Pac-12 Non-Conference Superlatives

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton128) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on January 1st, 2014

As part of the conclusion of the non-conference slate, it’s time for Connor and Drew to recognize some of the Pac-12 highlights through nearly two months of the regular season. We’ll cover all the basics: Player of the Year; Coach of the Year; Freshman of the Year; an all-conference team to this point; as well as the biggest surprises and disappointments. And we’ll give you our rationale on each. So let’s get right to it, and let us know where you disagree.

Player of the Year – There’s still a lot of hoop left, so we’ll each give you our current top three picks in this category and some reasons why.

Connor’s Picks:

  1. Joseph Young. Young has been the cornerstone of Oregon’s offense, scoring in double figures in each game and acting as the guy to lift them whenever they hit a scoring lull.
  2. Roberto Nelson. The conference’s leading scorer has put up at least 17 points or more in each game the Beavers have played, save the contest against Towson in which he was ejected for attempting to throw a punch eight minutes into the contest.
  3. Jahii Carson. Jahiisus, who just might be the quickest point guard in the country, steps up whenever he is called upon for Herb Sendek’s Sun Devils. Whether it’s been a 40-point performance at UNLV or a 23-point showing to beat nationally-ranked Marquette, no stage is too big for the super sophomore.
Oregon's Junior Transfer Joseph Young Top's Both Of Our Voters' Picks For The Player of the Year Leader At The Halfway Mark (AP Photo)

Oregon’s Junior Transfer Joseph Young Top’s Both Of Our Voters’ Picks For The Player of the Year Leader At The Halfway Mark (AP Photo)

Drew’s Picks:

  1. Joseph Young. Might as well make it unanimous. While Young has had plenty of help in Eugene, he’s been the best offensive player on a team chock-full of them.
  2. Jahii Carson. Expectations were high enough for Carson coming into the year so that his 19.3 PPG, 5.4 APG, 3.9 RPG and 51.4 percent three-point shooting are seen as almost a disappointment. Which is ridiculous. Expect him to be a big part of the Pac-12 POY conversation when all is said and done.
  3. Delon Wright. He’s come out of nowhere and hasn’t exactly played against great competition, but his production has been fantastic across the board. If he can keep this up, he’ll be in contention for this award come March.

All-Conference TeamsThe challenge was seemingly simple — pick the five best players within these three parameters: one point guard, two wings, two bigs. Even so, one of our voters somehow wound up with a couple point guards on his team. Here’s how deep the Pac-12 is this year: Even with eight different names mentioned on the two teams below, we still wound up with guys like Spencer Dinwiddie, Jordan Adams, DaVonte Lacy, Kyle Anderson, Nick Johnson and Justin Cobbs on the outside looking in. That’s depth.

Jahii Carson  Is The Unanimous Pick As The Best Point Guard in The Pac (Jeff Gross, Getty Images)

Jahii Carson Is The Unanimous Pick As The Best Point Guard in The Pac (Jeff Gross, Getty Images)

Connor’s Picks:

  • PG: Jahii Carson, Sophomore, Arizona State
  • Wings: Joseph Young, Junior, Oregon and Roberto Nelson, Senior, Oregon State
  • Bigs: Devon Collier, Senior, Oregon State and Richard Solomon, Senior, California

Drew’s Picks:

  • PG: Jahii Carson, Sophomore, Arizona State
  • Wings: Joseph Young, Junior, Oregon and Delon Wright, Junior, Utah
  • Bigs: Brandon Ashley, Sophomore, Arizona and Josh Scott, Sophomore, Colorado

Freshman of the Year

Connor’s PickNigel Williams-Goss. Going a little off the radar with this pick, but Williams-Goss is a stat sheet stuffer who has quickly become one of the top players for a disappointing Washington team. He has scored in double figures in six of the last seven games and has pulled down five or more rebounds in four of his last five.

Drew’s PickAaron Gordon. Let’s not overthink this. He was the most hyped freshman in the conference coming into the season, and while others, like teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson or UCLA’s Zach LaVine, have been very good, Gordon has lived up to it.

Coach of the Year

Connor’s PickDana Altman. Altman coached Oregon to a perfect 12-0 campaign in non-conference play, nine games of which were without his starting point guard and center.

Even As The Preseason Favorite, Sean Miller Has His Arizona Team Exceeding Expectations (Christian Peterson, Getty Images)

Even As The Preseason Favorite, Sean Miller Has His Arizona Team Exceeding Expectations (Christian Peterson, Getty Images)

Drew’s PickSean Miller. The Wildcats may have been the favorite in the conference, but Miller’s got his team exceeding even those expectations and are relevant nationally. Arizona is in the bottom eight percent of all Division I teams in terms of experience, but they’ve been dialed in from the opening tip.

Most Surprising Team

Connor’s PickUtah. Yes, the team that has finished a combined 30 games under .500 over the past four seasons has opened at 11-1, including a 17-point win over rival BYU.

Drew’s PickUSC. Despite dealing with JT Terrell’s academic suspension, the growing pains of a freshman class, and Andy Enfield trying to force some square pegs of a returning roster into his round hole of a system, the Trojans have a couple solid wins and aren’t the complete disaster that some expected.

Most Surprising Player

Connor’s PickByron Wesley. Wesley has gone from a role player on the USC roster to its leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 16.8 PPG and 7.2 RPG.

Drew’s PickDelon Wright. There was a time in the offseason when it wasn’t entirely clear who would run the point for the Utes. But pretty early after practice began, it became obvious that not only did Wright have the job, but folks were excited about him. And he’s proved all of those guys right. Check out these numbers: 14.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 5.9 APG, 2.6 SPG, 1.2 BPG and a 70.7 percent shooting rate. Insane.

Most Disappointing Team

Connor’s PickWashington. The Huskies lost to UC Irvine by 14 and to a 4-9 Boston College club by 11 within the first two weeks of the season. Washington then followed those performances up with a four-point win against Montana and double overtime win against another 4-9 team, Long Beach State.

Lorenzo Romar, Washington

Seriously, What The Heck Is Going On In Seattle? (credit: Geoffrey McAllister)

Drew’s PickWashington. There’s no argument. Relegation is a serious possibility for the Huskies after this season.

Most Disappointing Player

Connor’s Pick: Travis Wear. After averaging over 10.0 PPG in his past two seasons with the Bruins, the senior forward has been non-existent this year.

Drew’s PickDwight Powell. In no way has Powell been bad this season, but with the Cardinal running the offense through him more often and with his free throw shooting having surprisingly fallen off the table, Powell’s offensive efficiency numbers have dipped as he’s struggled with consistency.

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