If the Pac-12 is going to rebound from losing so many of its top players to the pros, its highly regarded young players are going to have to make an immediate impact. Incoming freshmen such as Arizona's Josiah Turner, Arizona State's Jahii Carson and Washington's Tony Wroten are expected to get plenty of playing time.
So it's a good sign for the league that top-100 freshmen Jabari Brown of Oregon and Chasson Randle of Stanford have already shown in the preseason that they have what it takes, leading their respective teams in scoring during preseason tours.
In Spain, Randle capped off his trip on Sunday with a 14-point performance against FC Barcelona Regal, a team that had beaten the Los Angeles Lakers in an exhibition game last year. He has drawn raves from professional coaches in the high-powered Spanish league and compliments from his own coach as well.
"He handled the ball with poise and also finished in traffic and through contact," the Cardinal's Johnny Dawkins said an earlier game on the trip. "He's growing up. You're going to have ups and downs being a young player. Watching the last three games, I can see him getting better and better, and also conditioned to playing this style of basketball."
Earlier this month in Italy, Oregon saw Jabari Brown average 15.4 points and five rebounds while making all 16 of his free throw attempts. He also played like a freshman at times, committing 14 turnovers against four assists over the course of the five games.
"I thought he really did a nice job early of taking what the defense gave him and making plays," Oregon coach Dana Altman told The Register-Guard. "We got behind in those last two games and I thought Jabari just tried to do too much. With his competitiveness, he tried to make a play every time he got it, and because of that he forced a few things, but for his first time out, it shows his potential, and gave us a few things he's going to have to work on."
Randle before leaving for Spain expressed similar sentiments about a constant need for improvement. Flashes of talent were displayed on the trip, but the real test is how much the freshmen get better over the course of the season.
"I feel comfortable, but there's always work to be done," Randle said. "I just want to keep getting better every day, keep bringing energy."