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5 post players to know for the 2022-23 Pac-12 men’s basketball season

Oct 31, 2022
Azuolas Tubelis | Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

The 2022 Pac-12 men’s basketball season is quickly approaching, with tipoff just a week away. To prepare for what should be another exciting year, Pac-12.com is highlighting some of the top student-athletes across the conference.

First up? Five of the league's top post players.

Ąžuolas Tubelis, Arizona

Tubelis was a major reason for the Wildcats success last season but he will have to take his game up a notch if Arizona hopes to repeat as Pac-12 champs. That's because three of the Wildcats' top contributors from last season — Christian Koloko, Dalen Terry, and Bennedict Mathurin — departed to the NBA.

Thankfully, the 6-11 Lithuanian looks primed to deliver. Tubelis made the All-Pac-12 First Team last season after finishing second on Arizona in points (13.9), rebounds (6.2), and blocks (0.7) per game.

N'Faly Dante, Oregon

At 6-11 and 230 pounds, Dante is as intimidating of a presence as you'll see on the court. After arriving in Eugene as a five-star recruit, Dante had to wait until his third year to play a full season because of injuries and COVID-19. Finally getting his chance last year, the Malian big man did not disappoint. 

Dante started all but five games last year, averaging 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and a block per game. He recorded double-digit rebounds on seven different occasions, including four double-doubles. After three seasons of either winning the Pac-12 regular-season or tournament championship, the Ducks missed out on both in 2022. If they hope to make it back this year, their odds may rest on Dante's massive shoulders.

Adem Bona, UCLA

The only incoming freshman on this list, Adem Bona will bring his 6-11 frame and five-star pedigree to UCLA starting this fall. The McDonald's All-American was ranked as the No. 17 recruit in his class and No. 4 center in 247Sports' composite rankings.

247Sports analyst Jerry Meyer wrote this about the Bruins' new big man: "Has a top notch physique with strength and athleticism. Runs like a deer and is an explosive leaper. Has good hands. Finishes lobs with authority and is a high level rebounder. Raw skill wise but shows promise as an attack the basket off a couple dribbles threat and as a respectable jump shooter. Defends and rebounds with passion. Can protect the rim." 

While the Bruins have seen recent success, Bona adds the kind of length that UCLA’s guard-heavy rotation has lacked at times.

Branden Carlson, Utah

The Runnin’ Utes are hoping to rise up the Pac-12 standings this season and their success will hinge on Carlson taking a leap in his senior season.

The 7-footer enjoyed his best season by a large margin in 2021-22, setting career highs in nearly every offensive category including points (13.6) and rebounds (6.0) per game, while making a career-best 17 3-pointers and shooting 81.8 percent from the free-throw line.

The Utah native improved as the season went along, scoring in double figures in nine of his final 10 games, including a personal-best 25 points against Colorado.

Mouhamed Gueye, Washington State

Gueye returns to the Palouse after making the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team last season while finishing among the Cougars' leaders in points (7.4), rebounds (5.2), blocks (0.9), and steals (0.8) per game. All categories that a reliable big man needs to dominate.

The sophomore's presence will be especially important after fellow bigs Efe Abogidi turned pro and Dishon Jackson announced he will be out indefinitely due to an undisclosed medical matter.