Oregon tabbed the favorite and UCLA was second in Pac-12 preseason media poll. WSU picked last for the fourth straight year.
Whether Mike Hopkins leads the Washington men’s basketball team to its first Pac-12 title since 2009 remains to be seen, but the second-year coach has guided the Huskies back to prominence sooner than imagined.
Expectations at UW, which was picked third in a Pac-12 preseason media poll, are the highest since the 2010-11 season when the Huskies were tabbed preseason favorites.
Meanwhile, Oregon occupied the top spot in this year’s preseason poll ahead of UCLA, UW and fourth-place Arizona, which all received first-place votes.
For the fourth straight year, Washington State was projected to finish in last place in the annual poll.
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USC was voted fifth followed by Arizona State, Colorado and Utah. Stanford came in at No. 9 while Oregon State was 10th and California 11th.
It’s been a quick turnaround for Hopkins and the Huskies, who were picked last in the conference’s preseason poll a year ago.
The reason for the optimism on Montlake stems from the return of a trio of all-conference performers, five starters and seven of the top nine scorers from a veteran-laden team that compiled a 21-13 record and finished in a two-way tie for sixth in the Pac-12 at 10-8 last season.
The Huskies, who have the most returning production of any major conference program in the country, are led by all-Pac-12 forward Noah Dickerson, the league’s defensive player of the year Matisse Thybulle and Jaylen Nowell, who was chosen to the conference’s all-freshman team.
By comparison Oregon is relatively young and powered by two returning starters, including second-team all-Pac-12 point guard Payton Pritchard and wing Paul White, as well as the league’s top shot blocker Kenny Wooten. The Ducks boast a nationally ranked top-5 recruiting class led by 7-2 center Bol Bol, the son of former NBA player Manute Bol, and 6-9 forward Louis King, a five-star prospect.
UCLA also brought in a highly touted recruiting class ranked among the top 10 nationally, but the Bruins are reeling since freshmen forward Shareef O’Neal (heart surgery) and Tyger Campbell (torn left ACL) suffered season-ending injuries. There’s still enough talent in Westwood for an NCAA tournament Final Four run with the likes of sophomore guard Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes along with 7-1 freshman center Moses Brown, a former McDonald’s All-American.
Defending champion Arizona looks to rebuild a 27-win team that lost all five starters. Coach Sean Miller enters his 10th season with the lowest expectations since he arrived in Tucson, Ariz., in 2009 and is essentially starting over with a new staff and six newcomers, led by Duke transfer Chase Jeter.
2018-19 PAC-12 MEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
TEAM (first-place votes) – POINTS
1. Oregon (16) – 288 points
2. UCLA (6) – 264
3. Washington (2) – 249
4. Arizona (1) – 205
5. USC – 203
6. Arizona State – 165
7. Colorado – 161
8. Utah – 122
9. Stanford – 109
10. Oregon State – 102
11. California – 45
12. Washington State – 37
Here’s a look at where Washington has been picked in the Pac-12 preseason media poll and how Huskies have fared since the 2002-03 season.
2018-19 Pac-12 men’s basketball preseason media poll
(First-place votes in parenthesis)
Year …. Prediction …. Finish
2017-18 … 10th … t-sixth
2016-17 … 6th … 11th
2015-16 … 11th … t-sixth
2014-15 …. sixth … 11th
2013-14 … eighth … t-eighth
2012-13 … fifth … t-sixth
2011-12 … fourth ……. first
2010-11 … first ………. third
2009-10 … second …. third
2008-09 … fifth ……… first
2007-08 … second … eighth
2006-07 … third ……. seventh
2005-06 … fourth ….. second
2004-05 … second … second
2003-04 … eighth …. second
2002-03 … eighth …. ninth