Best of the West: Offseason Hoops Winners

There is no doubt that the most productive program over the course of the offseason has been the Cal Golden Bears. The Bears have received five commitments from the class of 2003 and might wind up with the No. 1 class nationally should they ink all five. <BR>With Cal earning the top spot on this tour around the Pac-10, West Coast and Mountain West conferences during the offseason, take a peek at some of the other movers and shakers going into the 2002-03 season.

California has had more than its share of hard times over the last decade or so.

Eight players have either left early for the NBA draft, transferred or were unable to enroll at the Berkeley campus because of eligibility issues. Throw in some NCAA sanctions after former coach Todd Bozeman made a mockery of recruiting rules and you have Bears team playing catch up to the rest of the teams in the Pac-10.

Now, however, it looks like the Bears might find themselves as the team to beat in the entire Western Region thanks to two consecutive recruiting classes that rank among the nation's best.

Here are the winners of the offseason from around the Pac-10, Mountain West and West Coast conferences.

No. 1 Cal Golden Bears (Berkeley, CA)
2001-02 record: 23-9 (12-6, Pac-10, T-2nd)
Postseason: Lost, NCAA second round
Returning starters: 2

Additions/recruiting classes (10):
2002 recruits (4): Richard Midgley (6-1, 190 PG, Modesto, CA); David Paris (6-8, 260 PF, Modesto, CA); Rod Benson (6-9, 200 C ); Jordi Geli Vilardell (6-9, 190 WF, Spain) 2002 redshirt: 1)-Erik Bond (6-7, 190 Redshirt Fr. WG, Seattle).
*Decent class but nothing compared to what comes to Berkeley a year later.

2003 recruits (5): Ayinde Ubaka (6-4, 190 PG, Oakland); Leon Powe (6-7, 240 PF, Oakland); Dominic McGuire (6-5, 195 SF, San Diego); Wesley Washington (6-3, 175 G, Santa Ana, CA); Marquise Kately (6-5, 200 G/F, Oakland).
*Quite possibly the nation's No. 1 recruiting haul from the class of 2003. Powe is a top five player and Ubaka is in the top 25 nationally. Kately, a prep schooler this year, is a scoring dynamo on the wing, as is McGuire, and they'll help offset the loss of Shipp and Wethers. Washington is an intense athlete capable of playing lockdown defense. If he learns to shoot, he'll be a very nice college player.

Losses/defections:
2002-PG Shantay Legans transferred to nearby Fresno State after starting at the point for three years in Berkeley. That hurts the Bears experience-wise, but it could wind up helping in the development of Midgley. Freshman center Jamal Sampson left after only one year for the NBA draft. He was taken 47th overall. Also, center Gabriel Hughes left the program but wound up returning and has two years of eligibility left.

Projected 2003 Lineup: (*=returning starter)
PG- Richard Midgley, 6-1, 190 Fr. (Top 150 prospect from Modesto)
SG-Joe Shipp*, 6-5, 220 Sr. (14.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, .486FG%, .352 3pt%, .781FT%)
SF-Brian Wethers*, 6-5, 215 Sr. (10.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, .477FG%, .191 3pt%, .713FT%)
PF-Amit Tamir, 6-10, 240 So. (9.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, .400FG%, .325 3pt%, .829FT%)
C-Gabriel Hughes, 6-10, 215 Jr. (3.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, left the team then returned)
Bench:
David Paris, 6-8, 260 Fr. PF (Top 100 prospect from Modesto)
Rod Benson, 6-9, 200 Fr. F/C (14 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.8 blks; No. 3 center on West Coast)
Erik Bond, 6-7, 190 Fr. F/G (Redshirted in 2002 due to ankle surgery)
Donte Smith, 6-2, 190 Sr. G (Valuable role player off the Bears' bench)
AJ Diggs, 5-10, 160 Jr. PG (3.2 ppg, 1.6 apg, 47 stls in 16.5 mpg)
Jordi Geli Vilardell, 6-9, 190 Fr. F (One of Spain's top junior national players)
Conor Famulener, 6-6, 225 Jr. SF (Walk-on awarded scholarship for 2003)

