.
   SG Klay Thompson, 6-6 So.
   PG Marcus Capers, 6-4 So. or Reggie Moore, 6-1 Fr.

   9. USC (22-13, 9-9/tied 5th): Still hard to know what to think about the Trojans, who lost underclassmen DeMar DeRozan, Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett to the NBA draft, underwent a coaching change after Tim Floyd resigned amid allegations, and have watched virtually their entire recruiting class flee. Leading scorer Dwight Lewis is back, but NCAA investigators are lurking and bad news surely seems on the way.

   Projected starting lineup:
   C Alex Stepheson, 6-9 Jr.
   PF Leonard Washington, 6-7 So.
   SF Nikola Vucevic, 6-10 So.
   SG Dwight Lewis, 6-5 Sr.
   PG Donte Smith, 5-11 Jr.

   10. STANFORD (20-14, 6-12/9th): Coach Johnny Dawkins lost three senior starters, then suspended junior center Will Paul for all of next season because of academic issues. Two of the Cardinal’s three freshmen recruits are coming off knee injuries, including spring signee Gabriel Harris, who is in the mix to replace Mitch Johnson at point guard. Landry Fields and Jeremy Green will shoulder a huge load.

   Projected starting lineup:
   C Andrew Zimmerman, 6-9 So.
   PF Josh Owens, 6-8 Jr.
   SF Landry Fields, 6-7 Sr.
   SG Jeremy Green, 6-4 So.
   PG Drew Shiller, 6-0 Sr.

Jeff Faraudo

  • Robert

    What few big players there are, are for the most part finesse players.