By Gary Parrish, CBS Sports Senior Writer
My favorite emails are the ones where I’m accused of having an East Coast bias.
Never mind that I’ve never lived in the east. (Editor’s note: Gary Parrish currently lives in Mississippi.)
Or on a coast.
The accusations still arrive with great regularity during the college basketball season, mostly when I supposedly shun a Pac-10 school, a Pac-10 player or the Pac-10 in general. It’s been happening for two years now, and it’ll almost certainly happen for a third because my supposed shuns tend to coincide with the Pac-10 being somewhere between bad and mediocre, and the Pac-10 seems setup to be the worst of the power conferences again next season.
For the third straight season.
Let’s start with the fact that every other power conference has a team ranked higher than the highest-ranked Pac-10 team (No. 15 Arizona) in the Ridiculously Early But Still Kind of Fun Preseason Top 25 (and one) Version 2.0 released earlier this week, and that every other power conference has at least three schools in those rankings — including the Big East, which has six total and three in the top 10.
The Pac-10 only has two ranked teams.
One of them is No. 26 UCLA.
This is the result of six of the 10 players who earned First Team All-Pac-10 honors (don’t ask why there were 10 players on the league’s official First Team, because that doesn’t make any sense to me either) applying for early entry to the NBA Draft, and the byproduct of years of so-so recruiting by most Pac-10 members. The Pac-10’s best returning player is probably Reeves Nelson. Truth be told, I like the UCLA forward just fine (and I love his arm of tattoos). But, well, you know what I’m trying to say.
And then there’s the 2012 mock draft at DraftExpress.com.
Clearly, it’s East Coast biased, too.
DraftExpress.com has 60 players projected to be picked in next year’s NBA Draft, and only one will play in the Pac-10 next season. That one is UCLA’s Josh Smith, a big-bodied center slotted outside of the lottery at 19th. For the purposes of comparison, consider that the SEC has 12 players projected to be picked in the 2012 NBA Draft, including seven in the first round. The ACC also has seven in the first round (and nine total). Even Conference USA has three, meaning C-USA will next season feature three times as many projected picks in 2012 NBA Draft as the Pac-10.
Kevin Love and O.J. Mayo are not walking through that door.
So after finishing seventh in CollegeRPI.com’s conference standings in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, it appears the Pac-10 is headed for another subpar year thanks to Arizona’s Derrick Williams, Washington’s Isaiah Thomas, Washington State’s Klay Thompson, Southern California’s Nikola Vucevic and UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee all turning pro early. There might not be a legitimate Final Four contender in the league and probably won’t be a real National Player of the Year contender, either. Consequently, East Coast teams and players will consistently be ranked higher and written about more — as will Southern teams and players, Midwest teams and players, etc.
And when it happens it won’t be because of some supposed bias, I assure you. It’ll be because basketball out west isn’t measuring up these days, and nothing is going to change until that changes first.
For more from Gary Parrish, check him out on Twitter: @GaryParrishCBS