2019 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day

Tuesday, Oct. 8 | #Pac12Hoops
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2019 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day: McDonald's All-Americans, top recruiting classes boost Pac-12 optimism

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SAN FRANCISCO -- There is optimism surrounding Pac-12 men’s basketball heading into the 2019-20 season. Coming off an improved NCAA tournament showing in 2019, the conference is expected to be deeper and wide open this year, as evidenced by five different teams receiving first-place votes in the Pac-12 preseason media poll.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the optimism is the talent pool entering the league, as five McDonald’s All-Americans are set to make their collegiate debuts in November around the Pac-12 in Washington’s Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart, Arizona’s Josh Green and Nico Mannion and USC’s Isaiah Mobley.

At 2019 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day, Green and Mannion discussed why they chose to come to Arizona and what was attractive to them about playing in the Pac-12.

“The connection we made with the coaches. It was just an easy fit for us – comfortable with the coaches, the players that were there,” said Mannion, who was AAU teammates with Green. “I think it was an easy transition for us.”

“Arizona has prioritized us since a young age, since freshman year. They’ve always been there for us, and we built that relationship with them,” Green added. “I feel like we fit into the Pac-12 system perfectly. It’s a great adjustment from high school to college… It’s been fun, and at the same time I think we’ve made the right decision.”

The 2019 recruiting haul is among the best in recent history in terms of its depth with five McDonald's All-Americans - tied for the most in Conference history with the 2017, 2012 and 2006 classes - among 10 top 50 freshmen according to 247 Sports' Composite class rankings.

“There are a lot of schools that had really good recruiting years,” said Oregon head coach Dana Altman, whose Ducks hauled in a top-5 recruiting class for the second straight year according to 247Sports. “Recruiting is not an exact science, but I do like the players I see coming into the league. We recruited a lot of them that we didn’t get.”

The recruiting stands out from a national standpoint as well. Four Pac-12 squads landed in the top 11 of 247Sports’ team recruiting rankings – No. 4 Oregon, No. 6 Arizona, No. 7 USC and No. 11 Washington. Ten of the top 50 players in the Class of 2019 are starting their collegiate careers in the Pac-12. Moreover, the Pac-12 is the only conference in the country to have two teams with top-6 recruiting classes in each of the last three seasons.

“It’s amazing to think about how many great players our conference has produced,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “There are some incredible freshmen in our conference, and I think that bodes well for the season ahead.”

The hype is there in the Conference of Champions, and now it’s almost time to back it up. Fair or unfair, conferences are largely judged by their non-league performances in November and December.

“We’ve got to be able to win some games early,” Washington head coach Mike Hopkins said. “We’re just trying to make our league the best league in the country, and it starts with us winning in November.”

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