2004 outlook (*=probable starter)
Guards: *Ubaka (Fr.), *Kately (Fr.), Midgley (So.), Washington (Fr.) and Diggs (Sr.)
Forwards: *Tamir (Jr.), *Powe (Fr.), Bond (So.), McGuire (Fr.), Paris (So.) and Vilardell (So.)
Centers: *Hughes (Sr.) and Benson (So.)

Future in Berkeley is: Blinding. With these last two recruiting classes, head coach Ben Braun has set himself up nicely not only for Pac-10 and NCAA runs in 2003, but particularly in 2004 and beyond. Look for the Bears to put the full court press on another Oakland 2004 standout in scoring sensation Tim Pierce (6-7, 205 SF). If this East Bay-to-Berkeley pipeline continues to pay off for Cal the Bears will be playing in their first Final Four in over 50 years in the near future.

No. 2 San Diego State Aztecs (San Diego, CA)
2001-02 record: 21-12 (Mountain West tournament champions)
Postseason: Lost, NCAA first round
Returning starters: 3

Additions/recruiting classes (10):
2002 recruits (3):-Evan Burns (6-8, 220 Fr. SF, Los Angeles, (UCLA transfer); Samuel Eze (6-10, 210 Fr. C, Abuja, Nigeria); Brandon Heath (6-2, 170 Fr. PG, Los Angeles).
2002 transfers (2): Travis Hanour (6-6, 195 So. SF, Laguna Beach, CA, Arizona transfer); Chris Manker (6-11, 225 So. C, Laguna Beach, CA, Oregon State transfer).
2002 redshirts (3): Trimaine Davis (6-7, 215 Fr. F, Bay Point, CA); Steve Sir (6-6, 190 Fr. G, Minnetonka, MN); Markee White (6-7, 185 Fr. F, Long Beach, CA)
*Burns is the real gem of all of the newcomers. UCLA wanted him so badly but he didn't fully qualify. The Bruins' misfortune is the Aztecs' huge gain. He'll play well from Day One and should start every game he is in an Aztec uniform. The second semester additions of Hanour (Arizona) and Manker (Oregon State) should bolster the depth of the club. Brandon Heath is a very good guard coming off the bench as a freshman.

2003 recruits (1): Marcus Slaughter (6-8, 210 PF, San Diego)
2003 transfers (1): Wesley Stokes (5-10, 185 Jr. PG, Missouri transfer)
*Stokes should come in and start at the point guard spot after a good two year stay as Missouri's starter. Slaughter has upped his stock tremendously in recent months and will help backup Burns and Walton in the frontcourt.

Losses/defections: No one left for any other reason than exhausted eligibility.

Projected 2003 Lineup (*=returning starter)
PG-Deandre Moore*, 5-10, 195 Sr. (Steady floor leader)
SG-Tony Bland*, 6-5, 195 Sr. (Aztecs' top returning player should flourish)
SF-Evan Burns, 6-8, 220 Fr. (McDonald's All-American a year ago at Fairfax HS)
PF-Chris Walton, 6-8, 230 Jr. (Two year reserve will get his chance in '03)
C-Mike Mackell*, 6-9, 240 Sr. (Impact transfer a year ago)
Bench:
Travis Hanour, 6-6, 195 So. SG (Eligible second semester)
Brandon Heath, 6-2, 170 Fr. PG (Helped lead Westchester HS to state title in 2002)
Aerick Sanders, 6-8, 200 Jr. PF (Good role player)
Chris Manker, 6-11, 225 So. C (Eligible second semester)
Tommy Johnson, 6-4, 185 So. SG (Playing time hard to find this deep on the roster)
Trimaine Davis, 6-7, 215 RS Fr. SF (Coming off of redshirt year)
Samuel Eze, 6-10, 210 Fr. C (Might redshirt to learn the game and add weight)

2004 outlook: (*=probable starter)
Guards: *Stokes (Jr.), *Hanour (Jr.), Heath (So.), Johnson (Jr.)
Forwards: *Burns (So.), *Walton (Sr.), Slaughter (Fr.), Sanders (Sr.)
Centers: *Manker (Jr.), Eze (Fr./So.)

