College Basketball Nation: J.T. Terrell

Conference Power Rankings: Pac-12

December, 21, 2012
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Is there any league in the country where the drop-off from No. 1 to No. 2 is so significant? At least the Big 12 has a ranked team (Oklahoma State) chasing Kansas. In the Pac-12 it's Arizona and then, well ... no one. Here are this week's power rankings.

1. Arizona. The Wildcats open play against East Tennessee State in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu on Saturday and could face a tough test against an underrated Miami squad in the second round. If the bracket holds form, Arizona would play San Diego State in the title game on Christmas Day.

2. Colorado. UCLA, Oregon and Cal have all been in the No. 2 slot at some point this season -- and so has Colorado, which is making its return despite a 36-point loss to Kansas on Dec. 8. Spencer Dinwiddie is a finalist for the Cousy Award. Andre Roberson averages 12.3 rebounds, which ranks third nationally.

3. Oregon. The Ducks lost at UTEP on Wednesday in three overtimes, but Dana Altman still has to be encouraged with the direction of this team -- and this program. Arsalan Kazemi has three double-doubles in his past five games.

4. UCLA. There is too much talent in Westwood to write off the Bruins this early. UCLA has won four of its past five games, with the only setback coming against San Diego State. A victory over Fresno State on Saturday seems likely. Shabazz Muhammad (17.8 points) and Jordan Adams (17.5) are both putting up impressive offensive numbers.

5. Oregon State. What has happened to Ahmad Starks? The point guard who had 25 points in a single-digit loss to Kansas on Nov. 30 is averaging just 7.5 points in his past four contests. Oregon State should beat its next three opponents (San Diego, Towson and Texas-Pan American) before opening Pac-12 play at home against Oregon on Jan. 6.

6. Cal. Last weekend's loss to Creighton marked the third loss in a three-game skid (since snapped with a win over UC Santa Barbara) for Mike Montgomery's Golden Bears, whose best victory is against Georgia Tech at the DIRECTV Classic.

7. Stanford. The Cardinal have played four upper-level teams (Missouri, Minnesota, Belmont and North Carolina State) and lost each time. In other words, unless you count Northern Iowa, Johnny Dawkins' squad has yet to win a game that will impress the NCAA tournament committee.

8. Washington. The Huskies have won five of their past six games thanks, in large part, to C.J. Wilcox. Washington's leading scorer averages 19.2 points. Even more impressive are his figures from the Huskies' last two games: 21 points, 4.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2 steals.

9. Arizona State. I still can't shake the image of the Sun Devils getting destroyed at home by DePaul. But hey, everyone has a bad night, right? There is still plenty to like about this team -- mainly point guard Jahii Carson (17.9 points, 5.3 assists), forward Jordan Bachynski (4.8 blocks) and small forward Carrick Felix (15.1 points, 7.5 rebounds).

10. Utah. The Utes avenged an early-season loss to SMU by defeating the Mustangs 62-53 Tuesday in Salt Lake City. Jarred DuBois averages team-highs in points (13.8) and assists (3.2). Jordan Loveridge averages 11.7 points and 7.2 rebounds.

11. Washington State. The Cougars have won five of their past six games. Brock Motum (20.4 points) and DaVonte Lacy (10.1) form a nice 1-2 punch. Going .500 in Pac-12 play might be enough to save Ken Bone's job.

12. USC. The Trojans have way too much talent to be playing as poorly as they did in Thursday's home loss to UC Irvine. Wake Forest transfer J.T. Terrell, who was supposed to be USC's savior, has been benched for his poor defensive effort.

USC transfer Oraby cleared to play

November, 9, 2012
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Finally, some good fortune is starting to fall on the USC basketball team.

The Trojans were informed Thursday that Omar Oraby -- a 7-foot-2, 265-pound transfer from Rice -- has been cleared by the NCAA to compete this season. Oraby broke Rice’s single-season blocks record last year, but, strangely, played just 11 minutes per game and averaged only six points.

USC coach Kevin O’Neill said Oraby will play a major role for the Trojans.

“The sky is the limit for this guy,” O’Neill told ESPN.com Thursday. “He can catch, he can shoot, he can pass and block shots and rebound. He’s still developing, but he’s a legit player.”

USC finished 6-26 last season and set a school record for losses. But that was mainly because the Trojans lost four starters to season-ending injuries.

[+] EnlargeOmar Oraby
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireRice transfer Omar Oraby should provide USC with another inside presence. Oraby blocked 54 shots for the Owls last season.
This year’s team will look completely different. All of the players who were hurt last season are healthy again, and O’Neill signed a handful of transfers who are expected to catapult the Trojans from one of the league’s worst teams to one of its best.

No one is ready to say that USC will challenge Arizona and UCLA for the Pac-12 title. But finishing in the upper half of the conference and earning an NCAA tournament berth are realistic goals.
Especially with the addition of Oraby.

“Our team was ecstatic when we gave them the news,” O’Neill said. “We’ve all seen how good he can be at practice. There are times when he’s been dominant.”

