December 2, 2008

Stars don't fall to Pac-10 in 2009

Conference breakdown | No. 1 Big 12 | No. 2 ACC | No. 3 Big East | No. 4 Big Ten | No. 5 SEC

Over the last four years, the Pac-10 was the place for players to spend a year's time before bolting for the NBA.

Not in 2009. Washington landed the only five-star player, Abdul Gaddy, who signed with a Pac-10 school in the early period. There were only two other players ranked in the top 50 to join the conference in UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt and USC's Noel Johnson.

The days of Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless are gone at least for a year.

Despite the lack of star power, UCLA filled its needs and loaded up on size. The Bruins, thanks to the addition of Honeycutt and four players who all can play minutes in the paint, check in at No. 8 nationally in the team rankings. Rivals150 forwards Reeves Nelson, Mike Moser, Brendan Lane and Anthony Stover round out the class.

Biggest recruiting coup

Washington has always done a tremendous job locking up the homegrown talent. This year was no different. Coach Lorenzo Romar was able to win over Gaddy after his on-again, off-again commitment to Arizona.

Best of the Pac-10
Best perimeter scorer: Noel Johnson, USC
Best low post scorer: Markhuri Sanders-Frison, Cal
Best passer: Abdul Gaddy, Washington
Best shooter: C.J. Wilcox, Washington
Best rebounder: Reeves Nelson, UCLA
Best shot blocker: Anthony Stover, UCLA
Best defender: Anthony Brown, Washington State
Most versatile: Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA
Best in the clutch: Abdul Gaddy, Washington
Best basketball IQ: Abdul Gaddy, Washington
Best pro prospect: Abdul Gaddy, Washington
Best speed: Abdul Gaddy, Washington
Best motor: Reeves Nelson, UCLA
Best strength: Demetrius Walker, Arizona State
Best leaper: Clarence Trent, Washington
Best leader: Abdul Gaddy, Washington
Impact player: Abdul Gaddy, Washington
Biggest sleeper: Markhuri Sanders-Frison, Cal
Sleeper class: Arizona State
Romar has an elite-level floor general in Gaddy and a player who has proven himself as a great unifier of talent - as well as a go-to player down the stretch. Gaddy's impact should be felt immediately.

Landing Gaddy has also proven Washington's recruiting strength in the Seattle-Tacoma area, which has been one of the best in the nation for elite-level talent over the years.

Dating back to 2005, Romar has locked up a top local player every season. Tacoma guard Isaiah Thomas signed in 2008. Seattle guard Venoy Overton inked in 2007. Local star Spencer Hawes signed in 2006. Big man Jon Brockman signed in 2005 and Martell Webster committed but opted to go pro instead of college. ranks Kentwood (Wash.) center Josh Smith as the top player in 2010 nationally and Anthony Wroten Jr. as the No. 2 player nationally in 2011. Washington is involved with both players.

Budding rivalry

UCLA and USC share the same city. Both schools are pumping out pros. Both schools have a national appeal to top recruits. Both schools also have two of the best players coming into the conference next year.

UCLA will lean on the size and versatility of Tyler Honeycutt, one of the most intriguing players in the nation, right out of the gates. The 6-foot-7 Honeycutt can score on the wing and at the rim.

USC went to Atlanta to snag four-star prospect Noel Johnson. Like Honeycutt, Johnson is a big wing with a quick trigger on the perimeter.

Pac-10: Inside the Numbers
2 Teams ranked in the top 25
14 Rivals150 prospects coming to the Pac-10
1 5-star prospect coming to the Pac-10
6 4-star prospects coming to the Pac-10
7 3-star prospects coming to the Pac-10
12 Non-ranked player coming to the Pac-10
12 Players from California coming to the Pac-10, the most of any state
Both players can put up big numbers on any given night, and they make up the most natural budding rivalry of any two players entering the Pac-10 next year.

Biggest miss

For the second consecutive year, Arizona is the unfortunate biggest loser.

Coach Lute Olson's decision to retire at the start of the season due to health complications had a ripple effect on Arizona's strong recruiting class.

The Wildcats lost Abdul Gaddy, the second-best point guard in the nation. Gaddy committed to the program, decommitted, recommitted and decommitted again during the rocky coaching situation in Tucson. Gaddy, a Tacoma, Wash., native, signed with Washington.

Four-star wing Solomon Hill and four-star forward Mike Moser both pulled out of their commitments to the school after Olson's sudden retirement. Hill is headed to USC, while Moser signed with UCLA. Hill committed but has not signed, so he isn't included in this version of our league superlatives list.

Arizona was in a similar situation last year. Five-star guard Brandon Jennings signed with the Wildcats. But after failing to qualify and watching the rocky coaching situation, Jennings became the first high school player to leave the United States for a career in Europe rather than go to college or enter the NBA draft.

Emmanuel Negedu, a four-star forward, reopened his recruitment last year during the coaching drama and ended up at Tennessee. Center Jeff Withey made it to Tucson only to ask for a release after Olson retired.

Best storyline

Oregon State has signed just one Rivals150 prospect since 2002 - Portland (Ore.) Jesuit wing Seth Tarver was ranked No. 102 in 2006.

In 2009, the Beavers have doubled that number. Roberto Nelson, the No. 72-ranked player in the nation, and Joe Burton, the No. 120-ranked player in the country, both signed early with the Beavers and will come to Corvallis with high expectations.

Nelson and Burton teamed together on the Compton Magic team that lost to Grassroots Canada in double overtime in the championship game of the adidas Super 64 tournament in Las Vegas this summer.

Both prospects said Craig Robinson's presence at the helm played a huge factor in their decision to leave Southern California for Corvallis. Robinson, the older brother of future first lady Michelle Obama, has taken advantage of his public image and has won two big recruiting battles.

Landing Rivals150 prospects is something new to Oregon State basketball, but it may not be an oddity anymore at least not with Robinson in town.

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