Leaders of the Pac

The Pac 12 has only had eight total NCAA bids the last three years, but now their two flagship programs seem to be back on track.

The past few years haven't exactly been ones to remember in the Pac-10/Pac-12. The conference has been the butt of jokes, and overall has fallen below its lofty standards of success. Now once again the two schools that have carried the banner for the league in the last quarter century are looking to be back on track.

With the commitment of Tony Parker to UCLA, it is safe to say the Bruins are back. UCLA now has commitments from three five-star recruits, including two of the top five in the country in Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson. The three five-star pledges are matched only by Arizona and Kentucky.

While Kentucky still slightly holds on to the top spot in the rankings, the fact that UCLA and Arizona are No. 2 and No. 3 is significant not only for the Pac 12, but for the entire West Coast.

There is a thought that it is better for the NBA when the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtics are good. The reason is those three teams are established brands in established markets which draw in viewers and give an added sense of credibility to the league.

In the new Pac 12, those two programs that the league needs to be ranked highly and having success would be UCLA and Arizona.

This past year, for the second time in the last three seasons both the Bruins and Wildcats missed the NCAA Tournament. Not surprisingly the fall of those two programs from perennial contenders has taken its toll on the league.

During the 2011-12 season the Pac 12 only received one at large bid, tied for its lowest ever. In the 2010-11 season four teams made the tournament, and in 2009-10 again only two teams made the Big Dance.

At least over the past few years, the league has gone how Arizona and UCLA have gone, and now the future is looking up for both programs, and also looking up for the entire league.

UCLA now has an interior presence in Parker, a do it all wing in Muhammad, a savvy distributor in Anderson, and a knock down shooter in Jordan Adams. The quartet will be asked to bring back to the Bruins not only the NCAA Tournament, but to the Final Four. While Muhammad might only be around for one year, Parker and Adams could be long term building blocks for the program, and pieces that can be built around in future recruiting classes.

Arizona has a three headed interior monster of Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, and Grant Jerrett. All three are capable scorers and rebounders standing at least 6-foot-8. Then they also added a volume scorer on the perimeter in Gabe York. What is impressive and important about this group, is all four project as guys who will need multiple years in college before moving on.

Overall with a little help from their friends, such as Tad Boyle at Colorado and Lorenzo Romar at Washington, the Pac 12 should be back. Like normal the Pac 12 championship will run through Tucson and Westwood. Just like that, all could be right again in the world of Pac 12 basketball thanks to a resurgence keyed by the 2012 class.

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