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Offseason Update: Men’s basketball in the Pac-12, Part 2

The Daily’s Teddy Solomon provides insights into the Pac-12 offseason

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We’re in the heart of the college basketball offseason, and that means teams are finishing up their rosters and players are making their final commitments. Yesterday, I discussed what the offseason has been like for the first half of the Pac-12 (alphabetically), and today, we’re going to discuss the back half.

Stanford

The Cardinal have had an eventful offseason for a team that brought in zero transfers. 

First, star senior forward Oscar da Silva announced he would be playing professional basketball rather than returning for his final year of eligibility. Guard Daejon Davis decided to transfer to Washington — a decision that shocked absolutely no one. Later in the spring, Bryce Wills declared for the NBA draft, following the earlier decision by highly-touted freshman forward Ziaire Williams to test the professional waters. 

Stanford is fortunate to sport the No. 21 recruiting class in the country, with 7-footer Maxime Raynaud being the significant offseason addition. Raynaud will join five-star Harrison Ingram, four-star Isa Silva and three-star Jarvis Moss in the star-studded freshman class. 

Another major addition in the offseason was that of assistant coach Rob Ehsan, who is joining the Cardinal after serving as the head coach of University of Alabama at Birmingham for four years.

UCLA

UCLA brings back an incredible amount of talent, but the story of its offseason was beating out Stanford for Rutgers transfer Myles Johnson. The 6-foot-11 center has proved to be elite in the Big 10, averaging an astounding 8.5 rebounds per game in his redshirt junior season. Johnson will likely come off the bench, but his strength and athleticism will help him secure an active role in this Bruins lineup.

In terms of recruitment, UCLA is bringing in two players who committed long before the offseason. Most importantly, five-star small forward Peyton Watson will be an active contributor from day one, and he will likely declare for the draft after just one year.

There’s still more to watch in the offseason, as star guard Johnny Juzang decides whether to stay in the NBA Draft or return to UCLA for one more season.

So, like Oregon State, UCLA had a somewhat quiet offseason despite making waves in March. Unlike Oregon State, the Bruins didn’t need anything more.

USC

First and foremost, freshman phenom Evan Mobley declared for the NBA draft. Shocker. Somewhat surprisingly, however, is that his brother, Isaiah Mobley, is also testing the draft waters. I would be shocked if the elder Mobley brother were to be drafted, and I fully expect that he will return to USC.

The Trojans secured a key transfer in Boogie Ellis, who averaged double figures in his sophomore season at Memphis. Ellis scored 23 points in the 2021 NIT Championship game and 27 in the American Conference semifinals against eventual-Final-Four team Houston. After the addition of guard Tahj Eaddy proved to be consequential for the Trojans last season, another guard transfer couldn’t hurt.

On the recruitment side of things, nothing has changed this offseason. USC sports the 37th best recruiting class in the country, including one four-star and two three-stars.

You’re starting to see a theme—the teams who had the most success and got the most attention last season have had the least exciting offseasons.

Utah

Offseasons don’t get more interesting than what Utah has undergone, so let’s get right into it.

The offseason turbulence started in March with the firing of head coach Larry Krystkowiak. What followed was an onslaught of players transferring out. Among those who left were All-Pac-12 First Team member Timmy Allen, second-leading scorer Alfonso Plummer and freshman standout Pelle Larsson. Utah effectively lost its team.

The new Utah head coach, Craig Smith, has been busy in the offseason rebuilding this team. For one, he pulled off what I would argue is the most fascinating piece of news coming out of the conference all offseason thus far; 6-foot-6 guard Both Gach, who spent his first two years at Utah before transferring to Minnesota for a season, has returned to Salt Lake City. Gach was a solid contributor during his time with the Utes, averaging double figures in his sophomore season, and this bizarre move will be a much-needed addition for Smith and staff.

Gach will be joined by a group of talented transfers. Mark Anthony and Rollie Worster are transferring from Utah State, where Smith most recently coached, and they are probable starters in the backcourt. 6-foot-10 forward Dusan Mahorcic comes from Illinois State where he averaged 9.9 points and 6 rebounds per game. Guard David Jenkins is the last notable transfer. Interestingly enough, his best game at UNLV came in a 33-point performance against Smith and Utah State. 

The Utes’ recruiting class is virtually nonexistent, but that’s immaterial. This is a new Utah team, and it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

Washington

For a good portion of last season, Washington looked like one of the worst power-five teams in the country. So, to say a good offseason was a necessity for the Huskies would be an understatement.

Stanford fans are quite aware of Washington’s biggest addition of the offseason, guard Daejon Davis. The Seattle native is returning to his hometown and will get the chance to play against his former team. Fans will watch to see if Davis’ time at Washington plays out similarly to how it did at Stanford, with two suspensions in his senior season and minimal playing time as his Stanford career came to a close.

Another transfer who is returning home is guard Terrell Brown, who was a star at Seattle University before averaging 7.3 points per contest at Arizona. 

The Huskies also made an interesting addition in junior college big man Langston Wilson. Standing at 6-foot-9, Wilson was the No. 2 junior college player in the country last season, and he is likely to start in his first season of Division 1 ball. 

The final two transfers are Emmitt Matthews and PJ Fuller, coming from West Virginia and TCU respectively. Both have experience playing against high-major teams, and both will see significant playing time this season. 

The additions did not come without losses, as six players transferred out of Washington this offseason. Two players included in this group are guards Marcus Tsohonis and Erik Stevenson — the second and fourth leading scorers, respectively, from last season. Washington is another team that will look completely new.

Washington State

Finally, we get to talk about Washington State. Head coach Kyle Smith works wonders year-round for whatever team he coaches, and this offseason was of course no exception.

Guard Michael Flowers will be joining the Cougars after a wildly-successful undergraduate collegiate career at Western Michigan and South Alabama. Averaging 21 points per game in his senior season, Flowers was the top scorer left in the transfer portal at the time of his commitment. 

Guard Kim Aiken Jr. is the other significant transfer Washington State has added. Aiken averaged nearly a double-double in his sophomore and junior seasons, and will likely be a threat off the bench. 

Smith and staff were also able to sign four-star recruit Mouhamed Gueye this offseason, adding yet another piece to an already developing lineup.

One question remains for Washington State this offseason: will star guard Isaac Bonton return? His decision should be made shortly.

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Teddy Solomon is a staff writer in the sports section and a host of the Stanford Daily Men's Basketball Podcast. He is a freshman from San Francisco who is planning on majoring in Economics and considering a minor in Mathematical and Computational Science. Teddy is a competitive table tennis player, an avid investor, and a lifelong college basketball fanatic. Contact him at tsolomon 'at' stanforddaily.com.