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Pac-12 sure could use some of its 50 NBA players right now

Dec 28, 2011, 12:05 PM EST

spt-111227-derrick-williams AP

The Pac-12 is hurtin’.

It’s seventh in kenpom.com standings, ninth in the RPI, hasn’t beaten any Top 25 teams and has racked up so many bad losses, Rob had trouble recounting them all last week.

UCLA is in freefall, Arizona and Washington are enduring growing pains, and Cal and Stanford have fattened up on soft schedules. Don’t ask about everyone else.

Guess all the good players went to the NBA.

As Dan Hanner notes over at RealGM.com, only the ACC placed more players on NBA opening day rosters. Fifty former Pac-12 players – including Derrick Williams – dot the pro ranks, two more than last season. That’s more than the Big East (46),  SEC (45), Big 12 (43) and Big Ten (just 27).

And somewhat remarkably, half of those Pac-12 players come from just two schools: UCLA and Arizona.

The Bruins have regularly sent guys to the NBA for the last decade. Scouts apparently love their solid fundamentals and defensive ability. Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt became the two most recent. (What that says about how much Ben Howland gets out of all that pro talent is another post.)

Arizona’s still coasting off Lute Olson’s heyday, though Williams represents the start of what should be plenty more Wildcats in the NBA.

At some point the league’s performance will have to reflect the amount of conference talent, right? Drew Cannon noted this summer that the Pac-12’s “footprint” was better than observers thought and the conference was recruiting just fine (though not as the ACC).

Guessing it’ll help when the conference’s coaches settle in, too. Nine of them have been running their programs four years or less. Johnny Dawkins (Stanford), Mike Montgomery (Cal) and Sean Miller (Arizona) all seem to have their teams on the upswing. Dana Altman (Oregon) and Craig Robinson (Oregon State) are close.

Good thing, too. The Pac-12 could use some better results.

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