Michelle Smith WBB Feature: What a Pac-12 media awards ballot looks like this season

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This rollicking, compelling, thrilling Pac-12 women’s basketball season has arrived at its final weekend.

With two games to go for each team, there is so much left to be decided. A champion is still to be crowned. Seeds are still left to be determined for the Pac-12 Tournament next week in Las Vegas. The top teams are still jockeying for their NCAA Tournament seeds.

Just a week before the postseason comes the start of awards season.

The annual media ballot for Pac-12 postseason awards went out this week and it’s time to share the difficult choices this voter needed to be make in a memorable, record-setting season full of superlative performances, talent and accomplishments.

Player of the Year
Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon.
 It’s hard to deny Ionescu, the holder of the NCAA’s career and single-season triple-doubles records the top honor for the second year in a row. Oregon, which could clinch a second-straight conference title with a win at Arizona on Friday, has been the pace-setter for most of the regular season and the junior guard has been stellar in every phase of the game. She is averaging 19.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game, the latter ranking her No. 3 in the nation. Ionescu will be a front-runner for national player of the year, but she is not the only Pac-12 player to have an spectacular season.

Also strongly considered: California’s Kristine Anigwe, whose extraordinary individual numbers of 22.9 points and an NCAA-leading 15.9 rebounds per game – a season that rewrote the Cal record books - should rightfully earn her All-American honors. Stanford’s Alanna Smith, the senior forward, has led the Cardinal at 20.1 points and 8.1 rebounds a game, and also leads her team in blocks and steals. She is one of two players in the country to be averaging 20 points, 8 rebounds and two blocks.

Coach of the Year
Cori Close, UCLA.
 The Bruins knew they would be remodeling their program after the departure of Jordin Canada and Monique Billings, two of the program’s best-ever players and WNBA draft picks. And it wasn’t easy. With a lot of players in new roles and new leaders still finding their way, the Bruins started 2-4 and were 8-10 back on January 20, and in danger of not making the NCAA Tournament. What a difference a month makes. With eight wins in 10 games and a 10-6 record in the Pac-12, Close’s Bruins sit in fourth place in the conference standings after playing two games each against Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State, and are back in the national rankings for the first time this year. Sophomore Michaela Onyenwere has turned into a star. They have five wins over ranked opponents (four of those on the road), none bigger than last week’s win at Oregon, a game in which they trailed by 22 points in Eugene before storming back to win.

A close second: Oregon State’s Scott Rueck, who guided his team through the loss of heart-and-soul player Kat Tudor, the integration of transfer Destiny Slocum into the lineup and the development of Joanna Grymek to turn the Beavers into a title contender yet again. Oregon State is going to be a tough out for any team as the postseason approaches. A big home win over Oregon cements their spot as one of the nation’s elite teams heading into March.

Freshman of the Year
Dre’Una Edwards, Utah. The Utes had a pair of great freshmen in their lineup this year, and it was Edwards, the forward from Las Vegas, who stood out week after week. Edwards was averaging 11.6 points and 6.7 rebounds a game before she was injured last week against Washington. Edwards’ loss for the season to a knee injury is the sad ending to the beginning of a great Pac-12 career. The Utes will miss her as they look for a late-season rally to help their NCAA chances.

Sixth Player of the Year
Aleah Goodman, Oregon State. Goodman, the Beavers sophomore guard, has been a critical factor in OSU’s success this season as the first player off the bench, with just three starts this season. Goodman came up huge last week in three Beavers’ wins, averaging 18 point in crucial late-season wins over Oregon, UCLA and USC. She is averaging 10.8 points a game and leads OSU with 65 3-pointers in her role as a reserve.

All-Pac-12 team
Kristine Anigwe, California – Cal record-holder in scoring and rebounding
Ruthy Hebard, Oregon – Pac-12 leader in FG percentage at 69.3
Borislava Hristova, Washington State – Pac-12’s third-leading scorer (20.8 ppg)
Megan Huff, Utah – 5th leading scorer in the Pac-12; 16 double-doubles this season
Kianna Ibis, Arizona State – Scored in double figures in all but 4 games this season
Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon – Seven triple-doubles in 2018-19
Maite Carzola, Oregon – Eighth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio
Aari McDonald, Arizona – Pac-12’s leading scorer at 24.9 ppg
Amber Melgoza, Washington – 14 20-point games this season; averaging 18.1 points a game
Minyon Moore, USC – USC’s second leading scorer, top rebounder and leads in assists and steals.
Michaela Onyenwere, UCLA – Scored 20 points in 13 games and double figures in 16 straight games.
Mikayla Pivec, Oregon State – Double-figures scoring in 25-of-28 games this season; 8.2 rebounds a game best among guards in the Pac-12
Satou Sabally, Oregon – 17.2 points a game; two 30-point games this season
Destiny Slocum, Oregon State – Nine 20-point games this season, including six in last 10
Alanna Smith, Stanford – One of four players in NCAA since 99-00 with 1,600 career points, 150 made 3-pointers and 200 blocks

All-Defensive Team
Kristine Anigwe, Cal – 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steals per game
Aari McDonald, Arizona – ranks second in Pac-12 at 2.6 steals per game
Aliyah Mazyck, USC – ranks third in Pac-12 at 2.5 steals per game
Chanelle Molina, Washington State – 1.7 steals per game
Alanna Smith, Stanford – leading Pac-12 at 2.5 blocks per game

All-Freshman Team
Lindsay Corsaro – 7.4 points, 4.3 rebounds per game; second on team in 3-pointers made (31) and assists (82)
Dre’Una Edwards, Utah – 11.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game
Dru Gylten, Utah- 8.7 points, 5.6 assists per game
Lacie Hull, Stanford – 5.5 ppg, team-leading 40 steals
Cate Reese, Arizona – 11.5 points per game

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