Pac-12 MBB once again without a Black head coach

Commentary on Pac-12 developments on and off the field …

Falling: Pac-12 basketball coaching diversity

The surprising retirement of Villanova coach Jay Wright on Wednesday, accompanied by the appointment of his successor, former ‘Nova assistant Kyle Neptune, prompted the Hotline to return to an issue addressed in this space one year ago.

Neptune will be the seventh Black head coach in the Big East, the highest total among the Power Six leagues.

That’s a stark contrast to the Pac-12, which is devoid of diversity at the top of its men’s basketball programs.

Barring an unexpected change prior to the start of the 2022-23 season, the conference will field an all-white coaching lineup for the fourth consecutive year.

Once again, it will be the only Power Six league without a Black head coach.

It’s not a systemic problem. The conference used to boast such a diverse lineup of coaches that it was known within the industry as the “Black-10,” according to former Oregon and Washington State coach Ernie Kent.

But not lately. The last appointment of a Black coach came in 2017, when Cal promoted Wyking Jones to replace Cuonzo Martin.

The last external hire of a Black coach by a Pac-12 program was in the spring of 2014when Martin arrived in Berkeley and Kent took charge in Pullman.

The conference is trending white on the football side, too.

There were five Black coaches as recently as the 2020 season; next fall, there will be three (Stanford’s David Shaw, ASU’s Herm Edwards and Colorado’s Karl Dorrell) following changes over the past year-and-a-half at Arizona (Kevin Sumlin out, Jedd Fisch in) and Washington (Jimmy Lake out, Kalen DeBoer in).

That said, there is diversity on the women’s basketball side, with three Black coaches: Arizona’s Adia Barnes, ASU’s Natasha Adair (hired last month) and Cal’s Charmin Smith.

And it’s worth noting that the conference office is hiring a Chief People and Inclusion Officer, a newly created position that will report directly to commissioner George Kliavkoff.

(TurnkeyZRG is assisting the search.)

But headquarters can only advise the campuses; it has no official role in the hiring process and couldn’t become involved without the consent of the schools.

Also, the Pac-12 is unable to implement its version of the Rooney Rule (NFL) or the Russell Rule (West Coast Conference) because of the legal framework that governs hiring at public institutions.

The current situation is rooted entirely in campus-specific circumstances, but it’s a bad look for the collective.

Rising: UCLA basketball

The Bruins just lost guard Johnny Juzang, who announced Wednesday that he’s headed to the NBA Draft. But the outlook for next season is bright with the confirmed return of Jaime Jaquez Jr. and the apparent return of Tyger Campbell.

(The NBA’s early-entry deadline is Sunday night, so Campbell still has time to declare — and render this assessment moot.)

In our view, UCLA’s prospects for 2022-23 hinged on the condition that Campbell and either Juzang or Jaquez come back.

up arrow

The combination of elite point guard and stellar all-around wing would provide the launch point for another run at the Final Four and take the pressure off the unproven players filling the holes elsewhere.

And if wing Jules Bernard returns — he declared for the draft but is retaining college eligibility — the Bruins will have even more flexibility in how they use the complementary pieces.

At this point, they stand as the team to beat in the Pac-12 and a solid preseason top-10 selection.

Falling: Arizona basketball

The short-term outlook for the defending regular season and tournament champions has grown incrementally worse in recent weeks.

We fully expected wing Bennedict Mathurin, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, to turn pro; he’s a likely Lottery Pick.

And we semi-expected center Christian Koloko to declare for the draft — he made it official earlier this week — given the NBA’s forever need for athletic 7-footers and his dramatic improvement over the past 12 months.

The Wildcats have a capable replacement for Koloko in junior Oumar Ballo, who played 15 minutes per game, but they probably won’t replicate the Twin Towers option that proved so effective.

And without Mathurin, they won’t have an elite perimeter scorer capable of manufacturing baskets when the offense breaks down.

The Wildcats surprised us in Tommy Lloyd’s first season — stunned us, actually. So we can’t discount the potential for another upside surprise. But without Mathurin and Koloko, the likelihood of a dominant regular season has become undiniably more remote.

Rising: Oregon State basketball

After its outlook plunged like the Netflix stock price, OSU was in desperate need of a roster overhaul. And sure enough, the expected purge is underway with Dashawn Davis, Jarod Lucas, Gianni Hunt and Tre Williams all in the transfer portal.

To this point, coach Wayne Tinkle hasn’t added anyone (per the 247Sports database), and we’re not sure a wave of newcomers is vital to jump-starting the recovery.

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