SAN FRANCISCO – Defending national champion Stanford is the unanimous choice to win the 2021-22 Pac-12 women’s basketball title in a vote of 26 media members who cover the league.
The media’s preseason assessment of the Conference race largely mirrors that of the coaches, whose preseason poll was unveiled prior to Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day on Oct. 12. The Cardinal, which received every first-place vote and totaled 312 points, is followed by 2020-21 NCAA Tournament teams Oregon, UCLA and Oregon State in the top four spots.
Oregon leads the Pac-12 with four players on the preseason all-conference team. The Ducks’ quartet on the league’s early-season list includes recent USA Basketball gold medalists in Te-Hina Paopao (FIBA U19 World Cup) and Sedona Prince (FIBA AmeriCup), along with Endyia Rogers and Nyara Sabally.
The Ducks also checked in at No. 2 in the preseason Pac-12 media poll Wednesday, matching where they were picked to finish by the league’s coaches at Pac-12 Media Day in October.
Paopao, who was named to the preseason watch list for the Nancy Lieberman Award honoring the nation’s top point guard, averaged 10.2 points and a team-high 4.4 assists per game as a freshman in 2020-21. She also shot 39.5 percent from downtown while leading all freshman nationally with a 2.40 assist-to-turnover ratio on the way to earning postseason All-Pac-12 honors.
In her first season on the court as a collegiate player, Prince scored 10.4 points per game while shooting 54.5 percent from the floor and grabbing 3.9 rebounds per contest. She also blocked 1.5 shots per game while reaching double figures in scoring 11 times, highlighted by a career-high 22 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Georgia.
A two-year starter at USC before transferring to Oregon, Rogers averaged 13.8 points per game and averaged 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists over her two seasons with the Trojans. She earned All-Pac-12 honors a season ago after finishing seventh in the conference with 14.8 points per game while ending the year fifth in the league with 4.3 assists per contest.
Another All-Pac-12 selection in 2020-21, Sabally led the Ducks in both scoring (12.9 PPG) and rebounding (7.3 RPG) while ranking third in the conference with a field goal percentage of 54.7. She was named to the preseason watch list for the Katrina McClain Award, which goes to the nation’s top power forward, after reaching double figures in scoring 19 times in 23 games and recording four double-doubles.
Defending national runner-up Arizona is fifth and Washington State, coming off its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 30 seasons, is sixth. Colorado, Arizona State, USC, Utah, Washington and California complete the predicted order of finish.
The league’s media also selected the 15-member Preseason All-Conference Team, a total which mirrors the Conference’s postseason process. Oregon leads the way with four selections, Stanford has three, Arizona and Oregon State two, and Colorado, UCLA, USC and Washington State one each.
Stanford is led by Cameron Brink, Lexie Hull and Final Four Most Outstanding Player Haley Jones. Arizona is represented by Cate Reese and 2021 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year Sam Thomas, and Oregon State’s selections include Taylor Jones and 2021 All-Freshman honorable mention pick Talia von Oelhoffen.
Colorado’s Mya Hollingshed makes her debut on the preseason team and UCLA is represented by the Conference’s second-leading returning scorer in Charisma Osborne. The two most recent Pac-12 Freshmen of the Year in USC’s Alissa Pili (2020) and Washington State’s Charlisse Leger-Walker (2021) round out the All-Conference Team.
All eleven of the Pac-12’s 15 returning all-conference performers from last season are on the 2021-22 preseason list in Reese and Thomas (ARIZ), Hollingshed (COLO), Paopao, Rogers and Sabally (ORE), Taylor Jones (OSU), Hull and Haley Jones (STAN), Osborne (UCLA), and Leger-Walker (WSU).
The four openings left following the departures of WNBA Draft picks and 2021 all-conference performers Aari McDonald (ARIZ), Michaela Onyenwere (UCLA), Kiana Williams (STAN) and Aleah Goodman (OSU) are filled on the preseason list by Prince (ORE), von Oelhoffen (OSU), Brink (STAN), and Pili (USC).
In addition to honorable mention selections Gina Conti (UCLA), Dru Gylten (UTAH) and Nancy Mulkey (WASH), 13 of the league’s 17 selected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Starting 5 Watch Lists earned preseason all-conference recognition.
The 2021-22 season gets underway on Tuesday, Nov. 9 with five Conference teams in action and the league’s television schedule begins the next night at 7 p.m. PT, when No. 20 UCLA hosts Pepperdine on Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Los Angeles.
There are a pair of ranked matchups during the first week of action, as No. 22 Arizona faces off against No. 6 Louisville at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. on Friday, Nov. 12 at 1:30 p.m. PT, and No. 3 Stanford hosts No. 25 Texas on Sunday, Nov. 14 at noon PT on ESPN. Against nonconference opponents in the regular season over the past five seasons, the Pac-12 leads all leagues in winning percentage (466-114; .803) and AP Top 25 wins (151).
For the sixth consecutive year, five Pac-12 women’s basketball teams are ranked in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25 – No. 3 Stanford, No. 10 Oregon, No. 14 Oregon State, No. 20 UCLA and No. 22 Arizona. The Conference’s six-year run with at least that many teams appearing in the AP’s debut poll is the longest active streak in the nation.
2021-22 PAC-12 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
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HONORABLE MENTION (received votes from three-or-more members of the media): Kennedy Brown (OSU); Gina Conti (UCLA); Natalie Chou (UCLA); Dalayah Daniels (CAL); Dru Gylten (UTAH); Taya Hanson (ASU); Krystal Leger-Walker (WSU) Brynna Maxwell (UTAH); Nancy Mulkey (WASH); Jaylyn Sherrod (COLO); Anna Wilson (STAN).
2021-22 PAC-12 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL