So I’m sitting here at my local Carmax waiting in the customer lounge listening to some Jay Rock. Probably going to be here a while so I figure why not get some writing done. I think today I want to touch on the massive decline in west coast college basketball.
Of course some of you will say that the west coast is still strong with the strength of the Mountain West and competitive West Coast Conference. But let’s be real about this, outside of UNLV, none of those schools can truly be a national power. Not even Gonzaga. So the question becomes, what happened to the Pac-12?
Well first things first, the NBA happened to the Pac12. Consider all the NBA picks the Pac12 produced in the 2000’s. Guys like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Aaron Affalo, James Harden, Taj Gibson, Oj Mayo, Chase Budinger, Brandon Jennings(An Arizona Commit, went pro in Europe before entering NBA Draft), Brook and Robin Lopez, Andre Igoudala, Klay Thompson, Jared Cunningham, Nikola Vucevic, Trevor Ariza, Jerryd Bayless, Demar Derozan, Spencer Hawes, Jrue Holiday, Terrence Ross, and Tony Wroten Jr, too name a few. Not to say this is a good reason for the fall, as losing this caliber of talent in any given 10yr span for most power conferences is a badge of honor, not burden.
Next, poor recruiting. The Pac12’s top schools, ranking wise, haven’t fallen off all too much. Though their best class in 2013 is ranked only 20th nationally, according to Rivals. The high ranking players realizing the potential of said rankings in the Pac12 has been terrible. The reasons for that are numerous, some I’ll get to later. But one of the main reasons recruiting as a whole, I believe, has fallen off for the pac12 is poor marketing and media availability. I live on the west coast, in the LA tv market. I can count the number of Pac12 games I watched on one hand. Mind you, I watch any ball available to me. The Pac12 network isn’t available in many LA homes, yet alone nationally. This creates a massive disconnect between a conference and it’s home base. I remember as a young kid being able to turn the tv on and seeing Jason Kapono and the Bruins or the Craven Twins at USC almost every night on local telecast. Those days are long gone. If games aren’t on the Pac12 networks they’re on one of the numerous espn platforms(though rarely on their primary channel), competing against the Big Ten or ACC for views. A losing battle every time.
To the point of tv, the few Pac12 games I watched were… Well… Unwatchable. The quality of play was poor, almost low mid-major like. And this brings me to Pac12 coaching. One of the reasons past coaches in the conference such as Lute Olsen, Steve Lavin, and Tim Floyd(his UTEP recruiting class is ranked ahead of all Pac12 schools this year) had success recruiting pro level talent is they played pro style basketball. The reason the Pac12 keeps losing recruits to the ACC and Big 12, besides being better brands, is style of play. My own cousin from here in So Cal, a state champ in the heart of Pac12 recruiting land, chose to go to Oklahoma St. Being a coach here in Southern California, I can tell you that kids here don’t look at UCLA, Arizona, or even USC, Washington, or Cal, the way I did as a kid watching Mike Bibby, Michael Dickerson and Co. win a national championship. I hope that Coach Enfield, formerly of “Dunk City” fame at Florida Gulf Coast, represents a needed change in Pac12 style of play, and helps to put the conference back on prime time tv and back in the forefront of the mind of west coast recruits. Much like Pete Carroll and USC football’s brash and confident style brought Pac12 football back on the national stage. Though I must admit, it helped winning titles and having Heisman Trophy winners.
To be honest, these things to me are only the tip of the iceberg in Pac12 problems. The conference I grew up watching and respecting is a shell of it’s former self. Perhaps some more conference realigning will help, adding UNLV and San Diego State may be a good conference move, but the Pac12 is in serious trouble. I can only hope this turns around soon.
Alright, well after a couple of hours of waiting at Carmax, I’m still here lol. But that’s the end of this blog post. Hope you enjoyed. Feel free to subscribe, like, follow, share, and comment. Always willing to engage in conversation on any topic and love hearing other people’s perspective. Till next time, just another day in the Life of A Basketball Addict.