Pac-12 basketball starts conference play today and now is a perfect time to look at the league and provide some mid-season awards and predictions for the rest of the season.
I give the nod to Solomon Hill as the league's player of the year.
Player of the year
This award goes to Arizona senior Solomon Hill. The senior forward is the best player and emotional leader of the league's best team. Hill averages 12.7 points, 5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. Against San Diego State Hill scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds. He also finished with three assists and no turnovers. Hill has scored double-digits in eight of his 12 games.
Freshamn of the year
Going into the season I thought it would be Shabazz Muhammad and while 'Bazz has been amazing of late for the UCLA Bruins freshman Jahii Carson at Arizona State had brought the ASU hoops program back from the dead. Carson averages 17.7 points and 5.7 assists per game. Carson has already had one 30 point game along with four more games over 20 points. In addition Carson has had six games with seven or more assists.
Defensive Player of the year
It might come as a surprise after watching the Oregon State Beavers under Craig Robinson but sophomore forward Eric Moreland is playing elite defense right now. Moreland can guard either forward spot or play spot duty at center if needed. Moreland averages over 11 rebounds a game and is a terror at blocking or altering shots. In his non-conference slate of games he gets 2.7 blocks a game.
Coach of the year
I thought about giving the award to ASU's Herb Sendek or maybe even Arizona's Sean Miller but I give it to Dana Altman. The Ducks were picked to finish 7th in the Pac-12 going into the season, lost a key recruit in Devon Branch, dealt with the departures of Devoe Joseph, Garrett Sim, Olu Ashaolu, and others and haven't looked like they've missed a beat. Turnovers are an issue, as they were last year. Altman is playing with six freshman, two junior college transfers, and just four players with Altman experience and yet they've looked like the league's second best team. On top of that does Oregon have a top-10 or top-15 player on the roster? I don't think they do right now.
Dana Altman has his Oregon Ducks looking like an NCAA Tournament team this year despite being picked 7th in the preseason.
All League Team
G - Jahii Carson FR ASU 17.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.1 rpg
G - Jordan Adams FR UCLA 17.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.8 apg
G - Allen Crabbe JR Cal 20.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.3 apg
F - Solomon Hill SR Arizona 12.7 ppg, 5 rpg, 3.1 apg
F - Eric Moreland SO OSU 10.9 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.7 blks
Honorable mention: Nick Johnson (Arizona), Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA), Andre Roberson (Colorado), Mark Lyons (Arizona), Kyle Anderson (UCLA).
Predicting the finish
7. Oregon State
10. Washington State