DX Indvividual Awards: Pac-10

DX Indvividual Awards: Pac-10
Mar 07, 2007, 06:03 pm
Big 10 Postseason Honors
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ACC Postseason Honors
SEC Postseason Honors

Player of the Year: Arron Afflalo, 6’5 , SG, UCLA


No conference had as many worthy POY candidates as the Pac-10, with every First Team All Pac-10 member capable of making a legitimate argument for why they deserve the honors. In the end, nobody stood out from the crowd a substantial amount, so the award goes to the best player on the best team. Despite fading a bit down the stretch, this was the season that Arron Afflalo developed into a true star. He made no drastic improvement in a single area, but shot the ball more consistently, scored more efficiently, defended at an elite level and hit clutch shots all year long. Now Afflalo has the chance to become a true college legend and lock up a spot in the first round of the upcoming draft by leading UCLA to its first national championship since the O’Bannon era.

Freshman of the Year: Brook Lopez, 7’0, C, Stanford

Freshman hype was everywhere in the Pac-10 early in the season, with Chase Buddinger and Spencer Hawes so highly touted and players like Ryan Anderson, Quincy Pondexter and Taj Gibson playing well beyond their years. But it was the newcomer everybody forgot about that emerged as a fairly cut and dry choice for Pac-10 FOY. Brook Lopez’s overall numbers weren’t quite as gaudy as several of the other candidates’, but in conference he stacked up to just about anybody. Lopez scored 20 or more in 7 of Stanford’s last 10 games and put the entire country on notice with an 18 point, 11 rebound, 12 block triple double in a blowout win over USC. Of course, stats don’t tell the entire story when it comes to Lopez’s impact on the game. He is an excellent positional defender, and it is his emergence as a Pac-10 star that has Stanford in the NCAA Tournament.

Defensive Player of the Year: Darren Collison, UCLA

It is hard to believe that point guard was actually UCLA’s biggest question mark coming into the year. Collison not only replaced Jordan Farmar’s floor general presence, but almost immediately surpassed his predecessor. The lightning quick and tough as nails Collison is a better fit for Ben Howland’s system, setting the tone with his ability to pressure the ball in the halfcourt and quickly convert opposing turnovers into made baskets. It is hard to deny Washington State’s Kyle Weaver here, but Collison’s season was truly a landmark one.

Coach of the Year: Tony Bennett, Washington State

This could have been called a two horse race most of the year, but that would have been generous to Tim Floyd, and the Trojans slipped back to the middle of the pack at the end of conference play. Bennett and the success of the Cougars might be the biggest success story anywhere 2006-2007. Without a single Top 100 recruit on the roster, he took the Cougars to the top of a league that was as tough as it has been in years. This is yet another reminder that inferior overall talent can be made up for by the right mix of talent. Weaver and Derrick Low are the perfect backcourt couple, while specialists like Daven Harmeling and Aron Baynes are in perfect situations. Bennett’s father Dick paved the way for Bo Ryan’s success at Wisconsin. Could he have initiated a similar long-term turnaround at Washington State?

Draft Prospect of the Year: Darren Collison, 6’1, PG, Sophomore, UCLA

Collison’s unexpected emergence as an All-America candidate has already been discussed above. His scintillating play has also resulted in a bump for his draft stock. Collison is a bit small at the next level, but his physicality, intensity and pure speed make him a likely first rounder whenever he wants to declare.

1st Team All-Conference:


Darren Collison, 6-1, Sophomore, PG, UCLA
Aaron Brooks, 6-0, Senior, PG, Oregon
Kyle Weaver, 6-5, Senior, PG, Washington State
Arron Afflalo, 6-5, Junior, SG, UCLA
Nick Young, 6-6, Junior, SG, USC

If there is a player that was somewhat cheated in terms of the above individual awards, it would have to be USC swingman Nick Young. The much-improved junior was probably second in line for Pac-10 Player of the Year and Draft Prospect of the Year. Young has emerged as a legitimate go-to scorer, and is shooting the ball much more consistently than he did a year ago. Aaron Brooks bounced back after a disastrous junior campaign, hitting a couple of game winning shots that will make highlight reels for years to come. Brooks was probably the favorite to win Pac-10 POY at the midway point before the Ducks hit their slump. It would be foolish to exclude Weaver from any list of the top players in the Pac-10, even if he wasn’t a household name to start the year. The fact that he contributed in virtually every statistical category, notching one triple double and flirting with several more, is only secondary to the lock-down defense he played on a nightly basis.

2nd Team All-Conference:

Marcus Williams, 6’8, Sophomore, SF, Arizona
Lawrence Hill, 6’10, Sophomore, SF/PF, Stanford
Maarty Leunen, 6’9, Junior, PF, Oregon
Ivan Radenovic, 6’10, Senior, PF, Arizona
Brook Lopez, 7’0, Freshman, C, Stanford

Radenovic is probably the most slighted of the second teamers. He didn’t always score at an elite level, but was one of the few Wildcats content to play within the team concept. On occasion, he used his phenomenal feel for the game and ever-improving jumper to dominate like no other big man in the Pac-10. Williams is probably NBA bound, which is a shame because he probably would have been the league’s premier player in 2007-2008. Much like Radenovic, Leunen was the perfect complimentary big man in a backcourt-heavy system. Oregon would be sitting at the bottom of the standings without him. Hill has quietly emerged as one of the league’s better players, having mastered the art of the midrange jumpshot.

