Later this week, members of the Colorado men’s basketball will start returning to Boulder for the start of workouts and summer classes, which begin June 3.
Other than the addition of junior college transfer Maddox Daniels and new assistant coach Anthony Coleman, plus the loss of a guard in Deleon Brown whose academic issues kept him on the bench since late December anyway, the Buffs will be the same fully intact unit that made an encouraging late-season run that ended in the NIT quarterfinals.
This summer, the Buffs will be looking to build on that success. Meanwhile, many of their Pac-12 rivals still are unsure what exactly their rosters will look like for the 2019-20 season. With the deadline arriving Wednesday whether players can remain in the NBA draft pool or return to school, here is a team-by-team look at the early-summer outlooks for CU’s Pac-12 Conference opponents.
The biggest news out of Tucson was what didn’t happen — namely, coach Sean Miller not having to testify in the final trial from the FBI college basketball corruption probe. While Miller’s name was invoked regularly during testimony, ultimately he received another vote of confidence from Arizona’s upper management and, barring sudden revelations from an ongoing NCAA investigation, he will welcome one of the top recruiting classes in the nation to Arizona in the fall.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Luguentz Dort, the Pac-12’s Freshman of the Year this past season, has opted to remain in the NBA draft pool, which will be a key loss but hardly an unexpected one for head coach Bobby Hurley. ASU’s depth took a hit on the transfer market, with backup big man Uros Plavsic leaving ASU to join former CU assistant Kim English under head coach Rick Barnes Tennessee. Vitaly Shibel also left ASU to join UNLV as a grad transfer. Hurley has another solid recruiting class on the way led by junior college All-American Alonzo Verge.
Cal Golden Bears
New coach Mark Fox immediately had to deal with a mass exodus of basketball players from Berkeley. Leading scorer Justice Sueing landed at Ohio State. Guard Darius McNeill now is at SMU, while 7-foot-3 Connor Vanover, who turned heads with an impressive end to the season, is headed to Arkansas. Fox has added replacements in recent weeks, signing Sudanese native Kuany Kuany, a 6-foot-9 forward, out of nearby Napa as well as Dimitrios Klonaras, a 6-foot-5 guard from Greece.
Louis King and Kenny Wooten have opted to remain in the NBA draft pool, leaving coach Dana Altman looking at a busy summer just to fill out the Ducks’ 2019-20 roster after reaching the Sweet 16 just two months ago. In addition to King, Wooten, and Bol Bol, who is a likely first-round pick in next month’s NBA draft despite a foot injury that made his Ducks career a brief one, backups Victor Bailey and Niles Morris have entered the NCAA transfer portal. Point guard Payton Pritchard also has been testing the NBA draft waters, but he is expected to return to Eugene.
Oregon State Beavers
Beavers fans were granted a happy Memorial Day weekend on Friday when Tres Tinkle announced he will return to OSU for his senior season after exploring his NBA options. One of the top all-around players in the Pac-12, Tinkle gives OSU a bona fide star, but head coach Wayne Tinkle (Tres’ father) still is awaiting the decision of Ethan Thompson, a sophomore guard last season who also is exploring pro options. In the meantime, the elder Tinkle recently signed 6-foot-10 Shengzhe Li, who originally was committed to BYU before reopening his recruiting after former BYU coach Dave Rose retired.
KZ Okpala is headed to the NBA draft, yet beyond that matters have been quiet this offseason for coach Jerod Haase, who may start hearing from impatient fans while going into his fourth season at Stanford with a 48-49 mark. Stanford may need to lean heavily on an incoming freshman class that includes James Keefe, the son of one-time Cardinal All-American Adam Keefe and the former Kristin Klein, who was an All-American volleyball player at Stanford.
New coach Mike Cronin still has roster spots to fill, but he completed his coaching staff this past week with the addition of former Nebraska assistant Michael Lewis. Lewis spent three years with the Cornhuskers and previously spent five years at Butler. With Jaylen Hands, Moses Brown, and Kris Wilkes all expected to remain in the NBA draft pool, the Bruins still are working on the program’s reset button following the midseason firing of former coach Steve Alford. The Bruins reportedly are in the mix for Boogie Ellis, a four-star guard out of the San Diego area who was released from his commitment to Duke earlier this spring.
Like Sean Miller at Arizona, the FBI corruption scandal has done little to slow coach Andy Enfield’s momentum on the recruiting trail, with the Trojans set to welcome the nation’s No. 6-ranked recruiting class, according to 247Sports.com. In late April USC added one-time CU Buffs target Ethan Anderson, an L.A. native who previously had signed with UNLV before decommitting in the wake of the Rebels’ coaching change. The Trojans also have added graduate transfers Quinton Adlesh (Columbia) and Daniel Utomi (Akron) in addition to Noah Baumann, who will have to sit out a year after moving on from former CU assistant Jean Prioleau’s program at San Jose State.
Coach Larry Krystkowiak always seems to find a way to reload, but that might be more challenging than usual this summer. Donnie Tillman, the Pac-12’s Sixth Man of the Year, still is considering his NBA options, while 7-footer Jayce Johnson opted to move to Marquette as a grad transfer. In the past month, Krystkowiak added 6-foot-6 guard Brendan Wenzel out of Texas and junior college transfer Alfonso Plummer to a roster that will feature at least seven newcomers next season.
The Huskies lost several key contributors to their Pac-12 regular-season championship team, and still might lose another if reigning league Player of the Year Jaylen Nowell remains in the draft pool. Nevertheless, coach Mike Hopkins is bringing in one of the nation’s top recruiting classes with a pair of five-star recruits in Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, who committed to UW last week. If Nowell returns, the Huskies will be the clear preseason favorite in the Pac-12.
Washington State Cougars
CJ Elleby, who averaged 14.7 points and 7.1 rebounds last season as a freshman, still is mulling a possible future as a pro. Elleby isn’t listed on any viable mock drafts, and his return to WSU would be a huge boost to new coach Kyle Smith. Smith already has added Colorado State grad transfer Deion James in addition to an international recruiting class that includes Australian Ryan Rapp, Ukrainian Volodymyr Markovetskyy, and DJ Rodman. The latter recruit might be the most intriguing in the league, if only to picture his father, Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, hitting the town in Pullman.