Looking Ahead: The Pac-10

With UCLA seemingly back on the map, it could be a banner few years for the Pac-10. The Bruins are the first non-Arizona Pac-10 Final Four team since Stanford in 1998 and the Wildcats, Stanford and Washington all bring in top-20 recruiting classes. So just how does the Pac-10 shape up for next season?

Obviously it is still early. It is safe to say that players will leave for the NBA or transfer out. Rosters will still change, but we can still get a good idea of how the league will look.

Competing for the Pac-10 title:

UCLA
The Bruins are coming off a dream season and could be just as good if everyone comes back. They have the league's best backcourt and a decent crop of young players.
Who they lose: Ryan Hollins C, Cedric Bozeman F, Michael Fey C.
Who they could lose: Jordan Farmar G, Arron Afflalo G, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Who they add: Josh Shipp (injury redshirt), James Keefe PF, Marko Spica PF
If the Cats lose Farmar and Afflalo they will still be very good. Shipp, who was injured most of the season, could fill in for Afflalo and Darren Collison seems to be a very nice point guard. They lose a lot on the front line but add two young, talented recruits. If they don't lose much to the draft, the Bruins are a top-five team. Even if all three bolt, they are likely a top-20 team with loads of potential.

Arizona
The Cats were up and down, and lose three seniors, but should be improved next season. Point guard and post play.
Who they lose: Hassan Adams SF, Chris Rodgers G, Isaiah Fox C
Who they could lose: Marcus Williams SF, Mustafa Shakur PG, J.P. Prince
Who they add: Chase Budinger SF, Nic Wise PG, Jordan Hill PF, Jawann McClellan (injury)
There are still questions, but the Cats return a lot of talent. Mustafa Shakur played the best basketball of his career late in the season, while Marcus Williams and Ivan Radenovic emerged as big time performers. Getting McClellan back is big, as is having McDonald's All-American Chase Budinger join the fold. They need to bolster the front line. Kirk Walters has one year left to prove himself and either Fendi Onobun or Mohamed Tangara needs to step up.

Washington
The Huskies lose a lot, but they add a lot. They will miss Brandon Roy and Bobby Jones, but they overcame the loss of Tre Simmons and Nate Robinson this season.
Who they lose: Brandon Roy SG, Bobby Jones SF, Jamaal Williams PF, Mike Jensen PF
Who they could lose: No one of significance.
Who they add: Harvey Perry (redshirt), Zach Johnson (redshirt), Spencer Hawes C, Phil Nelson SG, Quincy Pondexter SF, Adrian Oliver PG
If some youngsters can integrate quickly, the Huskies will be very good. More than likely they are a year off from national prominence. They can't replace Roy and Jones, but Pondexter and Perry are athletic talents, Nelson and Ryan Appleby can shoot the lights out. Hawes should step in right away and team with AAU teammate Brockman to be one of the better front lines in the league.

NCAA Tournament potential: Stanford
The Cardinal were a disappointment last year, but return a lot of youth. If Trent Johnson can mold this team they could be a nice club by March.
Who they lose: Chris Hernandez PG, Dan Grunfeld SF, Matt Haryasz PF, Jason Haas
Who they could lose: No one of significance.
Who they add: Landry Fields SG, Da'veed Dildy PG, Will Paul PF, Brook Lopez PF, Robin Lopez C
The bad news is that the Cardinal lose their three best players off of a team that failed to make the NCAA's. The good news is that they have a host of young talent and add two elite big men prospects in the Lopez twins. Expect Anthony Goods, Lawrence Hill and Mitch Johnson to be better in their second year. They don't have enough to contend for the league crown, but should be looking at the postseason.

