In a vote of the 12 Conference coaches, OREGON junior forward Dillon Brooks has been chosen the 2016-17 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Player of the Year; UCLA guard Lonzo Ball was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year; OREGON junior forward Jordan Bell was selected the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year; USC sophomore forward Chimezie Metu was tabbed Pac-12 Most Improved Player of the Year; and Sean Miller of ARIZONA claimed the John R. Wooden Coach of the Year honor, Commissioner Larry Scott announced today.
PAC-12 PLAYER OF THE YEAR: DILLON BROOKS, OREGON
The second Duck to be named Pac-12 Player of the Year in the past three years, BROOKS is the fifth Oregon player ever to capture the award along with former teammate Joseph Young, Luke Ridnour, Terrell Brandon and Ron Lee. Slowed by a foot injury at the outset of the season, Brooks quickly regained his preseason Associated Press First Team All-American form to help the Ducks to an 11-2 non-conference mark.
Brooks went on to average 17.9 points in Conference play, third-best in the league, and led the Ducks with 35 triples in Pac-12 games. Two of those threes proved critical, as his buzzer-beating, game-winning shots in victories over UCLA and California helped Oregon repeat as Pac-12 regular-season champions, earning a share with Arizona at 16-2. Brooks is one of a national-best four John R. Wooden National Player of the Year finalists from the Pac-12.
PAC-12 FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: LONZO BALL, UCLA
BALL is the ninth UCLA player to earn the Pac-12 Freshman or Rookie of the Year award, joining Pooh Richardson, Don MacLean, Baron Davis, Jason Kapono, Jordan Farmer, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Kevin Love and Shabazz Muhammad. The Chino Hills, Calif., native and National Player and Freshman of the Year finalist has been the catalyst to the Bruins’ 13.5-game improvement from 2015-16, the second-best turnaround in college basketball this season.
Ball paces the Pac-12 with a league record for assists by a freshman with 241 (7.8 apg), eclipsing Gary Payton’s previous mark of 229. He’s also second in the Pac-12 in steals (2.0 spg), 14th in scoring (14.9 ppg) and 16th in rebounding (6.2 rpg), putting him on pace to be the first Conference player to average at least 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds in a season since California’s Jason Kidd in 1993-94.
PAC-12 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: JORDAN BELL, OREGON
BELL is the first Oregon player to claim the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award in its 14 years of existence. He teamed with fellow All-Defensive Team selection Chris Boucher to help the Ducks post 6.8 blocks per game, second-best in the nation and on pace to break the Pac-12 single-season record. He’s the only player inside the top 10 in the league in rebounding (10th, 7.9 rpg), steals (8th, 1.4 spg) and blocks (4th, 2.1 bpg), while also providing a career-best 10.1 points per game at the second-best field goal rate in the Pac-12 (.630).
PAC-12 MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: CHIMEZIE METU, USC
METU joins 2010 honoree Nikola Vucevic as USC players to be named Pac-12 Most Improved Player, which has been awarded every year since 2009. He more than doubled his scoring (6.4 ppg to 14.4 ppg) and rebounding (3.6 rpg to 7.6 rpg) production compared to his freshman campaign in 2015-16, while also providing a team-best 1.4 blocks per game for the Trojans, who reached 10 Conference wins for the first time since 2011.
PAC-12 JOHN R. WOODEN COACH OF THE YEAR: SEAN MILLER, ARIZONA
MILLER earns Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the third time in his eight seasons in the Conference, joining Lute Olson (seven), Mike Montgomery (four), Dana Altman (three), George Raveling (three) and Lorenzo Romar (three) as mentors with three-or-more Pac-12 Coach of the Year awards. He guided a short-handed and freshman-laden Arizona lineup to an 11-2 non-conference mark, then went 16-2 in league play to earn a share of the Pac-12 regular-season crown, the 15th in Wildcats’ program history and fourth of his tenure.
Along the way, he became only the 21st coach in league history to reach 100 career Conference victories. His .743 winning percentage in league games (107-37) is third only to legends Wooden (.810) and Olson (.764) among those to reach 100 wins.