clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Conference Honors: Who Should Win?

Aaron Holiday, without a doubt should be the Pac-12 Player of the Year.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After watching so much Pac-12 Basketball this year, I thought it would be fun to write up an article where I pick my winners of the following awards:

2017-18 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball All-Conference Honors

Men’s Basketball Player of the Year: Aaron Holiday, UCLA

Freshman of the Year: Deandre Ayton, Arizona

Defensive Player of the Year: Matisse Thybulle, Washington

The John R. Wooden Coach of the Year: Mike Hopkins, Washington

Player of the Year: Aaron Holiday, UCLA

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Southern California Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Quite simply the UCLA Bruins would have been in dire straits this year without Aaron Holiday. Holiday was the player that kept the Bruins in game after game, and usually carried them over the top in their wins. So in terms of the ONE player that had the biggest impact on their team during the season, without a doubt that player was Aaron Holiday which puts him over the top for Pac-12 Player of the Year recognition.

Here is where Holiday ranked in Pac-12 Conference play:

1st in PPG 21.7

1st in Min. 38.2

2nd in AST 5.9

1st in 3-point FG% .514

1st in FT’s Made 100

2nd in 3-point FG’s Made 55

Tied for 1st in 3-pointers Made Per Game 3.1

1st in FT’s Attempted 119

Holiday saved his absolute best for UCLA’s biggest game of the year Saturday night against Southern California. Holiday played 40 minutes and dropped 34 points on Southern California going 11-for-16 from the field and adding seven assists and five rebounds. Holiday all but saved the Bruins’ NCAA tourney chances and maybe even saved Steve Alford’s chance to coach his highly rated recruiting class coming in next year.

Freshman of the Year: Deandre Ayton, Arizona

NCAA Basketball: California at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Although I debated including Ayton in any of my awards after the FBI news came out, for now, Ayton seemingly is not connected and therefore is included in my awards.

As hard as it is for me to heap praise on an Arizona Wildcats player, reader beware because it is about to be heaped on Ayton heavy and strong.

Ayton was an absolute monster for the Wildcats this year. He led the Wildcats with 20.2 points per game; 11.4 rebounds per game; a .615 field goal percentage; and 2.3 blocks per game.

Ayton dominated the Pac-12 as a 19 year old freshman, and he did so in multiple ways. Ayton’s footwork, back against the basket moves, face-up game, shooting range, rebounding, and defensive capabilities were really fun to watch against all teams except UCLA. His skill set at the center position has not been seen in the Pac-12 in a long time.

Will Deandre Ayton go down as one of the best centers to play in the Pac-12 in the last 30 years? In my opinion, unequivocally yes! He was that dominat this year.

It is very easy to say Ayton should be Pac-12 Player of the Year. His season and the stats easily back up that claim, with that being said, take Ayton off of Arizona, and they are still a top Pac-12 Conference team. The same cannot be said with Holiday and UCLA.

Ayton will be the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and I am glad that UCLA will not see him any longer in Pac-12 play.

Defensive Player of the Year: Matisse Thybulle, Washington

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

This picture perfectly exemplifies what Thybulle did for the Huskies this year. He was breaking steal records, and the Huskies were only half into their season.

Thybulle led the Pac-12 in steals with 48 or 2.7 per game. His ability to steal the ball from opposing players at the rate in which he did it was simply unreal. Thybulle had the highest defensive rating of any player in the Pac-12 and also averaged 1.2 blocks per game.

John R. Wooden Coach of the Year: Mike Hopkins, Washington

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Huskies were an absolute mess last year with a 2-16 conference record, which prompted the firing of Lorenzo Romar. The Huskies also lost their top player (Markelle Fultz). The Washington Huskies were picked in the 2017-18 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Preseason Media Poll to finish 10th in the conference.

The Huskies proved everybody wrong and were a factor in the Pac-12 race from the outset, and the Huskies probably had the biggest Pac-12 non-conference win when they beat Kansas at Kansas.

I am positive there were not many that felt that Hopkins would be able to turn around the Huskies after one season, but that is exactly what he did as the Huskies finished the Pac-12 with a 10-8 record.

All-Pac-12 Teams

First Team

C Deandre Ayton Fr. Arizona

F Tres Tinkle So. Oregon State

F Reid Travis Jr. Stanford

G Aaron Holiday Jr. UCLA

G Tra Holder Sr. Arizona State

Second Team

C Thomas Welsh Sr. UCLA

G Jordan McLaughlin Sr. USC

G Allonzo Trier Jr. Arizona*

G George King Sr. Colorado

F Robert Franks Jr. Washington State

*Allonzo Trier’s suspension was an obvious factor in his placement on my teams.