Pac-12 men’s basketball award projections: Jordan Bachynski to win defensive player of the year

The long regular season in men’s basketball is coming to a close with just two weeks left before the Pac-12 Tournament commences March 12.

At this point of the year, it’s time to narrow down the list of candidates for every conference award. While a lot can happen in the next couple of weeks, there is a clear idea of who has stood out this season and who are the frontrunners for the five major awards.

The State Press projected this year’s Pac-12 award-winners as well as all-conference honors for the 2013-14 season.

 

 

Player of the Year: UA junior guard Nick Johnson

It’s hard to think of an argument why this award shouldn’t go to the most valuable player of a top-five team in the nation. Averaging 16 points a night, Johnson is the undisputed leader of the Wildcats and has come through in the clutch several times throughout the season. Johnson is hands down the best perimeter defender in the Pac-12, and it’s really no coincidence UA’s losses and toughest wins happen in the same night Johnson doesn’t play well on both ends.

Runners-up: UCLA sophomore wing Kyle Anderson and ASU redshirt sophomore point guard Jahii Carson

Defensive Player of the Year: ASU senior center Jordan Bachynski

Nation’s leader in blocks. Game-saving blocks. Season blocks records. All-time blocks records. What more could you ask out of Bachynski? He’s such a prolific shot-blocker that only he can make eight blocks in a single game seem normal to fans and beat writers. It’s not just rejections that stand out about Bachynski — it’s that he’s always altering shots in the paint and his rebounding has significantly improved as well (up 2.8 boards per game from last year).

Runners-up: Johnson and Utah junior forward Delon Wright

Freshman of the Year: UA freshman forward Aaron Gordon

How often do you see an 18-year-old wreaking havoc in the frontcourt like a grown man in college basketball? Gordon’s season averages (11.9 points and 7.9 rebounds) aren’t the most appealing, but his elite athleticism is a weapon and a game-changer, making him the anchor of the most dominant frontcourt in the Pac-12. Gordon will most likely be a lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

Runners-up: Washington freshman guard Nigel Williams-Goss and Colorado freshman forward Wesley Gordon

Most Improved Player: Washington State junior forward DaVonte Lacy

In 2012-13, Lacy averaged 10.5 points per game and shot 41.1 percent from the field and 68.8 percent from the free-throw line. This year, Lacy’s averages are 19.3 points per game, 45.3 percent from the field and 82.3 percent from the foul line. Lacy had some big scoring performances last year but also disappeared in other games. This season, Lacy has developed some consistency and rebounded well after missing eight games near the start of conference play due to rib issues.

Also considered: Bachynski, Stanford junior center Stefan Nastic and California senior forward Richard Solomon

Coach of the Year: Tad Boyle, Colorado

No Dinwiddie? No problem. Everyone thought the Buffaloes’ season was lost when their star junior guard suffered a season-ending torn ACL, but Colorado still managed to stay relevant without him. A lot of credit goes to junior point guard Askia Booker and sophomore forward Josh Scott for picking up the load, but Boyle should be commended for making a young team a sure-fire lock for the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year.

Also considered: Sean Miller, UA; Steve Alford, UCLA; Johnny Dawkins, Stanford; and Herb Sendek, ASU

All-Pac-12 First Team:

G – Justin Cobbs, Sr., Cal

G – Jahii Carson, RSo., ASU

G – Nick Johnson, Jr., UA

G – Kyle Anderson, So., UCLA

G – C.J. Wilcox, Sr., Washington

F – Delon Wright, Jr., Utah

F – Aaron Gordon, Fr., UA

F – Dwight Powell, Jr., Stanford

F – Jordan Loveridge, So., Utah

F – Josh Scott, So., Colorado

All-Pac-12 Second Team:

G – Roberto Nelson, Sr., Oregon State

G – Chasson Randle, Jr., Stanford

F – Joseph Young, So., Oregon

F – Richard Solomon, Sr., Cal

C – Jordan Bachynski, Sr., ASU

Pac-12 All-Freshman Team:

G – Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington

G – Zach Lavine, UCLA

F – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, UA

F – Que Johnson, Washington State

F – Aaron Gordon, UA

Pac-12 All-Defensive Team:

G – Jordan Adams, So., UCLA

G – Nick Johnson, Jr., UA

F – Delon Wright, Jr., Utah

F – Eric Moreland, Jr., Oregon State

C – Jordan Bachynski, Sr., ASU

Reach the reporter at jnacion@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion