The last word on Pac-12 basketball in 2018-19 came from NBA general managers, who weren’t exact complimentary.
- No lottery picks on Thursday night from a conference that produced three of the top seven selections just two years ago.
- Only two first-round picks, the lowest total since 2010.
- Six overall picks.
- More players selected from Gonzaga (two) than UCLA and Arizona combined (one).
- Bol Bol’s free fall into the middle of the second round.
The focus here, however, is on six players whose names weren’t called:
Arizona State guard Luguentz Dort, Arizona guard Brandon Williams, Oregon forwards Louis King and Kenny Wooten, UCLA wing Kris Wilkes and center Moses Brown.
That’s a potential preseason all-conference team (plus one) for 2019-20 — a collection that would substantially boost the overall talent level next season and hasten a recovery … that would help the conference win the November and December duels required for access to the NCAA tournament.
Alas, they went oh-for-six Thursday night and cannot return to school. (Despite the NCAA changing its stance on undrafted players regaining eligibility, the new rule hasn’t gone into effect.)
In some cases, the culprit is an inflated sense of self-worth. In some cases, it’s bad advice. In some, bad luck.
All in all, the mass rejection is an unfortunate but fitting conclusion to an awful two-year stretch for Pac-12 basketball.
From September ’17, when the FBI made its arrests, to June ’19, when NBA offered judgment, the conference has been steamrollered by bad news, bad decisions and bad play.
The trajectory cannot continue indefinitely, but will change come swiftly or slowly?
Answers could come this summer, when the NCAA is expected to distribute the first wave of allegations against programs involved in the FBI scandal.
Arizona and USC will have two of the most-talented rosters in the conference next season.
They’re also prime targets for NCAA sanctions.
There’s a chance, it seems, that things could get worse before they get better.