Oumar Ballo, Arizona Wildcats, Pac-12 basketball

CBB Review provides its last-ever Pac-12 preview, looking ahead to the 2023-24 season.


Pac-12 basketball projected standings

1. Arizona Wildcats

Tommy Lloyd has been unbeatable in the regular season at Arizona, compiling a 61-11 Pac-12 record with two conference championships. The question remains when they can finally translate that to the NCAA Tournament.

This year features an experiment in North Carolina transfer Caleb Love. A high-volume, yet low-efficiency guy in Chapel Hill, Love can be a weapon, as long as he plays within himself and the system. Otherwise, look for another big season from Oumar Ballo, as well as breakout years from Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

2. USC Trojans

The big storyline surrounding the Trojans from a national perspective is the presence of Bronny James. However, regardless of whether he is healthy enough to play, and how much he ends up playing, USC is loaded with talent.

Their backcourt of number two overall recruit Isaiah Collier and Boogie Ellis is among the best in the nation. To complement that, the Trojans feature another legacy in DJ Rodman on the wing. The only setback is expected to be the center spot, which was shaky last year as well. We have to imagine that rebounding will be a major factor in determining frontcourt playing time, as USC has struggled to clear the boards.

3. Colorado Buffaloes

This could be the year that Colorado finally breaks through. Leading scorers K.J. Simpson and Tristan da Silva, who combined for over 30 points per game, return. The Buffaloes also bring in top five recruit, Cody Williams, who will immediately boost the team in the athleticism department. If all goes well, 2023-24 has the potential to be Tad Boyle’s most successful season in Boulder.

4. UCLA Bruins

Although it feels weird picking the Bruins outside of the conference’s top three, this roster is significantly less exciting than what Mick Cronin usually has to offer. Outside of Utah transfer, Lazar Stefanovich, who is not a prototypical alpha scorer, there is not too much proven talent. UCLA will be banking on their young front court of Adem Bona and Aday Mara to step up to the task quickly.

5. Oregon Ducks

Nothing about this Ducks team stands out as spectacular but they are deep and well-rounded. They bring back experienced seniors such as Jermaine Couisnard and N’Faly Dante and some role player transfers, while three top 30 freshmen enter the program. Plus, as usual, you can count on this team having size and converting the offensive boards.

6. Washington Huskies

The upside is there with Washington more so than has been the case in a long time. This team is deep and has a plethora of talent transferring in. If Kentucky transfer, Sahvir Wheeler can keep opposing defenses honest, they will have their hands full with Keion Brooks and company.

7. Stanford Cardinal

Although Stanford has not been a winning program in recent years, Jared Haase has amassed an interesting group of talent. The wing features top-20 recruit Andrej Stojakovic and one of the lone bright spots of last year, Spencer Jones. The question is whether they could get stops consistently, which has been a major problem for Haase teams.

8. Arizona State Sun Devils

Outside of Frankie Collins, Arizona State does not offer much when it comes to returning offensive weapons. Transfers Adam Miller and Zane Meeks should provide confidence but it is hard to see the Sun Devils as a strong offensive unit by any means. Bobby Hurley does usually figure out how to make it work on the defensive end though, and this year should be no different.

9. Utah Utes

Once again, expect Utah to be a defensive-minded team. Braden Carlson has provided much of the offensive output in the post, coming off of a 16.3 PPG season. Although this team has experience, there is not an abundance of proven production elsewhere.

10. Cal Golden Bears

After an atrocious season in 2022-23, it is fair to say that the Golden Bears take a step forward under Mark Madsen. The roster is full of outside shooting threats, including Northern Arizona transfer Jalen Cone. Texas Tech transfer Fardaws Aimaq will act as a safety net of someone who is proven at the power conference level. It is hard to pick Cal much higher given their recent past but do not sleep on this team.

11. Washington State Cougars

Last year, Washington State would live and die by the three ball and that had its clear limitations. After losing their main snipers, Justin Powell and DJ Rodman, it is difficult to see the Cougars’ identity going into this season. They shot just 46.3% from inside the arc, good for 321st nationally.

12. Oregon State Beavers

Oregon State is coming off of an 11-win season and unlike Cal, they did not do much to improve the roster. Jordan Pope does return after a stellar freshman season, and he will once again be asked to carry the load for the Beavers.

CBB Review Preseason Pac-12 Basketball Player of the Year

Oumar Ballo, Arizona

After the departure of Azuolas Tubelis, Ballo will be able to fully go to work in the Wildcats front court. He is a major threat in the low post and has the ability to roll and cut to the basket in Arizona’s highly-spaced offense. Ballo is coming off of a 14.2 points/8.6 rebounds season and those numbers will only improve with higher usage.

CBB Review Preseason Pac-12 Basketball Coach of the Year

Tad Boyle, Colorado

Colorado is a high-upside pick in this conference, with three legitimate scoring threats. If they make any sort of noise, it will catch many off guard, considering their mediocrity in the recent past. A dark horse pick could be Cal’s Mark Madsen, but he would still have to exceed our expectations significantly.

CBB Review Preseason Pac-12 Basketball Transfer of the Year

Caleb Love, Arizona

Yes, this is certainly a bold pick. However, compared to the other transfers in this conference, Love clearly stands out. He is coming off two consecutive seasons of over 15 points per game and has the ability to take over on any given night. Again, it is a matter of whether he can play within himself and the Arizona system.

CBB Review Preseason Pac-12 Basketball First Team

  • G: Isaiah Collier, USC
  • G: Boogie Ellis, USC
  • F: Tristan da Silva, Colorado
  • F: Keion Brooks, Washington
  • C: Oumar Ballo, Arizona

CBB Review Preseason Pac-12 Basketball Second Team

  • G: Caleb Love, Arizona
  • G: K.J. Simpson, Colorado
  • F: Spencer Jones, Stanford
  • F: Adem Bona, UCLA
  • C: N’Faly Dante, Oregon

CBB Review Preseason Pac-12 Basketball All-Freshmen Team

  • G: Isaiah Collier, USC
  • G: Cody Williams, Colorado
  • F: Andrej Stojakovic, Stanford
  • F: Aday Mara, UCLA
  • C: Arrinten Page, USC

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