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Pac-12 roundup: UCLA makes run at John Calipari, UW’s Jaylen Nowell declares for NBA Draft, Cal and WSU hire new coaches

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pac-12-roundup-college-basketball-ucla-bruins-calipari-jaylen-nowell-nba-draft-cal-wsu-hire-coaches Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

All is quiet around the Arizona Wildcats these days, so let’s take some time to see what the rest of the Pac-12 is up to.

UCLA makes a run at John Calipari and predictably fails

According to Seth Davis of The Athletic, the UCLA Bruins offered John Calipari a six-year, $48 million contract to be their next head coach.

But Calipari is staying at Kentucky because UK countered UCLA by offering a mega-deal that is “essentially a lifetime contract,” per Davis.

So who will UCLA turn to now? The LA Times is reporting that Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin and TCU’s Jamie Dixon are the top candidates, while listing Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett, Texas coach Shaka Smart and former Bruin Earl Watson as fallback options.

Washington loses Jaylen Nowell to NBA Draft

UW sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell is entering the NBA Draft after a stellar season that included him being named the Pac-12 Player of the Year.

While Nowell technically has until May 29 to decide if he wants to return to UW, the statement he released on social media sounds like he is firm in his decision to go pro.

“After talking with my Mother, family, teammates and coaching staff, I have decided to enter the 2019 NBA Draft,” he said. “I want to thank everyone, especially the city of Seattle, for your support. I hope you all will continue to support me through my professional career. I will always be a Dawg for life.”

The Huskies are also losing seniors Noah Dickerson, David Crisp, Matisse Thybulle and Dominic Green graduation, so it will be new-look UW team next season.

Here’s what our friends at UW Dawg Pound had to say about that:

This will be a very different Washington team next season. The Huskies led the country in minutes continuity this season. With their top-5 in terms of total minutes gone it will be once again one of the younger and least experienced teams in the conference. But with possibly up to three 5-star players coming into the program (PG Quade Green transferring from Kentucky, C Isaiah Stewart, and potentially F Jaden McDaniels) there will be plenty of raw talent. How quickly a young Husky team can gel and form an identity will be key to how much success the team has next season.Sam Timmins is the lone player initially recruited by Lorenzo Romar so we can now see what a team made entirely in Coach Hopkins’ image looks like.

Washington State hires Kyle Smith

Ernie Kent is out and San Francisco head coach Kyle Smith is in with the Washington State Cougars. Smith went 63-40 at USF, winning 20 or more games in all three seasons at the helm.

“Smith brings a very unique style of coaching to the Palouse,” wrote Michael Preston over at CougCenter.Dubbed “Nerdball”, Smith’s approach to the game is heavily driven by the numbers, relying on some 50 different statistical categories while he evaluates his team.

“Smith worked with Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett for years, diving into the statistics of Ken Pomeroy from the early days. It fits the profile of what athletic director Pat Chun and university president Kirk Schulz were looking for in their next coach.”

The Cougars, who went 11-21 this season, are going to have a lot of new faces next season and might have to replace star freshman guard CJ Elleby, who declared for the NBA Draft.

However, the expectation is that he is just testing the waters and will eventually return to WSU.

Robert Franks, WSU’s leading scorer and rebounder, has exhausted his eligibility.

USC adds Columbia grad transfer

The USC Trojans landed Columbia graduate transfer Quinton Adlesh, a 6-foot guard who is an excellent 3-point shooter that averaged 13.5 points per game this season.

“USC needs point guards, veterans and dudes who can hit threes. Looks like the Trojans checked all three boxes here with Columbia grad transfer Quinton Adlesh,” tweeted Brady McCollough of the LA Times.

Cal hires Mark Fox

It took a while for the California Golden Bears to fire Wyking Jones. despite him posting two 20-loss seasons and being unqualified for the job from the get-go.

It did not take long for the Bears to find his replacement, tabbing former Georgia and Nevada coach Mark Fox as their new head man just five days after cutting the cord with Jones.

Fox compiled an impressive 123-43 in five seasons (2004-2009) at Nevada before posting a subpar 163-133 record in nine seasons at Georgia that only included two NCAA Tournament appearances.

Here’s what our friends at California Golden Blogs had to say about the hire:

Well, Fox’s time at Nevada was solid, making the NCAA tournament in his first three seasons. It’s also fair to point out that Nevada’s performance declined in years 4 and 5, once Trent Johnson’s recruits graduated. Still, those results are a decade in the past and not as relevant as his years at Georgia.

More relevantly, Fox is as clean as they come in the world of modern basketball. How valuable this will be with NCAA rules coming under increasing attack from the media, the courts, and legislatures is unclear to me. Staying in compliance with a dying organization may not be of much use. But the general point that Fox cares about following the rules means something.

When Fox was fired by Georgia, he got more than a few media paeans to all of the non-basketball ways in which he ran his program. Graduating his players, mentoring his grads, staying on the good side of donors and media, etc. etc. Some of these skills are nice bonuses, others should be basic prerequisites (but are often ignored). Taken collectively you get the portrait of a genuinely kind person.

On the basketball side of the ledger, Fox is clearly competent. While his Georgia record doesn’t wow, a .500 record indicates a baseline level of know-how. More interestingly, he produced some legitimately good defenses and generally is an above average coach on that side of the ball. At Georgia, he gave away much of that advantage with consistently below average offensive production and generally mediocre recruiting. As the off-season moves along CGB will have a deeper dive into Fox’s coaching history to see what we can glean from his past.

In summary: Cal has hired a really great guy, and an evidently average basketball coach from the perspective of wins and losses.

Speaking of Trent Johnson, Cal is reportedly adding the former LSU, TCU, Nevada and Stanford head coach as an assistant, which should boost Fox’s ability to recruit.