We’re counting down the end of the Pac-12 season with a daily look at each of the postseason awards. Today: All-Defensive team
Jordan Bachynski, Sr. Arizona State: The 7-2 center has turned shot blocking into an art form. He leads the nation with 123 blocks (4.2 pg). In the first three seasons of his career (89 games), he averaged 6.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.03 blocks. This season he is at 11.2 ppg., 8.4 rpg and 4.2 bpg. Jordan has a double-double in 11 games, after entering the season with five (89 games). With 304 career blocks he is now the Pac-12 record holder, topping Anthony Cook of Arizona (278 from 1985-89). His 123 blocks this season broke break his Pac-12 season record he set last year.
Eric Moreland, Jr. Oregon State: The extraordinary thing about the 6-10 forward is he can defend every position. He’s the Beavers career leader with 176 blocks, breaking the Scott Haskin’s record of 172. Moreland is third in the Pac-12 in rebounding (9.5) and tied for third in blocked shots (1.9) in league games. He’s sixth on Oregon State’s all-time rebounding list with 700. Suspended for the first 12 games for a violation of team rules.
Delon Wright, Jr., Utah: In his first year with the Utes, the 6-5 junior-college transfer ranks second in the Pac-12 in steals per game (2.61), sixth in blocks (1.43) and 12th in rebounds (6.8). No other player ranks as high in conference in those categories. Wright has had at least three blocks in three of the past four games.
Nick Johnson, Jr., Arizona: The Wildcats rank fifth nationally allowing just 58.2 points per game. You can make an argument for all five Arizona starters, but Johnson gets the nod. The 6-3 guard averages just 0.6 blocks per game, but when he makes a rejection it’s usually highlight worthy. He’s very good at chasing opponents from behind and making rundown blocks. Johnson also averages 1.1 steals.
Josh Huestis, Sr., Stanford: Statistically Huestis took a step backwards in several categories, but along with Bachynski they’re the the only players who made the all-defensive team last year. The 6-7 senior forward is fifth in the conference in rebounding (8.5) and third in blocks (2.04). Huestis has 178 career blocks, which ranks first at Stanford and breaks Tim Young’s record of 167.
Others considered: California’s Tyrone Wallace, Stanford’s Anthony Brown, Arizona State’s Shaquielle McKissic, Colorado’s Wesley Gordon and Arizona’s other four starters.
Comment: Easily the most subjective of the postseason awards. Playing defense was much more difficult this season after the NCAA implemented rules negating hand-checking and allowing freer movement for offensive players in an effort to increase scoring. The rule changes partly explains why the officiating was spotty this season, especially in the Pac-12, which doesn’t have a stellar reputation in terms of its referees. Even with the rules titled to favor the offense, a few players were able to distinguish themselves on the defensive end.