Future in San Diego is: Uncharted territory. With all of these transfers from impact four-year universities, SDSU puts itself among the powers on the West Coast. And while 2003 should be a productive season that might see the Aztecs capture a second straight automatic berth from the Mountain West Conference, it is 2004 that sets up best as far as making an NCAA run is concerned. In '04, SDSU will have at least seven Pac-10 level athletes and could advance past the NCAA's first weekend.

No. 3 Arizona Wildcats (Tucson, AZ)
2001-02 record: 24-10 (12-6, Pac-10, conference tournament champions)
Postseason: Lost, NCAA Sweet 16
Returning starters: 5

Additions/recruiting classes (5):
2002 recruits (4): Andre Iguodala (6-7, 215 Fr. SF, Springfield, IL); Hassan Adams, (6-4, 205 Fr. G/F, Los Angeles); Chris Rodgers (6-4, 190 Fr. G, Portland); Chris Dunn (6-7, 185 Fr. F, Hobbs, NM)
*All four recruits won their respective state's Player of the Year award. Iguodala, Adams and Rodgers were all named Parade All-Americans and Dunn was called the "sleeper recruit of the country". This is a top three class nationally even with Dunn redshirting.

2004 recruit (1): Jawann McClellan (6-5, 190 G/F, Houston)
*While the Wildcats have yet to get a commitment out of the current 2003 class, it has secured one of America's premier shooter/scorers in the loaded class of 2004. McClellan is a very strong athlete with perhaps the best shooting stroke in his class.

Losses/defections: None.

Projected 2003 Lineup: (*=returning starter)
PG-Jason Gardner*, 5-10, 185 Sr. (20.4 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2nd team All-American)
SG-Salim Stoudamire*, 6-1, 180 So. (12.8 ppg, .453 3pt%, .904FT%, Pac-10 FOY)
SF-Luke Walton*, 6-8, 240 Sr. (15.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.8 spg, 1st team A-A)
F-Rick Anderson*, 6-9, 230 Sr. (13.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg, .405 3pt%)
C-Channing Frye*, 6-11, 240 So. (9.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.5 bpg, .595FG%)
Bench:
Andre Iguodala, 6-7, 215 Fr. SF (Illinois state Player of the Year; Parade A-A)
Hassan Adams, 6-4, 210 Fr. G/F (Calif. state Player of the Year; McDonald's A-A)
Isaiah Fox, 6-9, 265 So. F/C (4.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
Dennis Latimore, 6-8, 245 So. PF (1.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg; Most improved player in offsesason)
Will Bynum, 5-10, 185 So. G (6.4 ppg, 2.0 apg)
Chris Rodgers, 6-4, 190 Fr. G (Oregon state Player of the Year; Parade A-A)
Chris Dunn, 6-7, 185 Fr. F (New Mexico state Player of the Year)

2004 outlook (*=projected starter):
Guards: *Stoudamire (Jr.), *Adams (So.), Rodgers (So.), Bynum (Jr.)
Forwards: *Iguodala (So.), *Latimore (Jr.), Dunn (RS Fr.)
Centers: *Fyre (Jr.), Fox (Jr.)
*(Arizona will sign at least two out of the 2003 class to go along with the players listed above and will not have any seniors on the entire roster).

The future in Tucson is: Dynastic. The Wildcats are favored to win the 2003 National Championship this season and, depending on whom they get from the 2003 recruiting class, should be favored to go back-to-back in 2004. The roster is loaded at every position and the depth is amazing. 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 should see Arizona favored to reach the Final Four each year.

