Cal Basketball: The Pac-12 Winners and Losers after the NBA Draft Deadline
Monday was the final day for college basketball players to either keep their name in the NBA draft pool or make the call to return to school. The deadline had no impact on Cal, one of just two Pac-12 programs that had neither a player defect to the NBA or withdraw from the draft.
But the decisions made by these three key players will have a significant impact on how the Pac-12 championship race unfolds, with the daily caveat that we don’t know for sure whether we will have a season:
— Chris Smith, UCLA: The senior guard is staying in Westwood, giving second-year coach Mick Cronin five returning starters from a team that won 11 of its final 14 games. Smith is a key piece after averaging a team-best 13.1 points along with 5.4 rebounds. The Bruins will be at least a co-favorite in the Pac-12.
— Remy Martin, Arizona State: The Sun Devils are positioned alongside UCLA as a solid preseason choice to win the conference after Martin’s decision to stay in Tempe. Martin is the league’s top returning scorer at 19.2 points per game and will contend for Player of the Year honors. "Remy will be one of the best players in college basketball this year,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley said in a statement, “and will be on a mission to lead Arizona State basketball in its pursuit of championships.”
— Tyrell Terry, Stanford: Terry enjoyed a splendid freshman season for the Cardinal, averaging 14.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists while converting 41 percent of his 3-point attempts and his return could have lifted Stanford into the conference title conversation. In a mild surprise, the 6-foot-3, 160-pound guard kept his name in the draft. NBAdraft.net projects him as the No. 17 overall pick but the same site has him at No. 43 in a consensus mock draft. Stanford will still be good, but Terry’s loss is significant.
Here’s how Pac-12 rosters look after Monday’s draft deadline:
ARIZONA: The Wildcats knew last spring that three talented freshmen — guards Nico Mannion and Josh Green and forward Zeke Nnaji — were NBA-bound. Sean Miller has reloaded with with European talent, led by Lithuanian twin big men Azuolas and Tautvilas Tubelis. Freshman wing Dalen Terry of Phoenix is a top-50 prospect and transfers James Akinjo (13.4 points, 4.4 assists at Georgetown) and Terrell Brown (20.9 points, 4.5 assists at Seattle U) will provide experience in the backcourt.
ARIZONA STATE: Besides Martin, the Sun Devils held onto Alonzo Verge (14.6 points), a senior guard who scored 43 of his team’s 56 points in a freakish loss to Saint Mary’s. Forward Romello White (10.2 points, 8.8 rebounds) transferred to Ole Miss, but ASU signed five-star prospect Josh Christopher, younger brother of former Cal standout Patrick Christopher.
CAL: Guard Matt Bradley (17.5 points) is the top returnee to coach Mark Fox’s squad, which won 14 games in his debut after the Bears suffered consecutive eight-win seasons. Five newcomers will augment the roster, although Cal still doesn’t know if Fresno State transfer guard Jarred Hyder (9.1 points) will be eligible.
COLORADO: The Buffaloes had two players in the early entry pool for the NBA draft. Point guard McKinley Wright IV (14.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists) chose to stay in school and will be one of the Pac-12’s best players. Forward Tyler Bey (13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds) is gone, putting a dent in CU’s hopes of building on last season’s 21-win total.
OREGON: Along with Cal, the Ducks had no one choosing between staying or going. Star senior point guard Payton Pritchard has graduated, but the Ducks return virtually everyone else and should remain a player in the conference race.
OREGON STATE: Little surprise that point guard Ethan Thompson (14.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists) withdrew his name from the draft. But the Beavers suffered big losses with the graduation of Tres Tinkle and Kylor Kelley and look like second-division material.
STANFORD: Coach Jerod Haase still has plenty of talent, led by seniors Oscar da Silva (15.7 points, 6.4 rebounds) and Daejon Davis (8.8 points, 3.7 assists) and the arrival of freshman wing Ziaire Williiams, the highest-rated player ever to sign with the Cardinal.
UCLA: The Bruins haven’t won a conference regular-season title since 2013, but a veteran roster should hit the ground running after a year to get comfortable with Cronin at the helm. UCLA adds Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang, a 6-foot-6 native of Los Angeles, who is eligible immediately.
USC: It was a done deal in the spring that big man Onyeka Okongwu would exit after leading the Trojans in scoring (16.2) and rebounding (8.6) as a freshman. He is projected as a top-10 NBA pick. The Trojans will live with Evan Mobley, a 6-11 freshman center who is projected as a top-5 NBA pick in 2021.
UTAH: Forward Timmy Allen (17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds) announced in June he would pull out of the draft to play his junior season and Utah has most of its team back after a disappointing 7-11 conference record. Sophomore-to-be point guard Rylan Jones (9.6 points, 4.5 assists) showed promise. Gone is guard Both Each (10.7 points), who transferred to Minnesota.
WASHINGTON: There was no last-minute drama involving freshmen Isaiah Stewart (17.0 points, 8.8 rebounds) and Jaden McDaniels (13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds), both of whom had targeted the NBA even before they arrived in Seattle. UW’s only newcomer currently eligible for the 2020-21 season is point guard Nate Pryor, who led North Idaho JC to a two-year record of 59-3.
WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars suffer a big loss after the decision by C.J. Elleby (18.4 points, 7.8 rebounds) to stay in the NBA draft after two college seasons. Guard Isaac Bonton (15.3 points) returns for his senior season and coach Kyle Smith has recruited well but the Cougars will struggle to escape the lower echelon of the conference standings.
*** The nerve-wracking wait to see if players will return to school or stay in the NBA draft is the kind of problem Cal coach Mark Fox would love to have:
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo
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