O’Neill said he’ll go with a starting frontcourt of DeWayne Dedmon and UC-Irvine transfer Eric Wise in Friday’s season-opener against Coppin State. But he said Oraby will definitely see action.

“He’s been working out with us,” O’Neill said. “He’s up to speed. He could end up starting for us in the near future.”

If anything, Oraby provides even more depth to a frontcourt that wasn’t hurting for bodies. Besides Oraby, Dedmon and Wise, USC is expected to get major contributions from veterans Aaron Fuller and James Blasczyk, who is nicked up and probably won’t play against Coppin State.

O’Neill said sophomore Byron Wesley will be the team’s starting small forward Friday while former Wake Forest starter J.T. Terrell gets the nod at shooting guard. Jio Fontan, who missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, will be the Trojans’ point guard and will be backed up by freshman walk-on Chass Bryan, who has been the team’s biggest surprise during preseason workouts.

“We knew he was coming, but we didn’t know how good he was,” O’Neill said of the 5-9, 165-pound Bryan. “He didn’t have a great senior year of high school, but he’s shown us something. We think he’s really good.”

Bryan’s emergence couldn’t have come at a better time. Maurice Jones, USC’s starting point guard the past two seasons, was declared academically ineligible and transferred to Iowa State. The Trojans are confident in Fontan, but depth was an issue before Bryan became a factor.

After experiencing so much adversity last season, O’Neill was asked if the “basketball Gods” were finally showing some compassion for USC.

“You never want to think that because you don’t know what can happen,” he said. “But to get two guys late like this that are going to be high in our rotation, we feel pretty lucky.”

Pac-12's most important players

July, 17, 2012
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Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on the Pac-12, click here.

Arizona: Nick Johnson
The shooting guard tapered off at the end of his freshman season, when he averaged just 6.1 points in his last seven games. It will be interesting to see if the presence of highly touted freshman Gabe York and Xavier transfer Mark Lyons will cause Johnson to step up his game.

[+] EnlargeJared Cunningham, Devon Collier
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireJunior forward Devon Collier, right, will be heavily leaned on by the Beavers this upcoming season.
Arizona State: Jordan Bachynski
The 7-foot-2 center was a bright spot for the Sun Devils during an otherwise frustrating season in 2011-12. Don't be fooled by his ho-hum statistics (6.0 points; 4.0 rebounds). In Arizona State's last 13 games, Bachynski averaged 10.1 points, 6 boards and 2 blocks. He'll be one of the top post players in the league this season.

California: Richard Solomon
The 6-foot-10, 220-pound forward was averaging 6.8 points and 6.2 rebounds when he was declared academically ineligible after 13 games last season. It was a huge loss for the Golden Bears, who are a much better team when Solomon is anchoring the defense down low.

Colorado: Andre Roberson
The forward ranked third in the nation in rebounding last season with 11.1 boards per game. Most NBA mock drafts predict that Roberson will be a first-round pick next summer. For now, the biggest question is whether Roberson can lead the Buffaloes to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season.

Oregon: Tony Woods
The 6-foot-11, 250-pound Woods put up modest numbers (6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds) after transferring to Eugene last season. Still, the former Wake Forest post player has yet to live up to the lofty expectations that have hovered over him since high school. Oregon will be a different caliber team if Woods takes that "next step" in his final season.

Oregon State: Devon Collier
With Jared Cunningham now in the NBA, the spotlight will shine on Collier. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 13.2 points and 5.3 rebounds as a sophomore last season, when he shot 61.5 percent from the field. He also blocked an average of 1.3 shots per contest.

Stanford: Aaron Bright
The point guard should be full of confidence after averaging 16.8 points and 4.2 assists during Stanford's march to the NIT title. Bright's performance earned him tournament MVP honors. If he plays that way in 2012-13, the Cardinal will be back in the NCAA tournament.

UCLA: Larry Drew
The Bruins' recruiting class has generated a ton of offseason buzz, and rightfully so. But a strong performance by Drew at point guard will be vital if the Bruins hope to be a mainstay in the top 10. Drew was North Carolina's starter before walking out on his team midway through the 2010-11 season.

USC: J.T. Terrell
The shooting guard averaged 11.1 points as a freshman at Wake Forest in 2009-10. He withdrew from school last fall after he was arrested for driving while impaired. Terrell played last season at Peninsula Junior College. Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill said Terrell is one of the most talented players he's ever signed.

Utah: David Foster
The 2009-10 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year missed all of last season with a broken foot. Foster, a 7-foot-3, 243-pound center, will return this season and try to help the Utes bounce back from the worst season in school history. Foster holds Utah's all-time record for blocked shots with 219.

Washington: Scott Suggs
C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy are the most recognizable names on the roster. But don't forget about Suggs, a sharpshooter who averaged 7.4 points and shot 45 percent from 3-point range as a junior two years ago. The 6-foot-6 Suggs, who redshirted last season because of a foot injury, could be one of the X factors for the Huskies.

