If you need a reason to be optimistic about the future of Arizona basketball, here are four of them.
Junior point guard James Akinjo was named to the 10-man All-Pac-12 First Team, redshirt sophomore forward Jordan Brown was named Pac-12Sixth Man of the Year, and freshman forwards Azuolas Tubelis and Bennedict Mathurin made the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team on Tuesday. Tubelis was also an honorable mention for the All-Pac-12 Second Team.
Brown is the first Wildcat to ever win the Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year award. Akinjo is the 11th Wildcat in Sean Miller’s 12 seasons to earn a spot on the All-Pac-12 First Team. The selections of Mathurin and Tubelis mark the second straight year the Wildcats placed two players on the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.
Here is some info on all of them, courtesy of the UA press release:
In his first season of action at Arizona, Akinjo became the first Wildcat since T.J. McConnell in 2015 to lead the Pac-12 in assists in league play with 117. In league games, he ranked seventh in scoring (15.9), fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (43.9), fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.39), and fifth in 3-point field goals made per game (2.15). He scored in double figures 15 times in conference play and reached 20 points or more in seven times. He closed the season averaging 21.0 points per game over the last five games despite playing the most minutes per game of any player in the conference (35.56).
Tubelis arrived in the United States in August and quickly made an impact on the Arizona program, moving into the starting lineup after just six games and closed the year by receiving Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors twice (Feb. 22, March 1). In Pac-12 play, he ranked third in rebounding (7.75), 15th in scoring (13.7), second in offensive rebounds (2.8) and fourth in defensive rebounds (4.95). He scored in double figures 15 of 20 conference games, including a 31-point effort against USC and a pair of 16-point, 15-rebound games against USC and Washington.
Brown started six out the 20 conference games played, just below the threshold of starting one-third or fewer conference games to be eligible for the award, and averaged 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and shot 51.5% from the field. He ranked ninth in the conference in field goal percentage and 13th in blocked shots. He scored in double figures five times and had one double-double in conference play, going for 19 points and 13 rebounds in the win at USC. His season-high scoring output came at Oregon State when he dropped 25 points on 10 of 12 shooting.
Mathurin, a native of Montreal, averaged 10.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in conference play. He ranked fourth in free throw percentage (86.8), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (42.1) and 15th in 3-point field goals made per game (1.6). Mathurin registered two double-doubles in conference action, going for 24 points and 11 rebounds at Washington State and logging 10 points and 13 rebounds in the home win over Washington on Feb. 27. His highest scoring output of the season came at Oregon State, when he dropped 31 points on 10 of 12 shooting and 6 of 7 from behind the 3-point line. He also earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors on Jan. 4.
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