The Pac-10 coaches and media alike don't give the Cardinal (7-11 in the Pac-10 last year, 14-18 overall) much respect in terms of predictions. Both groups have Stanford finishing ninth.
Jeremy Green, who set the school record with 93 3-pointers last year, is the most experienced of the junior class, which also features a former walk-on, a transfer and a guy who missed last season with an undisclosed medical condition.
"It's kind of unusual to have a team without seniors," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "We have high expectations for ourselves. We'll go out and compete and get better. We have enough veteran leadership to carry us."
Josh Owens, the last player connected to the Trent Johnson era, missed a year with a mysterious (just to the curious among us I suppose) ailment that threatened his future in basketball.
"There was some uncertainty whether he could continue his career," Dawkins said. "He was able to work out during the summer and that was a good start for him. He's working his way back."
If Wednesday night's 87-56 exhibition win over Cal State Monterey Bay is any indication, Owens looks ready to take on the Division I players of the world. The 6-foot-8 post player recorded 16 points and 11 rebounds — just about what Dawkins would like to see from him.
"I try to keep it in perspective, but yes, it was tough," Owens said. "I had high expectations for myself and the team. Having that cut short was disappointing. I stayed optimistic about working to get back. I think it will come quickly."
Green scored 26 points, and that's about where he has to stay for the Cardinal to cause any damage in the talent-rich Pac-10 Conference this season.
The other juniors — 6-4 point guard Jarrett Mann, hard-working 6-9 center Jack Trotter, who began his career as a walk-on, and 6-8 transfer Andrew Zimmerman — were prominent players with the Cardinal last year and will serve as role players and leaders in mentoring one of the most talented freshmen classes to find their way to Stanford.
Sophomore Gabe Harris (6-2, 190) signed during the same period as Zimmerman, who transferred from Santa Clara.
Seven of the newcomers are on scholarship, including Andy Brown, who will sit out yet another season due to an ACL tear in his left knee, the third time the same knee has sustained a torn ACL and has forced him off the basketball court for most of two years.
"That is one of the more unfortunate things I've ever seen in this sport," Dawkins said. "With a rehab as hard as his, he still has the desire to recover as best he can. We're hoping this is the time he will come back and be part of the group."
The highly-rated class also includes Aaron Bright, a 5-11, 175-pound guard from Bellevue, Wash., Anthony Brown, a 6-7, 190-pound swingman from Huntington Beach, John Gage, a 6-10, 210-pound post from Vashon Island, Wash., Josh Huestis, a 6-8, 210-pound forward from Great Falls, Mont., and Dwight Powell, a 6-10, 215-pound forward from Bradenton, Fla.
Canadian Stefan Nastic (6-9, 225) was signed during the spring. Chris Barnum (6-1, 175) and Robbie Lemons (6-3, 190) are the walk-ons.
"Last year we had to bring in people from the football team just to be able to practice. Now we have enough depth," Green said. "Based on what I've read, no one is giving us a chance. But we know what we have. I feel like all the freshmen will contribute."
Anthony Brown started alongside Green, Mann (9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists), Zimmerman and Owens but Powell (10 points) and Huestis each played nearly half the game. Bright and Nastic each played more than 10 minutes.
"Depth, that's the part I'm most excited about," Dawkins said. "There's enough where you know every day is going to be competitive."