Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 1/3/12
In a 10-second burst in the second half Saturday, Washington guard Tony Wroten reinforced the belief that the Pac-12 freshman class is something special. Wroten collected a rebound at the Oregon free throw line and power-dribbled through the defense for a finger-roll layup at the other end. After Oregon hurried the ball inbounds, Wroten raced down the floor behind the play and got there in time to block Devoe Josephs three-point attempt from the left wing. Wroten recovered the blocked shot at the baseline and saved it to a teammate, leading to two free throws at the other end. Washington 76, Oregon 60. That's Wroten, as in remarkable. At 6-foot-5, Wroten is departed combo guard Isaiah Thomas writ a half-foot taller. Hes the most explosive player weve been, said Oregon coach Dana Altman, whose team also has played Vanderbilt, Virginia and BYU. Hes as good a prospect as our league has, Colorado coach Tad Bolyle said. Even if the Pac-12 is down this year, reinforcements have arrived. It has not taken long for the freshmannewcomers to make some noise. Wroten took center stage on the first weekend of conference play 43 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists in the Huskies home sweep of the Oregon schools, but he was hardly alone. Arizona off guard Nick Johnson, California forward David Kravish, Colorado off guard Spencer Dinwiddie, Stanford point guard Chasson Randle and Washington State off guard DaVonte Lacy have played their way into starting roles. Minnesota transfer Justin Cobbs has taken over as Cals starting point guard, and Oregon is getting contributions from Minnesota transfer Joseph, Louisiana Tech transfer Olu Ashaolu and Wake Forest transfer Tony Woods. All have contributed. Some will be special. -- Wroten is the best left-hander out of Seattle Garfield High since Jimi Hendrix, and the Huskies made sure to keep him in town. Kentucky, Kansas, UConn, Syracuse, et al, were interested, but Wroten made only one recruiting visit to Louisville before signing with the Huskies. He was ranked behind only Kentucky freshman Marquis Teague and Arizona freshman Josiah Turner in the 2011 point guard class. He puts a lot of pressure on your defense, Boyle said. Hes tall. Hes strong. He can get to the rim. You have to try to take him out of transition if you can. Hes so strong. Hes so athletic. -- Johnson jumps like his father, former ASU player Joey Johnson, and has the range and toughness of his uncle, Dennis Johnson, a five-time NBA All-Star and a two-time NBA titlist with the Boston Celtics in the mid-1980s. Arizona is 6-2 since inserting the 6-3 Johnson into the starting lineup after back-to-back losses to Mississippi State and San Diego State in late November. He has the best assist-to-turnover ratio among the UAs guards and has made 38 percent of his 3-point attempts. -- Dinwiddie, a native of Los Angeles, visited Oregon and Harvard before signing at Colorado. He has shown not only an ability make the spot-up jumper but also has made plays off the dribble and in transition. He also has shown a nice feel for the game. -- Kravish, from suburban Kansas City, broke onto the national scene while on the summer circuit in 2010 and committed to Cal that fall before his senior season at Lees Summit (Mo.) North High. He is a thin but wiry 6-9 and has a nice touch around the basket, both as a scorer and a passer. He is smooth and selfless, a nice fit on Jorge Gutierrezs team. Kravish had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting against UCLA and was matched up at times against wide body Josh Smith inside, although California always sent help. What he did was make quick, open shots. He has a really nice touch, UCLA coach Ben Howland said. A FIRST IMPRESSION It is clear that Colorado coach Tad Boyle believes his team can compete in its first season out of the Big 12, and he admits to putting some emphasis on the first series against former Pac-10 teams Washington and Washington State this weekend after easily handling newcomer Utah in its first official Pac-12 game. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. We have a chance to make an impression on the league. The only way you do it is on the floor, Boyle said. The Buffaloes were 24-12 last year, 8-8 in the Big 12, and made the NIT semifinals before a one-point loss to Alabama. Although they lost their top four scorers, they are building around Dinwiddie and 6-7 Andre Roberson. Washington reminds me of a Big 12 team," Boyle said. "They have the athleticism of a team like Kansas State or Oklahoma State. They are explosive offensively, like Kansas. They are a Big 12 caliber team, and one in the upper half of that league.
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