We’re counting down the end of the Pac-12 season with a daily look at each of the postseason awards. Today: Freshman of the Year
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Aaron Gordon, Arizona: During a preseason poll at Pac-12 Media Day in October, 10 of the 12 coaches who responded picked Gordon to win the conference’s Freshman of the Year award. The former McDonald’s all-American entered the league with tremendous hype and fanfare. The five-star prospect was ranked the No. 4 overall recruit by ESPN and regarded as one of the top freshmen.
At times he struggled offensively – especially at the free throw line – but Gordon is one of the biggest reasons why Arizona (28-2, 15-2) obliterated the Pac-12 en route to a regular-season title and remains in contention for a No. 1 overall seed in for the NCAA tournament.
You could argue the 6-9 forward has the most talent of anyone at Arizona. And maybe he’s the Wildcats’ second-best player after junior guard Nick Johnson. They’re the only Arizona players who have started every game.
Gordon is first among Pac-12 freshmen in rebounding average (7.8), second in scoring (12.0), second in field percentage (49.0), third in blocks (0.8), sixth in assists (1.5) and tied for seventh in steals (0.7). His eight double doubles lead all Pac-12 freshmen.
The conference’s freshman of the year race was supposed to be a one-man derby, but Washington’s Nigel Williams-Goss deserves serious consideration. Statistically he had a better season than Gordon. Williams-Goss leads Pac-12 freshmen in scoring average (13.4), assists (4.1), steals (1.1) and minutes (33.2). He’s fourth in rebounding (4.4). Williams-Goss is one of three UW players who has started all 29 games. And Williams-Goss set a couple of school records for a freshman including the most points in a game (32) and assists (10).
Still Gordon gets the nod in a race that was closer than many expected.