With College Basketball right around the corner we are going to take a look back at the top returning player from each team in the conference. Please note that this is the top returning player.
Arizona - With apologies to the forward duo of Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski the top returning player is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. After Ashley went down an injury, Hollis-Jefferson entered the starting line-up and the team didn't miss a beat. He was always a beast on the glass and he got a lot more confidence once he entered the starting line-up. Plus who doesn't like his shimmy at the free throw line.
Arizona State - When the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to Shaquielle McKissic everyone in Tempe breathed a sigh of relief. With Jahii Carson leaving early and Jordan Bachysnki graduating the Sun Devils needed some veteran leadership and they get that with McKissic. Coach Sendek will be leaning heavily on his senior this season.
California - This pick is all about potential. David Kravish might have put up better stats but no returning player was more exciting for Cal than Jabari Bird. As a true freshman Bird put up decent numbers but now that Justin Cobbs is gone, I am excited to see his potential come to fruition.
Colorado - The top returning rebounder this year hails from Boulder, and Josh Scott has a good offensive game to go with it. After flirting with the NBA but deciding to come back to school, he will be counted on even more in Tad Boyles offense. Scott had 13 double-doubles last year and I expect him to average one this year.
Oregon - Despite all of the suspensions that took place in Eugene this year, hopes are high and that is because of Joseph Young. Young, a second team Pac-12 player last year, averaged 19 points a game and led the team in minutes played. After Young, the top returning scorer averaged under 7 per game, so they will be leaning on Young even more.
Oregon State- With only 8 players currently on scholarship and the top 5 scorers from last years team departing, pickings are pretty slim in Corvallis. The top returning player is Langston Morris-Walker, a Junior who averaged 4 points last year. Wayne Tinkle has his work cut out for him this year.
Stanford- After a surprising Sweet 16 run that probably saved Coach Dawkins job, expectations are raised on the Farm. A big reason for that was the play of Chasson Randle, a senior guard who led the team in scoring. With Dwight Powell off to the NBA the team keys to the bus belong to Randle, and that bus will be in very capable hands.
UCLA- Everyone knew that Zach Lavine and Kyle Anderson were going to go pro. Jordan Adams was more of a surprise and he would have been on this list had he returned. Since he left that honor now goes to Norman Powell. Powell, the only returning starter who averaged double digits, and has improved his points, rebounds, and assists each year in Westwood and this year will be the same.
USC- This spot was Byron Wesley's to lose. Then he lost it by transferring to Gonzaga. In his stead Nikola Jovanovic takes his place. As a freshman the 6-10 Jovanovic averaged 8 points and 4.5 rebounds in just 20 minutes of play. He has a polished offensive game, and if he can stay on the court and not get into foul trouble he will be a pleasant surprise for the Trojans.
Utah - Utah had the distinction of being the only team to have two players be in the top 15 in both points and rebounds in the Pac-12. The reason why I am going with Delon Wright and not Jordan Loveridge is because of everything else Wright brings to the table. Wright was also #2 in the conference in steals and averaged over a block a game as well.
Washington - Last year as a true freshman Nigel Williams-Goss started every game. He was first on the team in assists, second in scoring and steals, and fourth in rebounds. After smartly returning for his Sophomore season, he has a chance to be a 15 point 5 rebound 5 assist guy. Not too many of those in the conference.
Washington State - The cupboard is pretty bare for new coach Ernie Kent, but the one player he does have to look forward to is 3-year starter DaVonte Lacy. Everyone in the conference knew that Lacy was going to get the ball but he still put up almost 20 points a game. Now is a senior it is unquestionably his team and the Cougars will go as far as he takes them.