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Sports >  NCAA basketball

Pac-12 basketball outlook: Washington State coach Kyle Smith leads the way among our 2022 awards winners

By Jon Wilner Bay Area News Group

Before we plunge into the names to watch in Pac-12 basketball, a few numbers for your consumption:

— Four of the top 20 scorers in the conference last season are back for another year.

— Three of the 15 players named to the all-conference teams last season are returning.

— Four of the top 50 recruits in the country are joining Pac-12 teams next season. (Gonzaga alone signed four of the top 53 prospects.)

Put another way: There’s a paucity of established stars and one-and-done talents.

The Pac-12’s success in 2021-22 depends heavily on role players morphing into impact players and on transfers making instant impacts.

Now, to our projections for postseason awards …

Coach of the Year: Washington State’s Kyle Smith. Entering his third season, Smith has overhauled the roster, maximized his personnel and positioned the Cougars for their first winning season in conference play since 2008. His work in Pullman — a stretch engulfed by the pandemic — has been extremely impressive. Also considered: UCLA’s Mick Cronin, Oregon’s Dana Altman and Utah’s Craig Smith

Player of the Year: UCLA G Johnny Juzang. Despite Juzang’s wondrous performance in the NCAAs and the hype accompanying his return to Westwood, this was not an easy call. The UCLA roster is loaded, the pressure on Juzang will be intense, and the guy across town with major upside just played well in the NCAAs, too. Also considered: USC’s Isaiah Mobley and Oregon’s Will Richardson

Freshman of the Year: Arizona State C Enoch Boakye. The Pac-12’s incoming class isn’t up to the standard of recent editions. We’re not convinced Boakye is the top talent, but ASU’s roster shortcomings are such that he could very well have the greatest opportunity to thrive. Also considered: Colorado’s Lawson Lovering and UCLA’s Peyton Watson

Newcomer of the Year: Oregon F Quincy Guerrier. The Syracuse transfer averaged 13.7 points and 8.4 rebounds in the ACC, with double-doubles against the likes of North Carolina and Virginia. He’s also 22 years old, 220 pounds and a looming matchup problem for Pac-12 wings who aren’t as physically mature. Also considered: Utah’s Both Gach, Oregon’s De’Vion Harmon and USC’s Boogie Ellis

Defensive Player of the Year: Colorado G Eli Parquet. One of the top defenders in the conference last year is back for a run at DPOY. Averaged close to one steal per game and, at 6-foot-3, managed a whopping 23 blocked shots. Can defend multiple positions, including big wings. Also considered: UCLA’s Myles Johnson and Jaime Jaquez and Stanford’s Bryce Wills

All-Conference

(* = all-conference last season)

First Team

F Isaiah Mobley, USC

F Warith Alatishe, Oregon State

G Johnny Juzang, UCLA*

G Noah Williams, Washington State

G Will Richardson, Oregon

Second Team

F Marcus Bagley, Arizona State

F Evan Battey, Colorado

F Quincy Guerrier, Oregon

G/F Jaime Jaquez, UCLA*

G Tyger Campbell, UCLA*

Third Team

F Azuolas Tubelis, Arizona

G De’Vion Harmon, Oregon

G Boogie Ellis, USC

G Both Gach, Utah

G Jaiden Delaire, Stanford

All-Defense

First Team

C Myles Johnson, UCLA

F Efe Abogidi, Washington State

G/F Jaime Jaquez, UCLA

G Eli Parquet, Colorado

G Bryce Wills, Stanford

Second Team

C Branden Carlson, Utah

C Franck Kepnang, Oregon

F Warith Alatishe, Oregon State

G Tyger Campbell, UCLA

G Noah Williams, Washington State

All-Freshman

First Team

C Lawson Lovering, Colorado

C Enoch Boakye, Arizona State

F Mouhamed Gueye, Washington State

G/F Peyton Watson, UCLA

G K.J. Simpson, Colorado

Second Team

C Nathan Bittle, Oregon

C Jackson Grant, Washington

F Adama Bal, Arizona

G/F Harrison Ingram, Stanford

G Malik Thomas, USC

All-Newcomer

(transfers only)

First Team

C Myles Johnson, UCLA (from Rutgers)

G Quincy Guerrier, Oregon (Syracuse)

G De’Vion Harmon, Oregon (Oklahoma)

G Boogie Ellis, USC (Memphis)

G Both Gach, Utah (Minnesota)

Second Team

F Emmitt Matthews, Washington (West Virginia)

G David Jenkins, Utah (UNLV)

G Marreon Jackson, Arizona State (Toledo)

G Daejon Davis, Washington (Stanford)

G Michael Flowers, Washington State (South Alabama)

Third Team

G Mason Faulkner, Colorado (Western Carolina)

G Terrell Brown, Washington (Arizona)

G Jacob Young, Oregon (Rutgers)

G Justin Kier, Arizona (Georgia)

G Jay Heath, Arizona State (Boston College)

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