We’re counting down the end of the Pac-12 season with a daily look at each of the postseason awards. Today: Player of the Year
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Nick Johnson, Arizona: Not only is he the best player on the Pac-12’s best team, the 6-3 junior guard is arguably the most versatile, the most productive and the most athletic player in the conference.
He’s a shoe-in to win the league’s MVP award, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Johnson waked away the Defensive player of the Year trophy as well. And you can make an argument he deserve consideration in the Most Improved voting as well.
Johnson led Arizona with a 16.1 scoring average that ranked eighth in the Pac-12. He scored at least 20 points in 10 games and shot 51.7 percent in those contest. His 500 points are the third highest in a single season under coach Sean Miller. Johnson also shot 43.9 percent from the field. The Wildcats are 23-0 when he shoots 40 percent or better.
He shoots 34.8 percent on three-pointers and 76.6 percent on three-pointers.
Defensively, Johnson is the heart and soul of a team ranked sixth nationally allowing 58.7 points per game. He’s quick enough to defend smaller players and his 52-inch vertical leap allows him to defend bigger players. He’s averaging 1.5 steals in Pac-12 play, which ranks seventh in the conference. He 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 is a Naismith Trophy semifinalist.
UCLA sophomore Kyle Anderson and Arizona State’s Jahii Carson deserves consideration, but neither has been as consistent or as productive as Johnson.