Player of the Week
Azuolas Tubelis (Arizona)
The 2021-2022 winners of the Pac-12 have come into this college basketball season looking to repeat their dominance and claim another Pac-12 title. So far, Arizona has won their first three matchups by 15+ points and has had players step up from all around the court. The biggest so far has been Azuolas Tubelis, the junior big man who returned after a great year in 2021. Through three games, Tubelis has averaged 20 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 4 assists all while shooting incredibly from the field. His best game thus far came during the Wildcats debut against the Nicholls State Colonels, where he had 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Don’t be surprised to see stat lines like this all season from the returning big man.
KJ Simpson (Colorado)
Though Colorado has only started off 3-2, they have some notable wins under their belt through the first five games of the college basketball season. Beating teams like Tennessee and Texas A&M show the potential this squad has and it’s being fueled by a sophomore named KJ Simpson. Simpson is currently the second leading scorer in the Pac-12 (19 ppg) and has come up huge in games against ranked opponents. In the win against Tennessee, Simpson had 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds in a Colorado 12-point win. He had his best game of the season against the Texas A&M Aggies, scoring 30 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. It’s safe to say that Simpson will be a problem for opposing defenses for the remainder of the season.
Kerr Kriisa (Arizona)
Along with Azuolas Tubelis, Kerr Kriisa has played a huge part in the Wildcats resurgence as the best team in the Pac-12. So far, Kriisa has averaged just about 16 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 8 assists, showing a wide variety of skills from the 6’3” guard. In the Wildcats second game of the season against the Southern Jaguars, Kriisa managed to achieve the elusive triple double, scoring 14 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 12 assists. Kriisa had another good game in Arizona’s most recent win against Utah Tech, where he scored 24 points and dished out 5 assists. If he manages to keep this up, the Wildcats are going to be a tough team to beat.
California Golden Bears
After a disappointing 9-20 season last year (which included going 3-17 in conference play), the Golden Bears were looking to come into this season and improve off the last. So far, they haven’t done it. California started off 0-4 and has only had one player score thus far. Though they haven’t given up a ton of points (75 being the highest), they haven’t scored over 66 yet. It seems as though a lack of offensive talent and the team being young as whole will continue to haunt them as the season goes on.
Will Richardson (Oregon)
After making the Pac-12 second team last year, a lot was expected of Will Richardson coming into this season. The senior guard has been quite disappointing so far, averaging a mere 9 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. In addition to his lackluster stats, he has been quite inefficient from the field, shooting only 40% from the field and 24% from beyond the arc. Oregon has already dropped a game to UC Irvine, where Richardson had 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in 31 minutes of play. He will have to step up if the Ducks want to have a successful season.
Top 5 Prospects in the Pac-12
1. Kel'el Ware (Oregon)
This 7’0”, 210-pound freshman has the potential to be a great NBA player. He was a previous five star where he was a highly sought-after prize in the 2022 class of incoming players. With his commitment to Oregon and the loads of potential he possesses, it’s integral for NCAA and NBA fans to watch this guy and see how he progresses as the season goes on.
2. Adem Bona (UCLA)
Adem Bona is a perfect prospect for NBA scouts to watch as the college basketball season goes on. Standing at 6’10” and weighing 235 pounds, Bona’s physique indicates that when it comes to physicality at the next level, he won’t have as much of an adjustment period and can actually exceed expectations. Before joining the Bruins, Bona played for Prolific Prep and was a five-star center, receiving offers from the likes of Kansas and Kentucky before choosing UCLA as his college home.
3. Jaime Jaquez Jr. (UCLA)
The third Bruin on this list is also one of the longest tenured members of the Pac-12 and that is Jaime Jaquez Jr. Jaquez Jr. has been one of UCLA’s glue guys for the past two years and has done a great job at both facilitating and scoring for the Bruins. It would be ideal for him to go into a situation where an NBA team is already competing and needs a couple more bench pieces to get them over the hump. Jaquez Jr. provides a veteran type of presence for any team lucky to get him and can one day turn into a leader in the NBA.
4. Amari Bailey (UCLA)
Amari Bailey is a 6’5” guard out of Sierra Canyon. He was ranked fifth in the high school class of 2022 and committed to UCLA while boasting offers from other widely respected division 1 universities. He is a gifted athlete who can get a bucket when needed and will certainly be on NBA team’s draft boards as the season goes on.
5. Harrison Ingram (Stanford)
There was speculation that Harrison Ingram was going to enter the NBA draft after his 2021-2022 season with the Cardinal but he decided to come back for his sophomore year. Ingram’s build appeals to NBA scouts, standing at 6’7” and weighing in at 230 lbs. Though he showed some vulnerability when it came to efficiency last year, the former Pac-12 freshman of the year will look to up his draft stock as the season goes on.