With the Pac-12 basketball season officially over, it's time to start looking ahead to the 2015 NBA Draft. Here are the initial Pac-12 players to keep an eye on in the draft regardless of whether or not they decide to declare or not.
1. Stanley Johnson Fr. SF Arizona
Johnson could have won Pac-12 Player of the Year as a freshman so it is no surprise that he is a guaranteed lottery pick and the unquestioned top NBA draft prospect from the Pac-12 this year. At 6'7 245 with defensive skills that are as good as anyone who has ever played in the Pac-12, Johnson looks like he could be a future Ron Artest without the baggage. I would be shocked if he stays on the board too long after the first five picks.
2. Kevon Looney Fr. F UCLA
Looney is your typical long forward who has the skills to play either small forward or power forward at the next level. He is a handful for defenders with his smooth offensive skills, mid-range shot and aggressiveness on the offensive glass and has the wingspan to be a be a very good defender. The fact that he is a bit of a tweener (doesn't have ideal size for a PF but doesn't have ideal lateral speed for a SF) might keep him out of the Top 10, but I still think he goes in the lottery.
3. Jakob Poeltl Fr. PF Utah
The big Austrian has come out of nowhere to rocket up draft boards and is now seen by some as a potential lottery pick, probably because people outside of the Pac-12 got to see him a little more in the tournament. Poeltl is raw, but he is a 7'0 235-pound Wagyu piece of raw meat that has elite skills for his size and has already shown an enthusiasm for defense and elite shot blocker skills. He reminds me a bit of a bigger Andrei Kirilenko. His raw skills on offense will probably keep him out of the Top 10 if he declares, but I don't see him falling too far out of the lottery.
4. Delon Wright Sr. G Utah
Wright is a crafty offensive player with elite defensive skills that is the rare player that has first round capabilities, but stays in school for all four years. Wright is a unique player that actually scores better near the basket as a point guard and can score with the best of them, but also distribute the ball and make his teammates better. His lack of an effective jump shot and the fact that he is coming out at age 22 will probably keep him out of the lottery, but I don't think he falls out of the first round.
5. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson So. SF Arizona
Hollis-Jefferson was thought to be a lottery pick going into the season, but has seen his stock slip greatly in his sophomore year due to his limited offensive game, especially on the perimeter. I still really like Hollis-Jefferson because he is a lock-down defender and can immediately help a team on the defensive side of the ball even if his offensive limitations means he will never be a true star. I still think Hollis-Jefferson is a mid-to-late first rounder.
6. Norman Powell Sr. SG UCLA
Like Wright, Powell is a guy who played all four years, but still has first round potential. He is on the smaller side for a shooting guard at 6'4 215, but makes up for it with huge athleticism and strength. I think he will go towards the end of the first round or maybe just slip into the second round.
7. Robert Upshaw So. C Washington
Upshaw's second college dismissal is a major red flag, but it takes a lot of red flags to keep seven-footers who can lead the nation in blocked shots off of NBA rosters. Despite all of the legitimate question marks about Upshaw off-of-the-court, I still think he has a chance to sneak into the first round, maybe early-second.
8. Brandon Ashley Jr. PF Arizona
Ashley bounced back from an injury in his sophomore and returned to being one of the best, and toughest players for the Wildcats. He isn't the biggest or most-athletic guy for a forward so I think he ends up falling to the early-second. However, his toughness and overall skill set could make him a later steal in the draft.
9. Joseph Young Sr. G Oregon
Young is rightfully moving up draft boards after putting on scoring clinics in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments. He doesn't have very good size for a shooting guard at the next level, but also isn't a pure point guard, so being hard to peg will hurt him in the draft. However, his unmatched abilities as a pure scorer should without a doubt get him drafted.
10. Gary Payton II Jr. PG Oregon State
Payton II has the defensive skills that made his dad an elite NBA player and is an explosive athlete that can score at the rim. Payton's limited assists for a pure point guard and lack of outside shooting probably make him a late-first round choice at best though.
11. Tyrone Wallace Jr. G Cal
A versatile player who has played both guard spots at Cal and excelled, Wallace is a strong scorer that also excels at rebounding and defense. The fact that he is not a great shooter and is maybe a little bit of a tweener likely keeps him in the second round though.
12. Kaleb Tarczewski Jr. C Arizona
Tarczewski has limited game, but as a seven-footer, he will likely always be a guy who gets drafted whenever he decides to declare.
Other top prospects
Anthony Brown Sr. SF Stanford
Chasson Randle Sr. PG Stanford
Josh Scott Jr. PF Colorado
Xavier Johson Jr. SF Colorado
Nigel Williams-Goss So. PG Washington