Player of the Year

Tres Tinkle, Oregon State

Tinkle was the constant engine that kept this Beaver team going all season long. The 6’8, 225 lb. junior forward averaged nearly 21 points per game this season on 48 percent shooting from the field. Tinkle is one of if not the most versatile player in all of the Pac-12,  not only from a scoring standpoint, but he does everything and anything his team needs him to do. He can shoot the long ball for his size if needed at just under 33 percent but he is also aggressive enough of a rim attacker to average over six free throw attempts per contest.

Because of his size, Tinkle has been able to average over eight rebounds per game as well putting him in the top five in the Pac-12 for rebounding, scoring, and steals per game with a 1.7 average. Tinkle’s 3.8 assists per game is not be overlooked either because this kid can pass the basketball. Someone like Tinkle who can get their own shot and sometimes face double teams should be able to kick it out to an open shooter or a cutting teammate, which is exactly what he does. He is also quite active on the defensive side of the ball. Perhaps Tinkle could have led Oregon State to a better overall record if he had some more talent around him. Kylor Kelly has proven to be an incredible shot-blocker, leading the Pac-12 by over a whole block per game, but those two were not enough to get Oregon State into the NCAA tournament this season.

Coach of the Year

Mike Hopkins, Washington

The Huskies have earned the best record in the Pac-12 this season and head coach Mike Hopkins deserves a big chunk of the credit. Nobody expected the Washington Huskies from last year to have the best record in the conference this season. Last year, the Huskies went 10-8 in conference play and finished with the 7th best record in the conference. This year they were the best for a number of reasons. That begins with Coach Hopkins. This team has been disciplined on the defensive side of the ball all season and that strategy leads to offensive production. Coach Hopkins has helped turn Jaylen Nowell into one of the top scorers in the conference. Hopkins has helped Matisse Thybulle become the best defensive player in the Pac-12. Hameir Wright is also a leading shot blocker in the Pac-12. Defense wins championships and clearly Mike Hopkins has put a strong emphasis on it all season.

Defensive Player of the Year

Matisse Thybulle, Washington

This senior Husky built on what was an incredible defensive year last year as the defensive anchor for this Washington team. Last season Thybulle averaged an impressive three steals and 1.4 blocks per contest last season which is excellent but then he took it to a whole other level this season. This year, Thybulle has averaged 2.3 blocks per game at just 6’5, 195 lbs. That is second in the Pac-12 in blocks for a 6’5 guy. He averaged 3.4 steals per game this season which is 1.5 more than the guy in second place, simply unheard of. Thybulle deserves credit for being a huge reason why the Huskies finished this regular season with the best record in all of the Pac-12. Despite playing one minute per game less this season than last season, Thybulle was still able to improve on his steals and blocks per game. His defensive prowess alone should warrant attention for him regarding the NBA draft.

Biggest Surprises

Oregon Ducks

When the Ducks lost freshman Bol Bol to a season-ending foot injury, no one thought that the Ducks would be the hottest team in the Pac-12 heading into March Madness. Well, it is March and and the Ducks have won the Pac-12 tournament by 20 points over the Huskies who had the top record for the regular season. Louis King, Payton Pritchard, and Paul White all stepped up in the scoring department to help supplement the loss of Bol’s 21 points per game. Kenny Wooten stepped up in the rebounding and mainly rim protecting departments. Payton Pritchard in particular seems to have provided a spark for this Oregon team as of late. He averages just under two steals per game and has a clear edge on the defensive side as he plays as hard as anybody. If the Ducks can continue to play strong on both ends as a unit and rally around the energy that guys like Pritchard have had, especially on defense, they can and will make some noise in the tournament.

Biggest Disappointments


Although Shareef O’Neal never suited up for the Bruins, the addition of freshman big-man Moses Brown made UCLA one of the favorites in the Pac-12 this season. Many thought UCLA would take a jump from its 11-7 conference record from last season but the team actually took a step back earning a 9-9 conference record this season. Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands were the two leading scorers for the Bruin team combining for 31.6 points per game. Hands had been more of a playmaker averaging over six assists per game. Moses Brown held it down in the backcourt all season for UCLA protecting the rim with 1.9 blocks per game and 8.3 rebounds. A very solid trio of two versatile players with good size and a 7’1 young center who can protect the rim but UCLA fell short and was not able to make the tournament. If Shareef O’neal comes back for his sophomore year, this team will be exciting to watch next season.

Most Improved Player

KZ Okpala, Stanford

From averaging just 10 points per game and 3.7 rebounds last year, this 6’9 forward made a big jump coming into this season. This season, Okpala played four more minutes per game than he did last year, which he absolutely made the most of. He averaged 16.8 points per game this season for the Cardinals and that was shooting a full seven percent better from the field than he did last year. He also grabbed two more rebounds per game for his team than he did last season. The Cardinals did finish 3rd from last this season in the Pac-12 but KZ Okpala was one of the few factors keeping them from being lower. Okpala can continue to improve if he continues to do what he has been doing in addition to his outside shooting in particular, which he also got up 14 percent from last season. If Okpala develops the ability to step outside and shoot and adds it to his game, he can become an even better player than he already is.

All-Pac-12 Teams

First Team

Robert Franks, Washington State
Tres Tinkle, Oregon State
Jaylen Nowell, Washington
Bennie Boatwright, USC
Kris Wilkes, UCLA

Second team

KZ Okpala, Stanford
Luguentz Dort, Arizona State
Stephen Thompson Jr., Oregon State
Nick Rakocevic, USC
CJ Elleby, Washington State

Third Team

Sedrick Barefield, Utah
McKinley Wright IV, Colorado
Justice Sueing, Cal
Jaylen Hands, UCLA
Moses Brown, UCLA

Power Rankings

1. Oregon
2. Washington
3. Arizona State
4. Utah
5. Colorado
7. Oregon State
8. Arizona
9. Stanford
10. USC
11. Washington State
12. California

1 Comment

  1. good write up and thanks for

     good write up and thanks for covering my favorite conference this year.Missed way more than normal but yeah UCLA left me dissapointed and kind of sucked the enrgy for college ball out of me this year. 

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