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

Falling: NBA Draft outlook

The Pac-12 has one first-round lock this evening at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Arizona wing Bennedict Mathurin — he’s a likely lottery pick and could go in the top five — plus a handful of players considered potential late-round options.

Another Wildcat wing, Dalen Terry, is atop that list, followed by UCLA wing Peyton Watson, Arizona big man Christian Koloko and Colorado forward Jabari Walker.

(Two well-known players, UCLA wing Johnny Juzang and USC big man Isaiah Mobley, are not viewed as first-round material, but we’re hesitant to completely dismiss Mobley’s chances given his 6-foot-10 frame and 3-point touch.)

In other words, the conference isn’t exactly oozing high-end talent.

That existence should come as little surprise to anyone who followed the Pac-12 closely last season and must change in order for the conference to regain its position as one of the top basketball leagues in the land.

If you’re scoring at home this evening, know this:

Not since the 2010 draft, following one of the worst regular-season in eons, has the Pac-12 generated only one first-round pick (Washington’s Quincy Pondexter).

But it has been limited to two first-round selections several times in the past decade, including 2019 (Washington’s Matisse Thybulle and USC’s Kevin Porter Jr.).

Rising: Arizona’s draft outlook

Don’t be surprised if both Terry and Koloko end up joining Mathurin in the first round, giving the Wildcats three of the top 30 picks.

That would elevate Arizona into rarefied air — only Duke is guaranteed to have three first-round selections.

For all the talent on display in Tucson over the decades, the Wildcats have never produced three first-rounders in the same draft.

Two, yes. But never three.

Falling: Pac-12 quarterback recruiting

If you missed the news, allow the Hotline to serve as bearer: Coveted quarterback Jaden Rashada recently narrowed his list to five schools, and not a Pac-12 name could be found.

This is significant on two fronts:

— Rashada is from Pittsburg High School in the Bay Area and the seventh-ranked quarterback in the class of 2023, according to the 247Sports database.

Technically, he’s a four-star prospect, but plenty of elite schools would love Rashada’s signature. After eliminating Cal and Oregon last week, his short list features LSU, Texas A&M, Florida, Miami and Mississippi.

— Rashada is one of six blue-chip quarterbacks (i.e., four- or five-star rating) from the Pac-12 footprint in the class of ’23.

Two are committed to Pac-12 programs (Malachi Nelson to USC and Brayden Dorman to Arizona), while three are planning to leave the conference: Nico Iamaleava is headed to Tennessee, Pierce Clarkson to Louisville and Gabarri Johnson to Missouri.

With Rashada bound for a school across the Mississippi, the Pac-12 likely will miss on four of the six blue-chip quarterbacks within the footprint.

Rising: Title IX attention

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the landscape-changing civil rights legislation, with media outlets across the country diving into the impact Title IX has made on college sports.

(The Hotline on Wednesday published a Q&A with four industry leaders: Washington athletic director Jen Cohen, Pac-12 deputy commissioner Teresa Gould, West Coast Conference commissioner Gloria Nevarez, and Patti Phillips, the CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports.)

In our view, the timing couldn’t be better.

While powerful external forces create economic upheaval (one example: name, image and likeness), the NCAA is rewriting its constitution to give the richest schools more autonomy.

And both developments are unfolding when women’s sports have never been more popular, with impressive TV ratings for basketball and softball, plus immense social media followings for gymnasts and other athletes.

To that combination, we add the summer spotlight brought by Title IX’s golden anniversary.

It’s all an unmistakable, perhaps unprecedented, reminder of the need for equity in every crevice of college sports.


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