No. 4 Gonzaga Bulldogs (Spokane, WA)
2001-02 record: 29-4 (13-1, West Coast Conference, Champions)
Postseason: Lost, NCAA first round
Returning starters: 3

Additions/recruiting classes (10):
2002 recruits (1): Sean Mallon (6-8, 210 F, Spokane, WA)
2002 redshirts (4): Tyler Amaya (6-6, 195 SF, Mt. Vernon); Dustin Villepigue (6-9, 220 PF, Simi Valley, CA); Colin Floyd (6-0, 180 G, Harrington, WA); Josh Reisman (6-0, 165 PG, Mt. Vernon)
2002 transfers (1): Richard Fox (6-11, 280 Jr. C, Denver, CO, Colorado transfer)
*Two players coming off of redshirt years, Amaya and Fox, should make an immediate impact while the Zags' only true freshman recruit (Mallon) is a redshirt candidate to save his potential for later years. Amaya might wind up being an impact player this season.

2003 recruits (2): Derek Raivio (6-1, 155 PG, Mountain View, WA); Adam Morrison (6-5, 190 WG, Spokane, WA)
2003 transfers (1): Erroll Knight (6-7, 200 SF, Seattle, WA, Washington transfer)
*This threesome could wind up being very special for head coach Mark Few. Raivio has turned into a top 50 prospect nationally as well as one of the five best point guards from the class of 2003. Morrison shoots like his idol, Larry Bird, and is a surprisingly good rebounder. He's just solid no matter how you cut it. Then there's Knight, an athlete of the first class with size. Knight is the type of athlete that Gonzaga has lacked over the last five years that the Zags have been a national power.

2004 recruits (1): David Pendergraft (6-4, 190 SG, Brewster, WA)
*"Pendo" should find himself ranked among the nation's top 75 players by the time he graduates from Brewster HS two years from now. He's an all-around player with a good shot. Also, expect the Zags to be in on a pair of rising stars from 2004, 6-9 PF Josh Heytvelt and 6-2 PG Jordan Farmar.

Losses/defections: None.

Projected 2003 Lineup (*=returning starter)
PG-Winston Brooks, 6-0, 190 Sr. (2.6 ppg, 2.9 apg in 14 games last year)
SG-Blake Stepp*, 6-4, 195 Jr. (9.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.9 apg)
SF-Tony Skinner, 6-5, 195 Jr. (Coming off of a redshirt year)
PF-Zach Gourde*, 6-8, 250 Sr. (13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, .535FG%)
C-Cory Violette*, 6-8, 255 Jr. (12.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, .498FG%)
Bench:
Ronny Turiaf, 6-9, 230 So. PF (7.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .525FG%)
Tyler Amaya, 6-6, 190 RS Fr. SF (Coming off of redshirt year)
Kyle Bankhead, 6-3, 190 Jr. SG (4.0 ppg, .413FG%, .412 3pt%)
Richard Fox, 6-11, 280 Jr. C (Colorado transfer)
Dustin Villepigue, 6-9, 220 RS Fr. PF (Coming off of redshirt year)

2004 outlook (*=probable starter):
Guards: *Raivio (Fr.), *Stepp (Sr.), Skinner(Sr.), Bankhead (Sr.), Morrison (Fr.), Michaelson (Jr.)
Forwards: *Amaya (So.), *Turiaf (Jr.), Knight (Jr.), Mallon (RS Fr.), Villepigue (So.)
Centers: *Violette (So.), Fox (Sr.)

The future in Spokane is: Progressive. It all started in 1999 when the Zags reached the Elite Eight and has continued with Sweet 16s in 2000 and 2001 before an early exit a year ago. The recruits that Gonzaga has coming in are special and could be the next in the long line of hidden gems such as Matt Santangelo, Richie Frahm, Dan Dickau, Blake Stepp and Cory Violette. Expect Raivio to turn into a very special player before his career is done.

