Every year, the NCAA and individual conferences hand out awards to players and coaches who performed the best. This year has been an interesting one in the Pac-12, as there is more competition for a couple of the awards than there has been in the past.
Player of the Year: Stanford senior forward Chiney Ogwumike
Widely considered one of the best players in the country, if not the best, Ogwumike is putting up another awe-inspiring season for the Cardinal. While her rebounding has gone down a tad from last season, Ogwumike is averaging more than four more points than she did last season and is shooting almost 4 percent better. Ogwumike has recorded 20 double-doubles this year and is the best player on one of the best teams in the country. If she does not win this award, then it is because the Pac-12 is playing a prank on everyone.
Runner-up: Oregon sophomore forward Jillian Alleyne
Freshman of the Year: Washington freshman guard Kelsey Plum
In a close race between Plum and Oregon guard Chrishae Rowe, Washington’s dynamic freshman should hold the advantage. Plum has amassed 14 games in which she has scored 20 points and three with 30 points. Her production has not resulted in great success for her team. Due to the fact that Plum’s percentages are better than Rowe’s and her team’s offense isn’t designed to score as many as Oregon’s is, Plum gets the nod.
Defensive Player of the Year: Oregon State sophomore center Ruth Hamblin
Unseating last year’s winner Ogwumike, Hamblin has made an excellent case for herself to win the award. Hamblin has played a great post for the Beavers this year, leading the team in field goal percentage and rebounds per game. In addition to the more common statistics, Hamblin has blocked 104 shots this season, good for third in the country. Hamblin’s presence down on the block for the Beavers has made her teammates’ lives easier on defense because of the knowledge that they have a truly intimidating presence right behind them. Hamblin’s emergence as a force has in part led the Oregon State’s turnaround from bottom of the conference to fighting for a postseason berth at the end of the season.
Coach of the Year: Charli Turner Thorne, ASU
For the second time in her coaching career and first since 2001, Turner Thorne will be recognized as the best coach in the conference. After amassing just 13 wins last season, her Sun Devils now stand at 22-6 and should be in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2010-11 season. Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer is a perennial candidate for the award, but it’s hard to ignore the job that Turner Thorne has done to turn her team from bottom-dwellers of the Pac-12 to the brink of the postseason.
Runner-up: Scott Rueck, Oregon State
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