The Pac 12 was a tough conference this year with loads of talent and a lot of teams fighting for NCAA Tournament bids. There were several teams that had players receive PAC 12 honors, but UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona seemed to shine the brightest among the pack this year. The PAC-12 Awards were tightly contested among each player and team. It will be the perfect warmup for March Madness.
Pac 12 Awards:
Pac 12 Conference Player of the Year
Many analysts predicted either Payton Pritchard, Nico Mannion or Isaiah Stewart to win player of the year in the Pac- 12. Pritchard, the senior was able to hold off the freshmen sensations. Pritchard is a national player of the year award candidate and led the Ducks to their third Pac-12 regular-season title in five seasons. He led the league in both scoring (20.5 ppg) and assists (5.6 apg).
Coach of the Year
In his first season under the helm in Westwood, Cronin lead the Bruins to a second-place finish in the Pac-12 regular season. After some early-season losses, UCLA was able to right the ship and win 7 games in a row late before having their win streak snapped. Many predicted UCLA to be in rebuild mode, but Cronin was able to squeeze out every ounce of talent from the inherited Bruins team. The turnaround that he completed is nothing short of remarkable.
Defensive Player of the Year
Tyler Bey with the help-side rotation and big block pic.twitter.com/V1mzaJ8T46
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 14, 2020
Bey led the league in rebounding (9.0 rpg), ranks fifth in steals (1.53 spg) and is tied for sixth in blocked shots (1.2 bpg). Bey is a contender for the Naismith Trophy Defensive Player of the Year. The motor that Bey displayed this year had fed the Buffs to a potential NCAA Tourney bid and a national ranking at one point in the season.
Freshman of the Year
The Hopkins, Minn., native is on the top-10 watch list for the Karl Malone Award given to the nation’s best power forward. Nnaji is averaging team bests of 16.3 points on 57.3 percent shooting and 8.6 rebounds. Nnaji was able to shine in a loaded recruiting class not just at Arizona but also in the Pac-12.
Sixth Man of the Year
Alonzo Verge Jr.
This sequence is an apt descriptor of just how crazy things have been in Tempe tonight.
Remy Martin loses the ball, only to block it back to Alonzo Verge Jr. who finishes the contested layup on the other end. Exceptional stuff from two key ASU contributors. pic.twitter.com/LkPuPYsX8N
— Jacob Rosenfarb (@jacobrosenfarb) February 21, 2020
Verge Jr. was the only reserve to rank among the league leaders in scoring (14th, 14.6 ppg). He averaged an NCAA Division I-leading 16.8 points in 19 games off the bench.
Most Improved Player
Smith was the leading scorer (13.1 ppg) for league runner-up UCLA. He doubled his scoring average from a season ago (6.3 ppg in 2018-19) and averaged 14.6 points on 46.8 percent shooting and 6.1 rebounds in Conference action. Smith along with Tyger Campbell help UCLA shake off a tough start and is now in the conversation for the NCAA Tournament.
All-PAC 12 First Team
- Oscar da Silva, F (Stanford)
- CJ Elleby, F (Washington State)
- Remy Martin, G (Arizona State)
- Zeke Nnaji, F (Arizona)
- Onyeka Okongwu, F (USC)
- Payton Pritchard, G (Oregon)
- Chris Smith, G (UCLA)
- Isaiah Stewart, F (Washington)
- Payton Pritchard, G (Oregon)
- Tres Tinkle, F (Oregon St.)
- McKinley Wright IV, G (Colorado)