No. 5 ASU Sun Devils (Tempe, AZ)
2001-02 record: 14-15 (7-11, Pac-10, 7th)
Postseason: Lost, NIT first round
Returning starters: 4

Additions/recruiting classes (6):
2002 recruits (4): Ike Diogu (6-9, 240 Fr. F/C, Garland, TX); Jamal Hill (6-6, 200 Jr. SF, JC transfer); Serge Angounou (6-7, 225 Fr. F, Albuquerque, NM); Allen Morill (6-6, 220 Fr. SF Arlington, Texas)
*ASU's best-ever recruiting class under Rob Evans figures to give the Sun Devils immediate hope for a berth in the NCAAs. Diogu is being hailed as a potential Sean Elliott-type of program builder and Hill is a perfect fit on the wing. Angounou is another top 150 guy with a good upside.

2003 recruits (2): Tron Smith (6-1, 190 PG, Moreno Valley, CA); Keith Wooden (6-8, 220 PF, Lawrence, KS).
*The first two pieces of the 2003 recruiting puzzle are very solid. Smith is an explosive and strong athlete with a shot to match. Wooden, who might struggle to qualify academically, is an impressive physical specimen who did well at this summer's Nike All-American Camp in Indianapolis. The Devils will recruit at least two more players from the '03 class to add much needed depth to the 2004 team.

Losses/defections: None.

Projected 2003 Lineup: (*=returning starter)
PG-Jason Braxton*, 6-2, 180 So. (6.1 ppg; Very athletic but poor shooter)
SG-Curtis Millage*, 6-2, 175 Sr. (13.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg; Good defender and outside shooter)
G/F-Kenny Crandall, 6-3, 195 Jr. (6.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg; Too small but good shooter)
F-Tommy Smith*, 6-10, 220 Sr. (11.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg; Athletic but foul prone. Big upside)
F/C-Ike Diogu, 6-9, 240 Fr. (Top 50 prospect from Garland, Texas)
Bench:
Kyle Dodd, 6-0, 175 Sr. PG (3.2 ppg, 2.3 apg; Deceptively athletic but second-tier talent)
Shawn Redhage, 6-7, 225 Sr. SF (5.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg; Nice mid-range game, little else)
Donnell Knight, 6-8, 210 Sr. F (Disappointing career so far for the former McD's A-A)
Jamal Hill, 6-6, 200 Jr. SF (23 ppg, 48% FGs, 39% 3s as No. 7 JC small forward)
Serge Angounou, 6-7, 225 Fr. F (Top 150 prospect from Albuquerque, NM)
Allen Morill, 6-6, 220 Fr. SF (Athletic shooter from Arlington, Texas)
Chris Osborne, 6-9, 245 Sr. PF (2.1 ppg; injury kept him out part of '02 season)

2004 outlook (*=probable starter)
Guards: *Braxton (Jr.), *Smith (Fr.), Hill (Sr.), Crandall (Sr.)
Forwards: *Morrill (So.), *Angounou (So.), Wooden (Jr.)
Centers: *Diogu (So.)

The future in Tempe is: Improving. Two straight impressive recruiting classes gives ASU a chance to build something. The 2003 class is already strong but could get even stronger with two or three more impact signees. Evans has been less than spectacular in some of his past talent evaluations (Dodd, Redhage, Knight, etc.) so it remains to be seen if he can round out this class with some upper level players.

