By Jeff Goodman
The Pac-12 - or whatever the league will wind up being called at the end of this re-alignment fiasco - is back.
Well, not quite yet.
But it will be.
When Kyle Anderson opted to travel 3,000 or so miles away and chose UCLA on Monday night, it not only signified that Ben Howland and the Bruins will return to national relevancy.
But also the the league on the west coast, the one that has been college hoops' whipping boy over the last few years, will have its flagship programs - UCLA and Arizona - back.
UCLA can win a national title in 2012-13.
Arizona can win the national title in 2012-13.
Washington can also contend for the Final Four in 2012-13.
That's three elite-level teams.
Obviously, things need to fall into place.
Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 player in the country, committing to the Bruins put them squarely in the national championship picture. But even if he doesn't show up, Howland still could trot out a powerful group that includes a frontline of Josh Smith, Reeves Nelson and the Wear Twins - with Anderson, point guard Dominic Artis, Tyler Lamb and Jordan Adams on the perimeter.
That's pending Nelson and Smith don't leave after this year.
Arizona coach Sean Miller has stockpiled two consecutive recruiting classes to the point that he's also got Arizona to where the Wildcats will considered an elite team a year from now. This year's group is led by guards Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson while he'll add two of the top big men in the nation in 2012: Brandon Ashley and Grant Jarrett. Arizona is also in a battle with Kansas for talented 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski.
Then you've got Washington. Lorenzo Romar's starting unit could look like this in 2012-13: Senior point guard Abdul Gaddy, junior wings Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox, talented sophomore Tony Wroten and senior big man Aziz N'Diaye.
There hasn't been much reason lately to watch west coast basketball. Sure, Arizona went to the Elite Eight last year - but the Wildcats overachieved. The only times I went out were to see The Jimmer and/or San Diego State.
The last time I was in Pauley Pavilion was when Lute Olson was roaming the opposing sideline. It seems like an eternity ago.
My guess is I'll be there again in 2012 - and it won't be my only Pac-12 destination, either.