October 24, 2022 

Takeaways from Pac-12 preseason awards

Haley Jones, Cameron Brink lead the way

The media selected its 15-member All-Pac-12 Preseason team in advance of Tuesday’s media day in San Francisco. Let’s break it down.

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It’s the Brink and Jones Show

The Cardinal’s stars are undeniably the marquee names on this list. The Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year are both preseason All-Americans and should be in the best position to represent the Pac-12 on the national stage in terms of individual talent and attention. Both have significant NIL deals and significant social media profiles, and it will be interesting to see — with Paige Bueckers and Ayoka Lee out for the season — how bright the spotlight will get on these two Stanford stars. Worth nothing that Brink’s birthday is December 31, which makes her one-day short of eligibility for the 2023 WNBA Draft should she have been interested in an early exit from The Farm.

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Sophomores leading the way

A quartet of sophomores assume their positions among the conference’s top players heading into the season. Cal’s Jayda Curry became the first freshman in the history of the conference to lead the league in scoring last season (18.6 points per game), and was named the conference Freshman of the Year by the media. Utah’s duo of sophomore guards from Minnesota — Gianna Kneepkens and Jenna Johnson — have big expectations on them after leading the Utes into the NCAA Tournament last season. Kneepkens was the coaches’ choice for Freshman of the Year. And then there’s Oregon State’s Talia Von Oelhoffen, technically a sophomore, but in her third season with the Beavers as a COVID early-admit two seasons ago. Von Oelhoffen will have a huge role for an OSU team that has seen significant turnover from last season due to graduation and transfers.

Experience Counts

All three of Arizona’s preseason picks — the Wildcats tying Oregon for most preseason individual nods — are fifth-year seniors in forward Cate Reese, Shaina Pellington and Jade Loville. That kind of experience on the floor is going to serve Arizona well this season when the going gets tough. Reese has played 121 games in an Arizona uniform, every single one of them in the starting lineup. She finished with 19 double-doubles last season.

Loville reps for the transfers

Among the 10 players who transferred from one Pac-12 school to another during the offseason is Jade Loville, who was Arizona State’s leading scorer and made the move to Tucson after the retirement of Charli Turner Thorne. Loville tied with Curry for the conference scoring lead at 18.6 points a game for the Sun Devils last season, and was named to the All-Conference team, meaning that she has the potential to have a big scoring impact for the Wildcats this season.

No Freshman. Yet.

Despite a loaded incoming class for the Pac-12 that includes seven of the top 10 ranked recruits in the nation, nobody knows enough yet about all of these new players to get them a preseason all-conference nod, though UCLA’s Kiki Rice got a vote for honorable mention. Shouldn’t take long for that to change. Expecting these youngsters to make their presence felt quickly.

Written by Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has covered women's basketball nationally for nearly three decades. Smith has worked for ESPN.com, The Athletic, the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as Pac-12.com and WNBA.com. She was named to the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame in 2015, is the 2017 recipient of the Jake Wade Media Award from the Collegiate Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA) and was named the Mel Greenberg Media Award winner by the WBCA in 2019.

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