No. 6 Utah Utes (Salt Lake City, UT)
2001-02 record: 21-9 (10-4, MWC, 2nd)
Postseason: Lost, NCAA first round
Returning starters: 3

Additions/recruiting classes (9):
2002 recruits (4): Richard Chaney (6-5, 180 WG, Los Angeles); Bryant Markson (6-7, 190 SF, Monrovia, CA); Tim Drisdom (6-3, 195 PG, Artesia, CA); Andrew Bogut (6-9, 205 F/C, Endeavor Hills, Victoria, Australia)
2002 redshirts (1): Chris Jackson (6-11, 245 C, Los Alamos, NM)
2002 transfers (1): Tim Frost (6-10, 235 Jr. C, Klamath Falls, OR, Portland transfer)
2002 returning missionaries (1): Marc Jackson (6-1, 185 So. PG, Salt Lake City, UT)
*A very solid group of newcomers led by southern California prep standouts Chaney and Markson. Drisdom is a big point guard with skills and the Portland transfer Frost was a first-team All-WCC pick as a sophomore and brings immediate improvement to the Utes' frontline. All in all, a very solid group in 2002.

2003 recruits (2): Justin Hawkins (6-6, 185 SF, Lakewood, CA); Stefan Zimmerman (6-9, 210 PF, Orem, UT)
*Hawkins is a shorter yet more aggressive version of Stanford standout Josh Childress, a former teammate of Hawkins' at Maywood High. Hawkins has a very steep upside and could be a top player in the MWC for years to come. Zimmerman is a highly rated power forward and should provide depth as a freshman before stepping into the spotlight himself in later years.

Losses/defections (3): Lance Alred (6-10, 240 Jr. C, transferred to Weber State), Martin Osimani (6-3, 205 SG, transferred after freshman year), Eric Osmundson (6-3, 195 PG, transferred after freshman year)

Projected 2003 Lineup (*=returning starter)
PG-Tim Drisdom, 6-3, 195 Fr. (three-time first team All-State in California)
SG-Nick Jacobson*, 6-4, 200 Jr. (13.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, .444 3pt%)
SF-Britton Johnsen*, 6-9, 215 Sr. (12.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2002 MWC Player of the Year)
PF-Tim Frost, 6-10, 235 Jr. (14.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.9 bpg at Portland Univ. in 2001)
C-Cameron Koford*, 6-11, 230 Sr. (3.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, .667FG%)
Bench:
Trace Caton, 6-5, 215 Sr. G/F (4.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.3 apg)
Richard Chaney, 6-5, 180 Fr. WG (First team All-CIF as a senior)
Bryant Markson, 6-7, 190 Fr. SF (Two-time first team All-State in California)
Andrew Bogut, 6-9, 205 Fr. F/C (Native of Australia; Eligible second semester)
Chris Jackson, 6-11, 245 RS Fr. C (20 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 4.9 bpg as '01 POY in NM)
Marc Jackson, 6-1, 185 So. PG (Sat out 2001-02 after returning from mission)

2004 outlook (*=probable starter):
Guards: *Drisdom (So.), *Jacobson (Sr.), Chaney (So.), M. Jackson (Jr.)
Forwards: *Markson (So.), *Bogut (So.), Hawkins (Fr.), Zimmerman (Fr.)
Centers: *Frost (Sr.), C. Jackson (So.)

The future in Salt Lake is: Reminiscent. The days when Utah was a perennial top 10-15 team could be a year away with the additions of players like Frost, Zimmerman and the SoCal trio of Markson, Chaney and Hawkins. Rick Majerus has the Utes back on track to the top of the Mountain West in a battle with San Diego State and Wyoming.

Other "winners" of the offseason:
*Oregon (Landed a top 2003 PG in Aaron Brooks to replace Ridnour)
*USC (Got the Stewart twins, both of whom are top 50 players in the '03 class)
*Washington (Very nice 2002 class featuring Brandon Roy and Bobby Jones)

Preseason Best of the West rankings (2003 season):
1. Arizona
2. Oregon
3. Gonzaga
4. UCLA
5. Pepperdine
6. Wyoming
7. Cal
8. San Diego State
9. ASU
10. USC
11. Utah
12. Washington
13. UNLV
14. Oregon State
15. Stanford
16. New Mexico

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Contact Ben Hansen at Bhansen6677@aol.com

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