Washington State: Reggie Moore
The Cougars might be decent if Moore can keep his head on straight. The point guard was suspended in January 2011 following his arrest on marijuana-related charges. Last season, he played in all 37 games and averaged 10.2 points and 5.2 assists. Moore is one of the most underrated players in the country at his position. His leadership this season will be key.

Summer Shootaround: Pac-12

July, 17, 2012
7/17/12
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Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on the Pac-12, click here.

1. UCLA's late recruiting surge: Less than two months after a Sports Illustrated story threatened to damage the reputation of coach Ben Howland and his program, the Bruins added a pair of standout freshmen who could make UCLA a top-10 staple this season. Shooting guard Shabazz Muhammad -- the No. 2-ranked prospect in the class of 2012 -- announced his intentions during a live telecast on ESPNU in May. Center Tony Parker, who is ranked No. 26, followed suit soon after. Mix in fifth-ranked Kyle Anderson, a small forward who signed in the fall, and it's easy to see why UCLA's haul was ranked No. 1 in the country by ESPN.

2. Mark Lyons transfers to Arizona: The Wildcats' list of newcomers became even more impressive with the addition Lyons, who scored nearly 1,200 points in three seasons at Xavier. Arizona coach Sean Miller signed Lyons when he coached the Musketeers and had a chance to reconnect with him when Lyons decided to transfer for his final season. Lyons will provide a huge boost to a squad that also welcomes the country's third-ranked recruiting class. Mix in returnees such as Solomon Hill and Nick Johnson and there will be no excuses for the Wildcats missing the NCAA tournament, which they've done two of the past three seasons.

3. USC's bounce back: Could a team that finished 6-26 overall and 1-17 in Pac-12 play last season actually make the NCAA tournament in 2013? Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill says yes, and there appears to be validity to his optimism. Last year's squad lost four starters to season-ending injuries and was down to six scholarship players by the end of the season. Now USC is preparing to welcome back team captain Jio Fontan and NBA prospect Dewayne Dedmon along with newcomers such as Wake Forest transfers J.T. Terrell and Ari Stewart. Tissue-thin a year ago, the 2012-13 Trojans will be the deepest team of O'Neill's tenure.

4. Washington hurt by NBA draft: The Huskies' chances of repeating as Pac-12 champions took a major hit when sophomore small forward Terrence Ross and freshman point guard Tony Wroten left school early to turn pro. Both players became instant millionaires when they were selected in the first round. Ross was picked eighth by Toronto; Memphis nabbed Wroten with the 25th selection. The early departures will put additional pressure on players such as C.J. Wilcox, Abdul Gaddy and Aziz N'Diaye. Even with Ross and Wroten in the lineup, Washington missed the NCAA tournament last spring. Can they make it this season without them?

5. Can Jahii Carson make Arizona State relevant again?: The Sun Devils experienced their worst season under Herb Sendek when they went 10-21 last season. But let's face it: Arizona State hasn't had a quality point guard since Derek Glasser graduated two years ago. Carson was supposed to fill that void as a freshman last season, but he was ruled academically ineligible and never played a game. Luckily, he was able to practice with his teammates, which should help him adapt to the college game more quickly when he takes the court for the first time this fall. Arizona State has missed the NCAA tournament the past three seasons.

Things are not going well at Wake

September, 6, 2011
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It's one thing to have an historically awful season. Hey, it happens. And it's one thing to lose a few players to transfer, or bad behavior, or the occasional 18-year-old mistake. That happens, too.

The problem is when you combine the two -- when you're bad on the floor and off. Wake Forest had one of the worst seasons in its history in 2011, and head coach Jeff Bzdelik is desperately trying to rebuild the once-proud Demon Deacons into an ACC contender (or at least something above "sudden doormat") in his second year on the job. Unfortunately, Wake is combining the on-court struggles with some truly ugly off-court problems, the latest of which came this weekend courtesy of sophomore guard J.T. Terrell. From the Associated Press:
Guard J.T. Terrell is withdrawing from Wake Forest and leaving the basketball team after he was charged with driving while impaired.

Terrell's attorney, Mike Grace, said in a statement issued Monday through the school that Terrell was arrested by Winston-Salem Police at about 3 a.m. Saturday. Grace says the circumstances of the arrest and other signs indicate that Terrell "suffers from a serious medical condition which requires immediate attention."

Terrell was an intriguing prospect as a freshman, averaging 11.1 points in 24.0 minutes per game. Having him back in 2012 wouldn't have catapulted Wake into the upper echelons of the ACC, but it would have been a solid player with which Wake could seek to compete and improve throughout the season.

Keep in mind how much Wake Forest has already lost in the past year. Center Tony Woods left the school after being charged with assault against the mother of his child. Freshman Melvin Tabb was dismissed -- and then reinstated and then dismissed again -- first for conduct detrimental to the team and eventually theft. Bzdelik suspended forward Ty Walker for a month for a related issue.

It's been a mess, and that's putting it generously. Every program has its off-court issues. Every program goes through losing seasons. But when you combine things like assault charges, theft and driving under the influence with plain bad basketball, well, these things start to pile up. A good team can't afford to lose players or suffer the reputation damage, but it can typically weather the storm. A bad team? Not so much.

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