After a disappointing 16-16 season, the Stanford men’s basketball team looks to contend at the top of the conference this year. While athletic director Benard Muir gave head coach Jerod Haase a vote of confidence after Stanford’s second round exit in the Pac-12 tournament last year, the Cardinal can’t continue to miss postseason play if the 48-year old head coach wants to keep his job.
Luckily for Haase, Stanford brings back a veteran team that could help him reach his first ever NCAA tournament as the Cardinal head coach. While Jaiden Delaire, the 2021 Pac-12 Most Improved Player, has transferred down south to University of San Diego, Stanford received a great revelation of their own this offseason.
Sophomore Harrison Ingram elected to return to school after declaring for the NBA draft shortly after the season ended. Ingram, who averaged 10 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists, was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year at the end of last season. A lot of Stanford’s offense this year will likely flow through Ingram, as his court vision and physicality allow him to initiate offense across all parts of the court.
Along with Ingram, senior forward Spencer Jones looks to take the next step to become a bonafide star. Jones, who was the Cardinal’s leading scorer last season, displayed great potential toward the end of the year, putting up 26 and 28 points in back-to-back games in the Pac-12 tournament. Jones’ skill set primarily revolves around catch-and-shoot threes, mid range pull-ups and physical touch shots around the basket. Stanford will need Jones to score more this season if they are to improve on last year’s performance.
Other than Ingram’s return, the biggest pickup for Stanford this offseason is fifth-year guard Michael Jones, who shot 42.1% from three for a Davidson team that made the NCAA tournament last season. Jones figures to be an important part of the rotation due to his efficient shooting and savvy offensive play. He will likely be the starting off guard for the Cardinal this season.
Other important returners include junior guard Michael O’Connell and junior forward Brandon Angel. O’Connell’s play stagnated a bit last season, as his field goal percentage dropped by 10% from the previous year. However, after Ingram, he will be the main person tasked with initiating the offense. Angel showed his versatility last year, as he shot 36% beyond the arc while averaging 7.7 points per game. Angel’s shooting ability will allow Stanford to space the court better, and provide lanes for attacking the basket.
Backing up O’Connell will be sophomore guard Isa Silva. Silva is a crafty finisher around the rim and has shown great willingness to get his teammates involved. Silva was a top-60 prospect coming out of high school, and if he begins to grow into his own, he could potentially leap over O’Connell in the lineup.
Another forward who figures into the rotation is 6-foot-9 junior Max Murrell, who’s shown the ability to be a swiss army knife all over the court. Murrell can stretch the court, guard multiple positions and attack off the bounce. Yet his averages didn’t dramatically change from his freshman season, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll make the jump required to play significant minutes.
At the center position, 7-foot-1 sophomore Maxime Raynaud will likely fill the starting role. Raynaud showed the potential to stretch the floor, while also using his length to get rebounds. His minutes fluctuated throughout last season, but it seems the French big man will have more consistent playing time this season. Backing up Raynaud is senior center James Keefe, who began to play better towards the end of last season. Keefe recorded a double-double against Arizona State in the Pac-12 tournament.
Sophomore guard Jarvis Moss will provide depth at shooting guard, and was one of the best shooters coming out of his class in high school. Moss did not receive much playing time last season, and it remains unclear what his role will be this year. Similar to Moss, redshirt junior Neal Begovich played sparingly last year, and doesn’t figure to be a larger part of the rotation this season.
With a veteran team coming back, freshmen Ryan Agarwal, Jaylen Thompson and Benny Gealer may not see a lot of playing time come conference play. However, each brings an elite skill set that could land them on the court earlier than expected. Agarwal is an elite shooter in catch-and-shoot situations and off of screens. Thompson provides length and athleticism on the perimeter. Meanwhile, Gealer has the poise and pace to execute the pick-and-roll effectively.
G Michael O’ Connell
G Michael Jones
F Spencer Jones
F Harrison Ingram
C Maxime Raynaud
Prediction: 21-11 (11-7 Pac-12), NCAA tournament bid
There’s a deep bifurcation between the top and bottom of the conference. Stanford stands squarely in the middle of this divide, and can feast on the bottom. While the Cardinal will likely struggle against teams like UCLA, Oregon, Arizona and USC, they may swipe a couple of games away from the top of the conference to put themselves on the right side of the bubble.