Here are the five players Andy Katz expects to make a lasting impact on their teams in the Pac-12 this season.
1. McKinley Wright IV, 6-0, Jr., Colorado: Wright has been one of the hidden gems for two seasons. The word is out. He’s the real deal and should lead the Buffaloes to the NCAA tournament. He averages 13 points a game, nearly five boards and five assists a game. He needs to cut down on turnovers (3.1 a game). But he’s a big shot maker and has matured enough to handle the responsibility of delivering a bid.
2. Isaiah Stewart, 6-9, Fr., Washington: The Huskies have a tremendous recruiting class, led by Stewart and Jaden McDaniels. They are both built for Mike Hopkins’ offense and his zone. If Stewart lives up to his hype then the Huskies should be right back in contention for the Pac-12 title.
3. Remy Martin, 6-0, Jr., Arizona State: If the Sun Devils get back to the NCAA tournament then it will be because of Martin’s play. He will have more of a featured role this season. He’s the same player who went off for 27 in a win against Arizona. He had 10 points, four assists and just one turnover in a win over Kansas. Martin averaged a dozen points and five assists a game. Those numbers can climb.
4. Josh Green, 6-6, Fr., Arizona: The Wildcats have a slew of hype coming into this season. And a lot of it rests with point guard Nico Mannion. But Green needs to be the scorer/slasher on the wing for the Wildcats to ensure they can be in contention for the Pac-12 title. Chase Jeter will be an anchor inside. Green can offer up the balance.
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5. Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Sr., Oregon: The Ducks took a major hit with Bol Bol, Louis King and Kenny Wooten staying in the draft. Pritchard came back since he knew he wasn’t going to be a first-round pick. If the Ducks are to get back to the NCAA tournament after their surprising Pac-12 tournament title and Sweet 16 appearance then Pritchard must lead them. He had a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. His production can be again in the teens, but the Ducks will need his leadership, maturity and experience to get them a bid.