SAN FRANCISCO — The Colorado men’s basketball team was picked sixth in the Pac-12 Conference preseason media poll released on Wednesday morning to kick off the league’s media day.
There perhaps was some uncertainty regarding the Buffaloes among the league’s voters, as CU boasts just two seniors in Evan Battey and Elijah Parquet alongside a cast of youngsters that is talented but untested.
The Buffs have a history of bucking the trend from where they are selected in the preseason poll. Last year, CU was picked seventh but finished third and reached the title game of the Pac-12 tournament. Conversely, in 2019 the Buffs were picked second and were just three points in the vote shy of landing the top spot, but they ultimately finished sixth and lost in the first round of the 2020 Pac-12 tournament just before it was canceled at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
UCLA was a near-unanimous choice for the top spot, landing 32 of 34 first-place votes to outpace No. 2 Oregon 404-373 in vote points. USC was third with 320 points.
After that, it was a jumbled pack, with just 24 points separating the two teams that tied for fourth — Arizona and Oregon State, with 245 points — and eighth-place Washington State (221 points). The Buffs finished with 235 points.
Additionally, Battey landed a spot on the 10-player first team of the preseason all-conference squad after being an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection following the 2020-21 season. Sophomore forward Jabari Walker was an honorable mention preseason all-conference selection.
Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball preseason poll
(First place votes in parenthesis)
1. UCLA (32) 404
2. Oregon (2) 373
3. USC 320
T-4. Arizona (245)
T-4. Oregon State (245)
6. Colorado (235)
7. Arizona State (224)
8. Washington State (221)
9. Stanford (151)
10. Utah (105)
11. Washington (85)
12. Cal (44)
First team preseason All-Pac-12
Warith Alatishe, Sr., F, Oregon State
Marcus Bagley, So., F, Arizona State
Evan Battey, Sr., F, Colorado
Tyger Campbell, Jr., G, UCLA
Jaime Jaquez Jr., Jr., G/F, UCLA
Johnny Juzang, Jr., G, UCLA
Bennedict Mathurin, So., G, Arizona
Isaiah Mobley, Jr., F, USC
Will Richardson, Sr., G, Oregon
Noah Williams, Jr., G, Washington State
Second team preseason All-Pac-12
Boogie Ellis, Jr., G, USC
Quincy Guerrier, Jr., F, Oregon
De’Vion Harmon, Jr., G, Oregon
Jarod Lucas, Jr., G, Oregon State
Azuolas Tubelis, So., F, Arizona
Honorable mention (at least eight votes): Efe Abogidi, So., Washington State; Daejon Davis, Gr., Washington; Jaiden Delaire, Sr., Stanford; Harrison Ingram, Fr., Stanford; Jabari Walker, So., Colorado; Peyton Watson, Fr., UCLA.
One significant change to the Pac-12 men’s basketball television schedule is the announcement the league tournament championship game on March 12 will air live on FOX at 7 p.m. MT. That puts the league’s biggest non-NCAA Tournament game in a Saturday night prime-time slot on the east coast. The Pac-12 championship game in recent seasons has aired on ESPN on a late-night slot. For instance, CU’s loss against Oregon State in the 2021 title game began at 8:30 p.m. MT and didn’t finish until after midnight on the east coast.
“That’s a great platform for us for our key game, our championship game in Las Vegas to be in prime time on the east coast on a major broadcast network,” Pac-12 lead men’s basketball administrator Jamie Zaninovich said. “We’re very excited about that opportunity.”
Joining head coach Tad Boyle and Battey at the Pac-12’s media day on Wednesday was Parquet.
While Battey appeared at the event three years ago, Parquet is a player who toiled in the background in recent seasons behind players like McKinley Wright IV. Now a senior, the typically quiet, lead-by-example Parquet is adjusting to a bigger spotlight after earning a spot on the Pac-12 All-Defense team last season.
“I got a chance to meet new people, some new faces,” Parquet said. “I got to represent Colorado and do a lot of interviews. I don’t do a lot of interviews, so it was a good experience. I’m trying to watch how I say things, how I come across. But I’ve worked on it as the years have gone on.”