Pac-12 sure could use some of its 50 NBA players right now

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The Pac-12 is hurtin’.

It’s seventh in kenpom.com standings, ninth in the RPI, hasn’t beaten any Top 25 teams and has racked up so many bad losses, Rob had trouble recounting them all last week.

UCLA is in freefall, Arizona and Washington are enduring growing pains, and Cal and Stanford have fattened up on soft schedules. Don’t ask about everyone else.

Guess all the good players went to the NBA.

As Dan Hanner notes over at RealGM.com, only the ACC placed more players on NBA opening day rosters. Fifty former Pac-12 players – including Derrick Williams – dot the pro ranks, two more than last season. That’s more than the Big East (46),  SEC (45), Big 12 (43) and Big Ten (just 27).

And somewhat remarkably, half of those Pac-12 players come from just two schools: UCLA and Arizona.

The Bruins have regularly sent guys to the NBA for the last decade. Scouts apparently love their solid fundamentals and defensive ability. Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt became the two most recent. (What that says about how much Ben Howland gets out of all that pro talent is another post.)

Arizona’s still coasting off Lute Olson’s heyday, though Williams represents the start of what should be plenty more Wildcats in the NBA.

At some point the league’s performance will have to reflect the amount of conference talent, right? Drew Cannon noted this summer that the Pac-12’s “footprint” was better than observers thought and the conference was recruiting just fine (though not as the ACC).

Guessing it’ll help when the conference’s coaches settle in, too. Nine of them have been running their programs four years or less. Johnny Dawkins (Stanford), Mike Montgomery (Cal) and Sean Miller (Arizona) all seem to have their teams on the upswing. Dana Altman (Oregon) and Craig Robinson (Oregon State) are close.

Good thing, too. The Pac-12 could use some better results.

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Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.

Memphis guard could miss season with shoulder injury

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Memphis just cannot catch a break.


It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.

Today, CBSSports.com reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.

Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.

This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.

That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.