Yahoo! Sports’ All-Pac-10 team
Before he became a star, Arizona’s Derrick Williams was an afterthought.
As the least-heralded member of Arizona’s 2009 recruiting class, Williams was nowhere to be found on the Rivals.com Top 100 list. He had been recruited – but not nearly as heavily as the Wildcats’ other signees with an additional star next to their name.
“I always knew what I could do, but a lot of other people didn’t,” Williams said. “It was my job to show them.”
Two years later, Williams has done more than simply prove himself.
A 6-foot-9 forward, Williams is averaging team-highs in both points (19) and rebounds (8.3) for the 18th-ranked Wildcats, who can clinch the Pac-10 title outright by defeating Oregon in Saturday’s regular-season finale.
Williams – who originally signed with USC – shoots 61 percent from the field and has posted 10 double-doubles. Along with being a first-team All-American candidate, Williams has been selected as the Yahoo! Sports Pac-10 Player of the Year.
Also earning praise for a strong performance in 2010-11 is Cal’s Mike Montgomery, who has been chosen as the Yahoo! Sports Pac-10 Coach of the Year.
Somehow, Montgomery managed to get a winning season out of a team that lost its top four scorers (Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson, Patrick Christopher and Jamal Boykin) from last year. Cal enters its final regular season game with an overall record of 16-13, which includes a 9-8 mark in the Pac-10.
Jorge Gutierrez (14.8 points), Harper Kamp (14.4 points) and Markhuri Sanders-Frison (11.1) combine to average more than 40 points. None of them had averaged more than 5.5 points per game prior to this season. That’s a credit to Montgomery, who edged out Arizona’s Sean Miller for the award.
Miller has done an outstanding job of getting Arizona’s program back on track, but Montgomery didn’t have the Pac-10 Player of the Year on his roster or the luxury of playing before sellout crowds in Berkeley. Montgomery got more than anyone could’ve expected out of the Golden Bears, who own wins against schools such as Temple, New Mexico, UCLA, USC and Washington State.
F Reeves Nelson, UCLA, sophomore – Averages 13.9 points and ranks second in the Pac-10 with nine rebounds per game … Shoots 57.3 percent from the field … Has 12 double-doubles … Posted team-highs in points (27) and rebounds (16) in last week’s victory over Arizona … Averaged 11.1 points as a freshman last season … Has led UCLA to a 21-9 record following a 14-18 season in 2009-10.
F Nikola Vucevic, USC, junior – The Pac-10’s rebounding leader grabs 10.4 boards per contest … Also averages a team-high 17.6 points, a mark that ranks third in the league … Blocks 1.3 shots per game … Size and mobility have helped him blossom into an NBA prospect … Has 13 games of 20 points or more … Has posted a double-double in his last seven games.
F Derrick Williams, Arizona, sophomore … Ranks second in the Pac-10 in scoring with 19 points per game and is fifth in rebounding with 8.3 boards per contest … First team All-American candidate has scored in double figures in all but one game … Has 10 double-doubles … Had 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting against Kansas … Scored 20 or more points 13 times … Shoots 61 percent from the field.
G Isaiah Thomas, Washington, junior – Third-year starter leads the Pac-10 in assists with 5.7 per game … Boasts a team-best scoring average of 16.6 points … Has scored in double figures in all but three games … Has a career scoring average of 16.3 points per game … Posted season-highs in points (27) and assists (13) in a Jan. 16 victory over Cal … Combined for 20 assists in two games against Arizona.
G Klay Thompson, Washington State, junior – Leads the Pac-10 in scoring with 21.4 points per game … Also averages 5.1 rebounds and four assists … Shoots 41 percent from 3-point range … Scored 30 or more points in four games … Averaging 26.5 points in his last four games … Has a career scoring average of 17.6 points … Helped get Washington State on the NCAA tournament bubble after a last place finish in the Pac-10 last season.
F Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Washington, senior
F Harper Kamp, Cal, junior
G Jeremy Green, Stanford, junior
G Jorge Gutierrez, Cal, junior
G Malcolm Lee, UCLA, sophomore
F Joevan Catron, Oregon, senior
F Justin Holiday, Washington, senior
F Alex Stepheson, USC, senior
G Jared Cunningham, Oregon State, sophomore
G Trent Lockett, Arizona State, sophomore
Player of the year: Derrick Williams, Arizona
Coach of the year: Mike Montgomery, Cal
Freshman of the year: Allen Crabbe, Cal
Newcomer of the year: Faisal Aden, Washington State
Defensive player of the year: Marcus Simmons, USC
Sixth man of the year: Kevin Parrom, Arizona
Most improved: Joevan Catron, Oregon
Most underrated: Harper Kamp, Cal