Like almost every year it seems, the Pac-12 Player of the Year award is difficult to determine and the results are often controversial. Back in 2010, it seemed Quincy Pondexter should have won it, since he had won a Pac-12 record six Player of the Week awards, his statistics matched up well against any other Pac-12 player, and he was a certain NBA 1st round draft pick. Unfortunately, the coaches inexplicably picked Jerome Randle of California, who was neither drafted, nor dominated league play. I guess the reason was because California won the regular season title. Of course, Washington got revenge in the Pac-12 tournament title game and then Pondexter proved his worth for the award with his last second one-on-one take against #6 seed Marquette in the NCAA tournament. But, seriously, was Randle the best player in the conference? Or was he simply the “best player on the best team”.
And, if that was the measuring stick, then why didn’t Jon Brockman win the award in 2009 when the Huskies won the Pac-10 title outright, instead of giving it to James Harden? Then, there was last year, when Derrick Williams won the award, while many felt Isaiah Thomas had the more complete season. Of course, we all know what Little Zeke did about that in the Pac-12 title game don’t we? Cold-blooded…
Anyways, the way this Pac-12 season has gone, it is hard to see who deserves this title the most. You have someone who is probably the best overall player in the conference playing for a team who has gone just 5-11 in conference play. There are two pairs of candidates who play for the same team (Wroten and Ross at UW and Gutierrez and Crabbe at Cal) who might win the Pac-12 title. There is a player who transferred from the Big Ten to take a motley crue of players at Oregon to the edge of the NCAA tournament. Then there is a big boy having a breakout season on the Palouse, but plays for a .500 team. But, there just are not any obvious stars in the league this year like previous POYs, such as Kevin Love, Brandon Roy, Ike Diogu, Jason Terry, or Jason Kidd.
Anyways, let’s look at the candidates. Below I have the Top 10 players in the conference statistically, with weight given toward points per game and minutes per game.
|Jared Cunningham, G
|Brock Motum, F
|Tony Wroten, G
|Devoe Joseph, G
|Allen Crabbe, G
|Terrence Ross, G
|C.J. Wilcox, G
|Maurice Jones, G
|Jorge Gutierrez, G
|Chasson Randle, G
Among these Top 10, I see six of them as possible winners of the award.
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State- Man, this guy is extremely athletic. If you don’t believe me, check out this highlight! But, can someone on a team with so many conference losses win the award? History says no.
Jorge Gutierrez, California- The heart-and-soul of the most stable team in the Pac-12. California is the only team who has kept their RPI in the 20’s and 30’s all season. Gutierrez is an Pac-12 All-defensive player, has improved his offensive game, and is high energy. If there is a reason for California’s success, it is him. But, they may not win the Pac-12 title and in the last two years the winner of the award came from the regular season champion.
Terrance Ross, Washington- Can someone on a team with 2 or 3 Player of the Year candidates really win the award? Terrance Ross is figured to be a lottery pick in the NBA draft and he sure is an exciting player. His athleticism is amazing and he has the ability to take over game when the team needs him. But, his propensity to disappear for long periods of time, especially his lack of performance in the first half of games has to be held against him.
Tony Wroten, Washington- Can a freshman win the award? Should one? Tony Wroten has displayed tremendous abilities, has taken over many games this season when the team needed him, and is a sure fire NBA draft pick if he wants to go early. But, he made many freshman mistakes this season. His lack of 3-point shooting has left his game somewhat one-dimension. His poor free throw percentage has made him a liability at times. His decision making is not always the greatest and despite him impressive steals, he is not considered a tremendous defender. Can someone with so many flaws, but such athleticism win the award?
Devoe Joseph, Oregon- Joseph has certainly been the everything player for the Ducks this year. He is among the leaders in the conference in many categories including points, minutes, and assists. He has single handily saved Oregon in several games this year. This transfer from Minnesota is doing everything he can to get Oregon to the NCAA tournament. But, is that enough to win the award?
Brock Motum, Washington State- While maybe not the player of the year, he is certainly the most improved player in the conference. He is the only forward on this list and this Aussie is dominating games inside and out. Motum is looking like an NBA player of the future I think he’ll be on the short-list of player of the year candidates next year. I don’t think he’ll win it this year, especially with Washington State’s 14-14 record. But, you never know…
Maurice Jones, USC- No, no player from a team that has only won one single conference game is going to win the award. But, when you look at his statistics this year, it is downright impressive. Especially when you consider how few points USC scores. He has to be averaging the highest percentage of any team’s points of any player in the league…maybe the country! If USC were a good team, Jones would be a star and at the top of this list. But, for now, all we can do is shake our heads at how awful Kevin O’Neil’s team is…