The Pac-12 basketball season technically came to a close on March 26, when Oregon’s semi-cinderella run through the NCAA tournament came to an end at the hands of a flame-throwing Buddy Hield and Oklahoma. But the conference has remained quite busy since.
Pac-12 alums were the centerpiece of the NBA Finals, where Arizona’s Andre Iguodala, Washington State’s Klay Thompson and Utah’s Andrew Bogut fell short to UCLA’s Kevin Love and Arizona’s Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson. More than that, however, the Pac-12 has been relevant in the college ranks as well. Below are the top five storylines of this off-season.
Four Pac-12 players drafted in first round
On June 23, NBA commissioner Adam Silver called the names of three players in the Pac-12 among the top 10 picks of the NBA Draft, the second-most in league history and more than any other conference this year. The Pac-12 finished with four – Jaylen Brown, Marquese Chriss, Jakob Poeltl, Dejounte Murray – taken in the first round and one other, Tyrone Wallace, in the second.
West Coast vs. The Outback
It’s Olympic season as well as the off-season, and while American pros are dropping out by the handful, either due to injuries or trepidation from the Zika virus, the Pac-12 assembled a team of all-stars to match up with Australian’s Olympic team, among others. Playing for the Pac-12 were Tra Holder (Arizona State), Kadeem Allen and Chance Comanche (Arizona), Jordan McLaughlin (Southern Cal), Stevie Thompson and Drew Eubanks (Oregon State), Lorenzo Bonham (Utah), Dorian Pickens (Stanford), Matisse Thybulle (Washington), Stephen Domingo (California), Wesley Gordon (Colorado), and Josh Hawkinson (Washington State).
Six players transfer out of Utah
Transferring was a popular option for Pac-12 players, though no team suffered more than Utah, which lost six players to transferring. On July 7, CBS reported that Kenneth Ogbe would be transferring out, marking the sixth scholarship player to do so since the close of the 2015-16 season. Ogbe’s transfer shouldn’t be too detrimental, as he only played 22 games in the past two seasons, both of which were marred by injuries. Losing five others, Brandon Miller (Dixie State), Chris Reyes (Pepperdine), Isaiah Wright (San Diego), Makol Mawien (New Mexico Junior College) and Brekkott Chapman (Weber State), however, will not exactly be an easy fix, simply by sheer volume.
UCLA recruiting itself into relevancy
Steve Alford’s job may never have been in legitimate jeopardy, but it was certainly being called for on campus in Westwood. While his overall record is a winning one, the Bruins have been subpar at best when it comes to the post-season. He needed a boost, and he found exactly that in his 2016 recruiting class, which has been consistently ranked in the top five in the country. Lonzo Ball and Ike Anigbogu, two top-50 recruits, have both signed on with the Bruins, while T.J. Leaf, the No. 18 prospect in the nation, has offered his verbal commitment. Kobe Paras was also expected to play for UCLA, though due to academic reasons has since reneged. Regardless, it should serve as a pick-me-up for Alford and his job security.
Welcome to Los Angeles, Derryck Thornton
While UCLA was receiving a boost from recruiting future players, USC coach Andy Enfield sought one from current players, taking in former Duke point guard Derryck Thornton off the transfer wire. Thornton will have to sit out the 2016-17 season, per NCAA transfer rules, though he’ll have three more seasons of eligibility remaining to contribute to the Trojans.