Matisse Thybulle first Washington player to win Pac-12 DPOTY award

TUCSON, AZ - JANUARY 29: Matisse Thybulle
TUCSON, AZ - JANUARY 29: Matisse Thybulle /

The Washington Basketball team played hard this season, but no player moreso than defensive standout Matisse Thybulle. His defensive prowess earned him the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award

The Washington Basketball team was not known for stout defense in years past. But all the while, a young wing by the name of Matisse Thybulle bucked that trend. As other players raced to the hoop to score, Thybulle was content to disrupt the passing lanes with his deceptively long reach. As teammates aimed at points per game, Thybulle was content to block and steal. In fact, he almost seemed to prefer frustrating opposing players over scoring baskets. He was a contrarian.

But he found an ally this season with the arrival of head coach Mike Hopkins. And with Coach Hopkins, team defense suddenly became important. that suited Thybulle just fine. Now, he was encouraged to excel at something he loved to do.

When passion and skill converge, great things happen

And when passion and skill converge, people begin to notice. That is how the Pac-12 came to recognize Matisse Thybulle as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

The award is historically significant. Thybulle is the first Washington Huskies player to receive the distinction.

The award validated not only Thybulle’s efforts, but the complete turnaround for the entire Washington Basketball program under Coach Hopkins.

Related Story: Matisse Thybulle emerging as NBA worthy talent

Tougher Together

But it was not just his individual effort. In fact, Thybulle was quick to point out that fact in an interview with Ryan Clark of the News Tribune after receiving the award:

"“We gotta give a lot of credit to (Huskies coach Mike Hopkins) and the whole team in general,” Thybulle said about being an all-defensive selection. “Without them … for me to do what I’ve been able to defensively.”"

We’d projected Thybulle’s defense as the biggest beneficiary of Coach Hopkins arrival.  As preseason predictions go, that one was a dead-on bullseye. But this also adds some intrigue to Thybulle as a possible NBA prospect in the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft.

Next: The Case For Washington Huskies Basketball

The Washington Basketball team was defense oriented this season. And while the team made great strides, offensive improvement must come to get the team that coveted NCAA Tournament invitation.  Judging by the production of Matisse Thybulle on defense, the team simply needs to flip the switch for one player to make it happen.