MoMo Jones, the former Arizona guard, has gotten a "hardship waiver" to allow him to play right away at Iona. This is huge news in the MAAC, where Fairfield and Iona fought it out atop the conference last year. I thought Iona was the best team, and the computers agreed with me, but Fairfield pulled it out in the end, and both teams ended up getting shocked by a mediocre St. Peter's team in the MAAC tournament. In my 2011-12 MAAC preview I said that I thought Fairfield would be even better, and picked them to win the conference. But that all changes now. Iona is not about the future right now - they're about now. Their two best players in years are both seniors (Scott Machado, who was second in the nation in assists per game last season, and Michael Glover, who led the MAAC in scoring and is a beast on the boards). MoMo Jones wasn't a great Pac-10 player, but he started for Arizona last season, and it's going to be quite a drop in competition level in the MAAC. In my opinion, Iona is now the favorite to win the MAAC, and they'll be a dangerous NCAA Tournament draw, most likely with an 11 or 12 seed.
This was going to be a rebuilding year for Arizona State no matter what. They went 4-14 in the Pac-12 and finished 121st in the Pomeroy ratings last season, and lost two starters including their best player (Rihards Kuksiks - who then was the best player this past summer on a feisty Latvian National Team that had a series of heartbreaking losses at Eurobasket 2011). The future for this team was going to be Jahii Carson, a true bluechip point guard recruit, and by far the top recruit in Herb Sendek's 2011 class. The problem is, Carson hasn't yet been cleared to play. The most enjoyable part of this season for Arizona State fans was going to be watching Carson develop, and seeing the team build for the future. That's all on hold right now at Arizona State.
Good news, bad news for Washington. The bad news is that star point guard recruit Tony Wroten just had knee surgery. The good news? He hopes not to miss any time. He actually hopes to be back in time to play in their exhibition game on November 4th against Seattle Pacific. I picked Washington to finish fourth in the Pac-12, but the reality is that the top of the Pac-12 is all really close. I personally think that Arizona is a step ahead of everybody else, though others disagree with me. And after Arizona? The conference is wide open. I think seven different teams (Arizona, California, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State) are entering the season believing that they have a chance to win the Pac-12. Tony Wroten is getting a ton of positive press, not just for his basketball ability but also for his character and leadership. Washington can't afford to have him miss any time. Their first real tough test will be November 20th at Saint Louis.