3rd Team All-Conference:

Mustafa Shakur, 6’3, Senior, PG, Arizona
Chase Budinger, 6’7, Freshman, SG, Arizona
Jon Brockman, 6’7, Sophomore, PF, Washington
Spencer Hawes, 7’0, Freshman, C, Washington
Jeff Pendergraph, 6’9, Sophomore, PF, Arizona State

Shakur was his typical up-and-down self, but the head shaking moments weren’t quite as frequent as they have been in the past. Shakur’s decision to return to Arizona for his senior year was somewhat of a surprise, but it appears to have been a good one. The two freshman on the 3rd team largely lived up to their advanced billing. Budinger was Arizona’s most reliable scoring presence, and one gets the feeling he could have produced a lot more if not for all of his talented upperclassman teammates that play his position. Hawes hit somewhat of a freshman wall midway through conference play, but has bounced back nicely to close out what will likely be an NIT season for Washington. Brockman and Pendergraph represent opposite ends of the sophomore big man spectrum. You can set your watch to former burger boy John Brockman’s double-doubles, while Arizona State’s Pendergraph is unlikely to toil in obscurity for too much longer.

1st Team All Freshman:


Chase Budinger, 6’7, SG, Arizona
Ryan Anderson, 6’9, PF, California
Taj Gibson, 6’9, PF, USC
Spencer Hawes, 7’0, C, Washington
Brook Lopez, 7’0, C, Stanford

This was a historic freshman class for the Pac-10, and this is reflected with three of the 1st team members also showing up on an All-Conference team. That leaves Anderson and Gibson to talk about, both of whom were immediate contributors. Gibson’s double-double production and presence on the glass turned USC into a Tourney team, and we might be saying the same thing about Anderson if teammate Devon Hardin hadn’t gone down with an injury. Gibson is old for his class, but still displays a nice package of skill, athleticism, feel for the game and upside. Anderson isn’t going to knock your socks off athletically, but displayed a shockingly good feel for the game from day one.

2nd Team All Freshman:

Tajuan Porter, 5’6, PG/SG, Oregon
Christian Polk, 6’3, PG/SG, Arizona State
Quincy Pondexter, 6’7, SF, Washington
Jordan Hill, 6’9, PF, Arizona
Robin Lopez, 7’0, C, Stanford

Porter is the notable name here, after capturing the attention of the nation by averaging 31 points and connecting on 21 3-pointers in his first three collegiate games. Porter cooled off from there, but remained one of the league’s most dangerous streak scorers throughout conference play. Polk didn’t shoot the ball very well, but made a pair of jaw-dropping buzzer beaters and should emerge as a major piece of Herb Sendek’s rebuilding project once he gets a little more help around him. Pondexter and Hill both have professional-caliber athletic tools, but both were up and down. Hill helped Arizona back from the brink with an eight game stretch where he averaged 10 points and 7 rebounds per contest. Robin Lopez should have been a lock for the first team, but his Brook stole his thunder somewhat upon returning from an injury.

2007 Draft Disappointment: Luc Richard Mbah A a Moute, 6'8, SF/PF, UCLA

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, 6’8, SF/PF, UCLA

After a stretch of outstanding play in UCLA’s march to the Final Four last spring, it appeared Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s ascent to stardom was a mere formality. But even with UCLA mopping up the Pac-10 again this year, Mbah a Moute has been unable to take game to the next level. The tantalizing flashes of perimeter skill he showed late last season haven’t materialized into anything substantial, and have probably hurt his overall effectiveness because he is now less focused on what he does well, which is antagonize the opposition around the basket. Mbah a Moute’s shooting touch has gone in the wrong direction as well, and ballhandling is still a major weakness if he is ever going to play SF in the NBA. This season is far from a lost cause, as his underwhelming regular season performance would be quickly forgotten if he (and the Bruins as a team) can repeat last year’s Tourney performance.

Looking Forward to 2008: Jeff Pendergraph


Brook Lopez, Spencer Hawes, and Chase Budinger all could have ended up here. But we’ve featured Lopez enough already, while Hawes and Budinger might not be playing college basketball in 2008. That leaves Pendergraph, whose quiet improvement over the course of the year has given Arizona State fans a bit of short-term hope. Pendergraph doesn’t have the stats to blow you away, but certainly passes the look test on the court. He long, lean and explosive, with a versatile array of post moves and soft touch. Pendergraph nearly averaged a double-double, and his numbers are already deceivingly low because of the snail’s pace the Sun Devils play at. To put this in perspective, Pendergraph finished 24th in the entire country in offensive rebounding percentage (according to Ken Pomeroy. The players that finished ahead of him are mostly part-time rebounding specialists, with only a handful of full-time, high-major starters ahead of him.

The Sun Devils could be in for a breakout season, with Herb Sendek bringing in one of the top wings recruits in the country, Artesia(CA) High’s James Harden, to go along with Top 100 point guard Jamelle McMillian, former Villanova commit Kraidon Woods, and Duke transfer Eric Boateng. Nobody is expecting the Sun Devils to make a jump b to the top of the league all at once, but even a move back to respectability would mean big things for Pendergraph.

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