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Pac-12 Basketball Team Preview: Stanford Has Their Sights Set On The Big Dance This Season

The Cardinal return a veteran core that could turn heads in the Pac-12.

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford Cardinal

  • Last Season: 14-17 (6-12)
  • Head Coach: Jerod Haase (2nd Season)
  • Projected Media Poll Finish: 5th (182 Points)
  • Leading Returner In Scoring: Reid Travis (17.4 PPG)
  • Leading Returner In Rebounds: Reid Travis (8.9 RPG)
  • Leading Returner In Assists: Robert Cartwright (3.5 APG)

The Skinny

Across the Pac-12, high-level talents in programs have caused a constant reworking of rosters in the conference on an annual basis. However, in the case of Stanford heading into the 2017-2018 season, the Cardinal are one of the few groups that will actually return most of their veteran core instead of replacing it. So the question for Stanford is, will the Cardinal be able to capitalize on their experience and turn heads in the conference? Or will the youthful influx of talents to other teams simply be too much for second-year head coach Jerod Haase and company to endure?

Where Stanford may have the edge over some more inexperienced squads is that their star piece in forward Reid Travis (17.4 PPG), a former McDonald’s All-American recruit, is hopefully entering one of the healthier stretches of his career. Travis has constantly been revered as one of the league’s best interior talents, but a myriad of injuries have offset the development of his career. He’ll need to have a signature bounce-back campaign during the 2017-2018 season.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Stanford
Forward Reid Travis is a potential All-American, if he can stay healthy for Stanford.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Alongside Travis up-front, the Cardinal will have a litany of options to explore, that begins with the ever-improving Michael Humphrey (9.4 PPG) and include the likes of seven-footer Josh Sharma (3.3 PPG), as well as the freshmen duo of Kezie Okpala and Oscar Da Silva. Two more pieces that will crucial for Stanford will line-up at the wing spot, where both 6’ 5” Dorian Pickens (12.6 PPG) and Marcus Sheffield (6.7 PPG) are ready to handle a more vital role. But the question remains, is that enough to put this team over the edge in the fight for an NCAA Tournament bid?

What may end up being the difference between Stanford finding themselves in the NIT compared to the NCAA Tournament could be their guard play, which will have to take some big steps in a back-court heavy league. Rookies Daejon Davis, a consensus top-seventy recruit, and Isaac White will both have to immediately be reliable contributors to compensate for the departure of transfer guard Malcolm Allen (Northern Arizona), while Robert Cartwright (6.7 PPG) will need to continue to develop. The Cardinal want to return to the big dance for the first time since 2014 and they may just have the roster in tow to accomplish such a feat.


Player To Know: Dorian Pickens (SR)

While most of the focus around the Cardinal is centered around potential All-American forward Reid Travis (and rightfully so), the fact of the matter is that Stanford also has a legitimate all-league, veteran option at their disposal as well, in the versatile Dorian Pickens. At 6’ 5”, 215 pounds, Pickens is somewhat of a position-less talent for the Cardinal, who both handles the defensive emphasis of occasionally guarding the opponent’s best offensive player, while also being a steady “stat-sheet-stuffer”. Pickens ability to keep any unit cohesive, as well as provide some much-needed leadership, could be a huge factor in what side of the bubble Stanford falls on during Selection Sunday.

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Stanford
Dorian Pickens could be referred to as the “x-factor” for the Cardinal.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Key Non-Conference Games

  • 11/20 v. North Carolina
  • 11/23 v. Florida* (PK80 Invitational)
  • 12/21 v. Kansas*