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November 22, 2006

Pac-10 bringing in star power

As if Los Angeles needed more star power.

Two of the top players in the class of 2007 will rest their heads in the City of Angels next year. One is looking to market himself for the next level and one is looking to join a long line of some of college basketball's most respected players.

O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love may have different motives, but they're heading to the same city with hopes of reaching their goals.

Pac-10 rank
1. Southern Cal
2. Arizona
4. Washington
5. Arizona State
6. Oregon
7. California
8. Oregon State
9. Stanford
10. Wash. State
Right now, Mayo is giant fish in the small pond of Huntington, W.Va. In less than a year, Mayo will be in an ocean of people at Southern Cal. As one of the millions of people in L.A. waiting for their big break, he will be handed the ball and asked to put USC basketball on the map.

Love said he picked UCLA because of the school's undeniable tradition and history of outstanding big men. The Lake Oswego, Ore., native has a skill set that will likely be featured the minute he steps foot in Westwood.

Who will be the king of Los Angeles? Buckle up, that will be a fun back-and-forth rivalry to watch.

The two five-star prospects are not the only big-time players coming to the Pac-10. That is why the conference checks in at No. 2 in our class of 2007 conference ratings after the early signing period.

The state of Arizona will play host to two of the top guards in the country for as long as they want to stay. The Arizona Wildcats locked up in-state prospect Jerryd Bayless and watched him de-commit, re-commit and finally sign. The athletic guard headlines the Wildcats' top-five national class.

Best of the Pac-10
Best perimeter scorer: Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
Best low post scorer: Kevin Love, UCLA
Best passer: Kevin Love, UCLA
Best shooter: James Harden, Arizona State
Best rebounder: Kevin Love, UCLA
Best shot-blocker: Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Wash.
Best defender: Jamelle McMillan, Arizona State
Most versatile: Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
Best in the clutch: O.J. Mayo, USC
Best basketball IQ: James Harden, Arizona State
Best pro prospect: O.J. Mayo, USC
Best interview: Kevin Love, UCLA
Best speed: Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
Best hands: Kevin Love, UCLA
Best motor: Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Wash.
Best strength: Leonard Washington, USC
Best leaper: Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
Impact player: Kevin Love, UCLA
Biggest sleeper: Justin Holiday, Washington
Just down the road, Herb Sendek and company locked up their first major recruit in California guard James Harden, who might be the most efficient scoring guard in the country.

Star power is coming to the Pac-10. Get used to that.

Jerry Meyer's take: USC brings in two high-impact players with elite prospects O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson. ... Lute Olson continues to recruit well as he lands Arizona's best in Jerryd Bayless. ... Kevin Love gives UCLA a presence in the post that the Bruins hope will result in a national championship. Lorenzo Romar continues his recruiting momentum with a strong class led by mobile big man Matthew Bryan-Amaning. ... Coach Herb Sendek gets off to a strong start recruiting in the Pac-10 with a top 25 recruiting class.

Justin Young's take: There is some serious star power coming into the conference with this class. Kevin Love, Jerryd Bayless, O.J. Mayo and James Harden all have Player of the Year potential in college. Drew Viney was a major coup for Oregon. He originally committed to Cal, but elected to play with best friend Kamyron Brown. If Spencer Hawes stays around for another year, Washington will have the best front line in the Pac-10 with Hawes, Bryan-Amaning and Jon Brockman.

Biggest story of the recruiting period: There are plenty to choose from, but O.J. Mayo inking with USC in the early period was a big a surprise. It looked as if he would take his time to make it official for Tim Floyd. Now the Trojans are getting it done in both football and basketball.

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