Miller, Johnson, Gordon Claim USBWA Honors
ST. LOUIS – The Arizona men’s basketball program was well represented on Tuesday when the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) announced its annual district honors, with head coach Sean Miller taking District IX Coach of the Year honors, junior Nick Johnson claiming the District IX Player of the Year Award and freshman Aaron Gordon joining Johnson on the All-District IX team.
The honors are the first USBWA awards for Miller, Johnson and Gordon. Johnson is UA’s second District IX Player of the Year in the last four years, as Derrick Williams claimed the award in 2011, and the all-district selections for Johnson and Gordon mark the second-consecutive season in which the Wildcats have placed two players on the 10-man team.
Arizona is one of three schools nationally, along with Michigan and New Mexico, to have both its district’s Coach of the Year and Player of the Year.
Named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the second time in four years on Monday, Miller has guided the Wildcats to a 108-31 (.777) record since the start of the 2010-11 campaign, marking both the most wins and best winning percentage in the Pac-12 in that time.
Arizona has captured two regular-season conference titles, made a pair of Sweet 16s and advanced to an Elite Eight in that time frame, as well.
UA’s win at Colorado on Feb. 22 was its 25th of the season, marking the third time in Miller’s tenure that the Wildcats have reached the 25-win mark. In that same timeframe, the rest of the Pac-12 has combined to produce just four 25-win seasons.
The Beaver Falls, Pa., native led Arizona to the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for a program-record eight-consecutive weeks this season. UA was the first Pac-12 program to attain the No. 1 ranking since Jan. 2006. Miller also guided this year’s Arizona squad to both the best start (21-0) and longest winning streak (21 games) in program history this season.
Johnson, who was named a first-team All-American by the Sporting News and Pac-12 Player of the Year on Monday, leads Arizona in scoring (16.1) and ranks second on the team in assists (2.8) and steals (1.2). He is shooting 43.9 percent from the floor and 76.6 percent from the free throw line, while averaging a career-high 4.0 rebounds and posting a 1.56 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Gilbert, Ariz., native has reached the 20-point mark a team-high 10 times on the year and has one double-double. He became the 48th member of Arizona’s 1,000-point club in mid-January.
He was the Most Outstanding Player at the NIT Season Tip-Off, and has been named semifinalist for the Naismith Trophy and a finalist for both the Wooden Award and Robertson Trophy. Johnson was also named first-team All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 All-Defensive Team on Monday.
Gordon leads Arizona with an average of 7.8 rebounds per game and eight double-doubles, both tops among Pac-12 freshmen. He was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and first-team All-Pac-12, as well as a third-team All-American by the Sporting News, on Monday.
He also ranks second among Pac-12 freshmen in scoring (12.3) and field goal percentage (.486), as well as third in blocks (0.8). His 241 total rebounds on the season are the most by a freshman under Miller and currently rank fourth on Arizona’s freshman chart.
The San Jose native is one of six national finalists for the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Year Award, and was named to the NIT Season Tip-Off All-Tournament Team in November. He has scored in double figures 23 times on the year and has 10 double-figure rebound games.
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