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Pac-12 update: Charisma Osborne, Charlisse Leger-Walker off to hot starts

In the Pac-12, Charisma Osborne of the UCLA Bruins is second in scoring and first in rebounding, while Charlisse Leger-Walker of the Washington State Cougars is first in scoring and tied for third in distributing.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo at UCLA
Charisma Osborne (with ball) is projected to go fifth overall in ESPN’s 2023 WNBA mock draft.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the season officially underway and teams already playing a handful of games, it’s never too early to look at how Pac-12 teams are performing before the start of conference play. Many things will change and so much is unknown, but one thing seems pretty straightforward: Stanford is the cream of the crop in the Pac-12.

1) No. 2 Stanford Cardinal (4-0)

Stanford is 4-0 and has blown out every opponent. Cameron Brink leads the NCAA in blocks and Kiki Iriafen is having a sophomore jump, averaging 12.4 points and 4.5 rebounds. The Cardinal are picking up where they left off and seem to be the team to beat in the Pac-12.

2) No. 19 Arizona Wildcats (2-0)

With two wins in two games, the Wildcats are a force to be reckoned with. Like Stanford, they’ve won their games by huge margins. Cate Reese is starting her final season averaging 12 points and grabbing six boards a game. Arizona has a great chance to stay unbeaten through November, given that they play no Top 25 teams until mid-December.

3) No. 21 Oregon Ducks (3-0)

The final ranked team in the Pac-12 is the Oregon Ducks and they have remained unbeaten just like their peers. They have a balanced attack with multiple players sharing the load. Grace VanSlooten is leading the team in points and rebounds, Te-Hina Paopao is averaging the most minutes and Phillipina Kyei is cleaning up the glass. These numbers will likely change as the season continues, but Oregon seems like a complete and well-balanced team so far.

4) UCLA Bruins (3-0)

The Bruins have taken care of a couple of California foes and the Troy Trojans to start the season. Charisma Osborne has been the star of the team with 20.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. The winning streak will be tested soon, with a game against No. 1 South Carolina coming up on Nov. 29. We’ll know much more about how good UCLA is after that.

5) Utah Utes (3-0)

So far, so good for the Utes. They are unbeaten and about to face off against No. 16 Oklahoma on Wednesday. Gianna Kneepkens is a player to watch — she has not leaped yet this season, but I think she has the potential for a breakout year. It would be good for Utah if that breakout game happens on Wednesday.

6) Oregon State Beavers (2-0)

Two up, two down for the Beavers, and Talia von Oelhoffen, an All-Pac-12 player, picked up right where she left off last year. She’s leading the team in points, assists, and steals. It’s unknown how far Oregon State can go, but it will be fun watching von Oelhoffen maximize this team’s potential.

7) Washington State Cougars (3-0)

They had a scare against San Fransisco, but the Cougars have started unbeaten. Charlisse Leger-Walker was one of our players to watch in the Pac-12 and she has lived up to the hype. She’s averaging 25 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists. She’s not just a great player for the Cougars — she’s one of the best players in college basketball.

8) Colorado Buffaloes (3-0)

So far, so good for Colorado. The Buffaloes have faced some mid-majors and have come out on top. A big challenge comes the day after Thanksgiving when they face No. 11 Tennessee.

9) USC Trojans (3-0)

San Diego State pushed USC to the limit, but the Trojans kept their unbeaten streak alive, winning by eight. Destiny Littleton has been an absolute bucket for the Trojans, scoring 16 points a game in her 27.5 minutes of play. The team’s record looks good right now, but the highlight of the season so far has to be Juju Watkins committing to USC next season. With a solid roster and a star recruit joining the team next year, things are looking up in Southern California.

10) Washington Huskies (2-0)

The Huskies squeaked out a narrow victory in the season opener and won comfortably against UC Davis. They’ll stay in California for one more game playing UC Irvine on Thursday.

11) California Golden Bears (1-1)

The first Pac-12 team to take a loss was Cal, but they did so by losing to No. 8 Notre Dame in a valiant effort, 90-79. Cal has looked better than the preseason projections had them ranked. We’ll see if they can rack up some more wins before the start of conference play.

12) Arizona State Sun Devils (3-0)

The Sun Devils have won their first three games and Jaddan Simmons is a big reason why. She’s leading the team in points, minutes, steals, and blocks. The Pac-12 is very competitive and someone has to be at the bottom, but Arizona State doesn’t look like a team that will be easy to beat.

The year may be young, but time moves fast. November has some tough matchups for select teams and once conference play starts, there will be no avoiding the big games. For now, Pac-12 teams will try to rack up these non-conference wins, stay healthy and figure out their rotations. We’ll better understand the Pac-12 picture in the coming weeks and months.