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Derrick Williams is first Wildcat to be Pac-10 Player of Year in 12 years

We salute you: Derrick Williams is the Pac-10 Player of the Year.
Photo by Chris Morrison, US-PRESSWIRE

Arizona Wildcats sophomore forward Derrick Williams is the sixth player in school history to be the Pac-10 Player of the Year for men’s basketball.

The Pac-10 announced its postseason awards Monday, with Williams taking the top honor, as selected by the league’s coaches. He averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in the regular season.

Arizona’s Sean Miller was selected the Pac-10 Coach of the Year. Here is our earlier argument for why Miller was the right choice over Cal’s Mike Montgomery.

This is the seventh overall Player of the Year award for Arizona — Sean Elliott won it twice — but the first since Jason Terry in 1999.

Since that season — and this is truly amazing — only Washington State, Oregon State and Arizona had not had a Pac-10 Player of the Year, until Monday.

Arizona State has had three — three! — POYs since Arizona last had one: Eddie House, Ike Diogu and James Harden. Not that those Sun Devils were undeserving; it’s just a strange quirk.

But Williams has ended that drought.

In Pac-10 games — which is what this should be all about, given the equity in scheduling — Williams averaged 18.5 points and 9.0 rebounds. He shot 59.9 percent from the field, 55.2 percent from 3-point range (16 of 29) and 69.8 percent of his free throws.

He attempted 159 free throws in conference games, more than any other player.

Here are Arizona’s previous winners of the Pac-10 Player of the Year Award:

–Sean Elliott, forward, 1987-88
–Sean Elliott, forward, 1988-89
–Chris Mills, forward, 1992-93
–Damon Stoudamire, guard, 1994-95
–Mike Bibby, guard, 1997-98
–Jason Terry, guard, 1998-99

Now, that is also amazing. In a 12-season span, Arizona earned half of the league’s Player of the Year honors.

The Pac-10 selects 10 players to its first-team and five players to its second team. No other Arizona player made those lists — or any other of the categories. Here is the official release from the Pac-10.

MoMo Jones received votes for the all-conference team. Jordin Mayes received votes for the six-man All-Freshman team. Kyle Fogg received votes for the All-Defensive team.

Cal’s Allen Crabbe was chosen the league’s Freshman of the Year. USC’s Marcus Simmons was chosen the Defensive Player of the Year. Washington’s Matthew Bryan-Amaning was picked as the league’s Most Improved Player.

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