Pac-12 resurgence continues

By its standards, the Pac-12 suffered through some down seasons during the past few years, as the league was weaker top to bottom than typically has been the case throughout its history.

But that's now beginning to change. The league secured five of the country's top 25 recruiting classes last year — this season's college freshmen — and conference schools are on their way to performing even better with the Class of 2015.

At this moment, the Pac-12 holds not only the nation's No. 1 class — Arizona, on the basis of four top-50 prospects — but six overall within the top 25.

In addition to Sean Miller's Wildcats, Washington (No. 6), UCLA (No. 13), Oregon State (No. 14), USC (No. 20) and Stanford (No. 24) all reside within the top 25.

The league's incoming star power will be ferocious. Arizona continues to lead the way and might even be able to dominate the conference, depending upon how the pieces fit together, how long their guys remain on campus and, of course, how the rest of the league recruits.

Three top 17 prospects are headed to Tucson, including Ray Smith (No. 12, pictured above), Allonzo Trier (No. 13) and Justin Simon (No. 17). It's a perimeter-laden class to supplement Arizona's frontcourt work in recent years.

But UCLA has received a pair of top-40 commitments of its own: point guard Aaron Holiday (No. 36) and powerful wing Prince Ali (No. 38). Washington was able to keep Seattle guard Dejounte Murray (No. 39) at home, while athletic forward Chimezie Metu (No. 43) will give the league yet another top-shelf athlete when he matriculates to USC.

Murray could become an immediate scoring sensation

Beyond the player ratings and extending past bluebloods such as Arizona at the top, the Pac-12 has featured some of the cycle's greatest success stories.

Starting at Washington, Lorenzo Romar's Huskies have regained stride and should once again compete for NCAA Tournament runs. Even more noteworthy, however, has been Oregon State. Very, very rarely will one see the Beavers mentioned positively in basketball recruiting, but they've landed three top-100 commitments this year.

Even if they ultimately drop in the team rankings once more of the top 10 prospects come off the board — neither Kentucky nor Kansas has put together a ranked class yet, for example — this class has provided a breakthrough for OSU and watershed moments on the court could follow.

USC suffered through an 11-21 season last year while Andy Enfield retooled his club, but the Trojans are making gains quickly. In addition to Metu, USC also holds a ranked commitment from No. 52 Bennie Boatright, an excellent shooter in a power forward's body.

And the Pac-12 remains in contention for even more top talent. No. 1 Jaylen Brown will visit with the Bruins next weekend — and he'll be joined by No. 11 Carlton Bragg — while three of No. 5 Ivan Rabb's final five are league schools.

However the fall shakes out from here, the Pac-12 clearly has strengthened itself for the future.

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