Talent Distribution: the PAC 12

This is day six of evaluating the upper-end talent in major conferences. So far we've covered the ACC,  the AAC, the Big East, the Big Ten, and the Big 12. Go to the first link (the ACC) to read up on methods and where the data comes from. There's also a graphic there that shows in very simple terms why landing top 100 recruits is probably more important than you think.

Now to the PAC 12, which is finally emerging from the dark whole it's been buried in the past few years. The conference's final standing at Ken Pomeroy's site was as the 3rd best conference in the country, and this followed three straight years where they finished 6th, 5th, 7th.

The conference continues to get a little deeper this year. Last year there were four teams which had more than two consensus top 100 players on their rosters, and now that number has increased to six. Here's the distribution:

Even with transfers and NBA draft picks, UCLA remains with the most consensus top 100 recruits. They're down from the ten they had last year, but still, seven is a solid number. No team with eight or more top 100 recruits finished worse than 11-5 in any conference last season.

Arizona and Stanford are both right there with six, and then there's a drop to the next tier which includes Oregon, Colorado, and Southern Cal.

For the five teams at the bottom – Washington, Oregon State, Arizona State, Utah, and Washington State – keep in mind that there were 18 teams in high major conferences last year which had zero or one top 100 recruit on their rosters, and one of those 18 teams finished with a winning conference record. Of course, with 5 of 12 teams fitting that category in the PAC 12 this year, the odds are pretty good that one of them might pull out a winning record.

Here is the next tier of recruits – the top 50 players:

Arizona is loaded with top end talent. They "only" have six top 100 players, but all six of those kids were also in the top 50. UCLA is close on their heels, and then seven more top 50 players are scattered across six other teams.

As for the consensus top 25 5* players, here is how that looks:

The conference combines for 8, but 5 of those play for Arizona. Keep that in mind when you're projecting your PAC 12 standings.

Talent distribution: the PAC 12

Now on to the 5th part of our look at how talent is distributed in the major conferences. For definitions, sources, or other potentially meaningless bric-a-brac take a look at one of our earlier pieces. So far we've covered the Big Ten, the ACC, the SEC and the Big-12.

Today it is the PAC-12. Since we're assuming that you've either a) read the earlier stuff, or b) clicked the link, let's just jump right in.

The PAC-12 currently has 35 players who were consensus top-100 recruits. This is nowhere near the level of the ACC (56) or the SEC (50), but it's close to the Big Ten (40) and the Big-12 (31, distributed among two fewer schools than the Pac-12).

Here is how that talent is distributed:

The short story is that UCLA is absolutely loaded. They have ten consensus top-100 players, and that claim can only be made by one other school in the nation (Florida). Arizona is also loaded with seven, while Stanford has five, USC three, and everyone else one to two – except for Oregon State and Washington State which are shut out of the top-level talent.

But the majority of the 2012 NBA 1st rounders were consensus top-40 recruits. We'll back that out to top-50 and see how it looks:

Again, UCLA's talent level is sick. Arizona's five top-50 recruits put them among the elite in the nation, and still they aren't even close to UCLA. Lot of teams settle into 8-man rotations come conference play, and the Bruins could do that will all top-50 kids.

Six other PAC-12 schools have one top-50 player apiece.

But what about the elite of the elite – the consensus 5* players?

UCLA and Arizona hold 8 of the 9 in the conference. If you're picking anyone else for the 1 or 2 spots during the regular season, you're probably going to be wrong.