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Picking the All-Pac-12, season awards

McKinley Wright for everything.

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Colorado Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 regular season concluded on Sunday, with your Colorado Buffaloes finishing third place behind Oregon and USC. There’s a chance the Ducks and Trojans dominate the post-season awards, as Evan Mobley, Chris Duarte and others will be honored for team success. But the Buffs will be well represented as well, surely by McKinley Wright, maybe more.

Player of the Year

1. McKinley Wright, Colorado
2. Evan Mobley, USC
3. Oscar da Silva, Stanford

In a longer article you can read here, I argued that the Buffs’ guard had the best season of any player in the Pac-12. That’s kind of true, kind of not true, depending on how you feel about Evan Mobley. Both players were essential to their team’s success in different ways that are difficult to compare. I tend to favor guards over big men, mostly because guards control more of the game. I’m also incredibly biased and want Wright to win the award. The justification is that both have equally incredible seasons, and that if you want to choose tie-breakers, Wright had the better career and was better than Mobley in big games.

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Evan Mobley, USC
2. Jaime Jaquez, UCLA
3. Eli Parquet, Colorado

There’s little to no chance Mobley loses this award. He’s the centerpiece of the best defense in the Pac-12. Andy Enfield has a good defensive scheme and they have size and athleticism all over the floor, but it doesn’t work without Mobley in the middle. Their team defense is aggressive on the perimeter and they funnel players into the paint because Mobley is there to block shots and force misses. They allow the third lowest 2P% in the nation because of that defensive scheme formed around their freshman center.

Freshman of the Year

1. Evan Mobley, USC
2. Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona
3. Efe Abogidi, Washingon State

This will be a unanimous vote for Mobley, so I’ll focus on the other freshmen. For one, most people would have expected Arizona State’s Josh Christopher or Marcus Bagley to be here, but the Sun Devils had a terrible season. ASU fans would claim they were beset by injuries and pauses, but this was a poorly constructed team that had a whole lot of chuckers, but no playmakers, team players or good defenders. Besides, they were outplayed by Bennedict Mathurin. He was used as a 6th man despite being the Cats’ second best player. The other eleven coaches in the Pac-12 are hoping the Canadian leaves for the NBA, because they’re in trouble if Sean Miller’s replacement finds a way to keep him in Tucson.

Newcomer of the Year*

1. Eugene Omoruyi, Oregon
2. Jeriah Horne, Colorado
3. Tahj Eaddy, USC

The first appearance of any Oregon players are here for the award dedicated to transfers. There’s an argument that Omoruyi is a better player than Chris Duarte, who has major buzz for POY, so he’s an easy decision for this award. Huge, athletic and very skilled, Omoruyi is such a good scorer than you almost forget how much he flops. He’s been much more productive than Horne, who deserves credit for being CU’s second best player and the most efficient scorer in the conference.

*The Pac-12 might not even have this award, but it works because I have no idea who should be Most Improved Player.

Coach of the Year

1. Tad Boyle, Colorado
2. Mick Cronin, UCLA
3. Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State

This award will probably be won by Dana Altman because the Ducks won 10 of their final 11 games to win the Pac-12. However, we here at Ralphie Report dot com do not like Altman, and therefore will not give him credit for paying players to transfer to Eugene.

Boyle could win the award because his Buffs exceeded expectations, finishing 3rd after being picked 7th (!!!) in the preseason media poll. That said, Wright will get much of the credit, and CU fans themselves will blame Tad for damaging losses to Washington, Utah and Cal. (That really does suck, though, because if CU wins two of those, they’re Pac-12 champs.)

Mick Cronin might win his second COY in his second year in the Pac-12. Last year, the Bruins looked completely lost, but the players bought in and came within a game of winning the conference. They were picked to finish 1st in the preseason poll, but that was before Chris Smith tore his ACL. Credit is due for them staying strong and being as good as they are, even if their ceiling is capped without their leading scorer.

First Team All-Pac-12

G — McKinley Wright, Colorado
G — Chris Duarte, Oregon
G/F — Jaime Jaquez, UCLA
F — Evan Mobley, USC
F — Oscar da Silva, Stanford

Of the five spots here, four of them are no-brainers. All of Wright, Mobley and Duarte will have votes for POY, while da Silva would deserve it if Stanford was better and he had stayed healthy. My final spot goes to Jaquez, my favorite non-CU player in the Pac-12.

He’s an elite defender as a 3/4 combo forward. His help defense and versality unlocks a lot of what UCLA does on that end. It seems like UCLA is most dangerous when he’s free roaming, because he can cut off driving lanes, intercept passes and block shots at the rim. That’s all on top of being an unselfish and efficient offensive player. God, I wish he was on the Buffs.

Second Team All-Pac-12

G — Tyger Campbell, UCLA
G — Ethan Thompson, Oregon State
G — James Akinjo, Arizona
G/F — Timmy Allen, Utah
F — Eugene Omoruyi, Oregon

Campbell and Thompson are criminally underrated as game managers and defenders. Somehow, Thompson has never made an All-Pac-12, but that will change in his senior season. Omoruyi is the best player here, and might deserve first team over Jaquez. Timmy Allen, meanwhile, is only here because I need another forward, and there wasn’t anyone better.

Third Team All-Pac-12

G — Isaac Bonton, Washington State
G — Remy Martin, Arizona State
G — Tahj Eaddy, USC
F — Jeriah Horne, Colorado
F — Noah Williams, Washington State

Remy Martin led the Pac-12 in scoring, but he was chucking a lot of shots, and was not efficient. His team playmaking was nonexistent, which is a big part of why Arizona State struggled (it’s not Remy’s fault Bobby Hurley surrounded him with scorers instead of team players). Tahj Eaddy probably deserves to be second team, but that’s too many guards. Johnny Juzang deserves third team over Noah Williams, but again, we need more forwards.

All-Defense

G — Eli Parquet, Colorado
G — Chris Duarte, Oregon
G/F — Jaime Jaquez, UCLA
F — Evan Mobley, USC
F — Oscar da Silva, Stanford

From the previous DPOY ballot, Mobley, Jaquez and Parquet are all easy choices here. Parquet may not end up on the team, however, because his reputation is not on the same level as the others; on the other hand, a reputation has to be built somewhere, and it looks like Parquet will be an even better defender next year and maybe the year after.

Da Silva and Duarte are just as easy to pick on this team. Da Silva is the best positional defender in the Pac-12, looking like 37-year-old Tim Duncan (same athleticism) in the middle of Stanford’s defense. Duarte causes a ton of turnovers in Oregon’s press defense, which is just great because they can only score consistently on the fast break.

All-Freshman

G — Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona
G — Josh Christopher, Arizona State
F — Evan Mobley, USC
F — Azuolas Tubelis, Arizona
F — Efe Abogidi, Washington State

Of the players I haven’t discussed yet, Efe Abogidi had the best season but is the most underrated. Wazzu is turning a corner as a program and Abogidi is going to be a terrific interior presence on their rise. Tubelis was highly touted out of Lithuania and was as good as expected, even if Evan Battey could throw him out of bounds with one hand. Josh Christopher, meanwhile, tried his best during ASU’s lost season, and that’s enough considering no freshmen guards were better than him.