Cal
The big question is Leon Powe. If Powe stays, the Bears could be very good. If he bolts, they could slide to the lower half of the league.
Who they lose: Rod Benson C, Richard Midgely SG, Martin Smith G
Who they could lose: Leon Powe PF, DeVon Hardin C
Who they add: Jerome Randle PG, Ryan Anderson C, Patrick Christopher SG, Taylor Harrison PF
The Bears will miss Midgely, but should be able to fill the void with Omar Wilkes, Nikola Knezevic, Theo Robertson and possibly the newcomer Christopher. If they lose both Powe and Hardin they could be in big trouble but can weather the loss of one with youngster Jordan Wilkes along with the two young big men they signed. This could be a key year for Ben Braun.

USC
Year two of the Tim Floyd era could be a fun one. After revamping the roster last season, the Trojans may be poised for good things.
Who they lose: Dwayne Shackleford G, Greg Gaudino F
Who they could lose: Nick Young G, Gabe Pruitt PG, Davon Jefferson, several transfer candidates
Who they add: Derek Glasser PG, Davon Jefferson F, Dwight Lewis SG, Casey Cunnigham PF, Taj Gibson PF, Kevin Galloway SF
Don't expect either Young or Pruitt to bolt and if they stay they will form a great back court. The front line gets a boost from freshmen Jefferson and Gibson, both of whom played at prep schools. Jefferson flirted with the NBA and could still decide to give it a go but it sounds as if he plans on at least a year in school. If all the pieces mesh, the Trojans could battle for a top-three spot.

Oregon
The Ducks were loaded with potential but did nothing with it. They could not even break .500 last season. They return the bulk of their scoring, but have yet to prove that they can do anything with it.
Who they lose: Matt Short C, Brandon Lincoln SG
Who they could lose: Malik Hairston SF
Who they add:Joevan Catron PF, Tajuan Porter PG
The Ducks underachieved last season but upset Washington in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament and probably saved Ernie Kent's job. Now Kent has to build on that win. He has loads of athletes, especially at the wings. Hairston is a solid performer and Chamberlain Oguchi appears to be a star in the making. Aaron Brooks is a capable point guard but someone has to step up and help out Ivan Johnson inside. If the Ducks put it all together they should be an NCAA caliber team. At worst they should be an N.I.T. team, but you could say that about this year's team.

Work to do

Oregon State
The Beavers could not build upon the success of two years ago, but have some talent in place. Jay John has his work cut out for him, but there is some players to work with.
Who they lose: Lamar Hurd G, Jason Fontenet G, Nick Dewitz F, Chris Stephens G
Who they could lose: No one of significance.
Who they add: Seth Tarver SF, Calvin Haynes SG, Lathen Wallace SF, Josh Tarver (redshirt)
The Beavers lose a lot of veteran talent but also retain a lot of young, promising players. Sasha Cuic could be a star, while the Tarver brothers have a lot of potential. Maybe that is the key to the Beavers, potential. If it gets maximized the Beavers could sneak into the upper half of the league.

Arizona State
ASU has a new coach and some young talent. We probably won't know how well Herb Sendek will do until next season.
Who they lose: Allen Morrill F, Tyrone Jackson G Who they could lose: No one of significance.
Who they add: Josh Love PF (JC), Christian Polk SG, George Odufuwa PF
Sendek is a good coach and there is some talent in place. The bulk of the starting line-up returns but they lack a traditional, solid point guard. Kevin Kruger and Bryson Krueger can both score, while Jeffrey Pendegraph was one of the better rookies in the Pac-10. Expect Sylvester Seay to be improved this season and Christian Polk could provide bench scoring. At best, the Devils could move their way into fifth or sixth place in the conference, but that is a long shot.

Washington State
The good news is that the Cougars return all but one player from last year's team. The bad news is that they were not very good. Tony Bennett has a chance to put his stamp on the program.
Who they lose: Randy Green G
Who they could lose: No one of significance.
Who they add: Charles Dillon PG (JC)
Bennett will try to get more out of this young team than his father did the year before. 10 of the players on last year's roster were either freshmen or sophomores. Despite a lot of youth, this team seems destined for a near the bottom finish next year.


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