Arizona is clearly the superior team, and the Wildcats reap the big honors in my reckoning for Pac-12 basketball awards, 2013-14. The official league honors are expected to be announced Monday.
I went with Nick Johnson of the Wildcats over Kyle Anderson of UCLA for player of the year, breaking what was pretty close to a tie with the season-long prominence of Arizona and Johnson’s part in it.
Sean Miller of Arizona gets my coach-of-the-year vote, but you could make a pretty good case for Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak, who has made Utah a force again.
I gave ‘Zona’s Aaron Gordon the Pac-12 freshman-of-the-year title, with a lot of thought given to Washington’s Nigel Williams-Goss. NWG has had a really terrific season, and has seemingly managed to avoid hitting a late wall despite playing heavy minutes. Again, the stature of the team tilted me toward Gordon.
Two guys I struggled with leaving off my top three teams: Arizona State’s Jahii Carson and Oregon’s Joseph Young.
Ultimately, in my view, those two third-team spots went to Askia Booker of Colorado and Justin Cobbs of Cal in a close nod. Booker was pivotal to CU as it tried to right the ship without Spencer Dinwiddie, and Cobbs had good scoring numbers, was second in the league in assists, and hit the difficult shot that took out Arizona for the first time Feb. 1.
The picks reflect the perimeter-oriented nature of the league this year. But my philosophy is to have at least one big player (and I thought these guys were all deserving), much as any college basketball team would have.
Kyle Anderson, UCLA. Most versatile player in years in the Pac-12.
Nick Johnson, Arizona. Heart and soul of the best team.
Delon Wright, Utah. Dynamite player propelled Utes’ improvement.
Chasson Randle, Stanford. Driving, shooting makes him a tough guard.
Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State. Improvement has been off the charts.
Dwight Powell, Stanford. Still, always leaves you thinking there’s more.
Jordan Adams, UCLA. 18-ppg scorer strafed Huskies for 31.
Aaron Gordon, Arizona. Needs more offense, but what a force.
T.J. McConnell, Arizona. Assists, steals and a lot of direction.
Josh Scott, Colorado. 14-and-8 guy one of few quality big men.
C.J. Wilcox, Washington. Best pure shooter in the conference.
Roberto Nelson, Oregon State. League scoring champ not a great defender.
Mike Moser, Oregon. With 13-and-8 contribution, third school was a charm.
Askia Booker, Colorado. Was a key for Buffs without Dinwiddie.
Justin Cobbs, Cal. Second in assists and a 17-ppg scorer.
Player of the year – Nick Johnson, Arizona.
Coach of the year – Sean Miller, Arizona.
Freshman of the year – Aaron Gordon, Arizona.
Defensive player of the year – Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State.