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Mid-Conference Season All-Pac-12 Picks

Which players are in position for postseason honors now that we’re halfway through conference play?

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of Pac-12 play I put out my picks at the time for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd team all-conference selections (it’s at the bottom). Now that we are halfway through the Pac-12 slate though we can realistically start to figure out who the candidates really should be.

It isn’t the reason that the Pac-12 died but it has been a travesty that the conference puts forth a 10-person 1st team and a 5-person 2nd team. We don’t subscribe to such nonsense here. You get three teams of 5 players s the basketball gods intended. Those teams don’t need to have strict positional definitions but my goal is for all of them to make sense playing together in the modern game. There should only be one player who absolutely doesn’t take 3’s and you should ideally have at least 2 ball handlers.

Asterisks represent which team they were on from my picks in December.

Current All-Pac-12 First Team

G- KJ Simpson*, Colorado (19.2 pts, 5.3 reb, 4.35 ast, 51/47/89%)

There’s no way to leave Simpson off of the first team. He has gone from volume scorer to efficient superstar from last year to this season. Simpson is 4th in the conference in points per game and 25th in the country in 3-pt percentage. There’s really not anything he can’t do on the basketball court and he’s also averaging nearly 2 points per game. Easy pick.

G- Caleb Love**, Arizona (19.3 pts, 4.7 reb, 3.1 ast, 45/35/86%)

Love’s numbers have crossed the line into overwhelming category. In conference play he is averaging 23 points per game while shooting 61% on 2’s, and 39% on 3’s. He’s not distributing the ball anymore but when you’re a high volume shooter with that kind of efficiency, why would you pass the ball? Arizona has had some puzzling losses lately but it’s hard to blame Love when he’s this red hot.

F- Keion Brooks Jr.*, Washington (20.6 pts, 7.0 reb, 1.5 ast, 50/41/77%)

Brooks’ free throw shooting has slipped down to 73% in Pac-12 play but is scoring is actually up compared to the non-conference. He’s a legitimate 40% 3-point shooter now and has scored between 20 and 27 points in 10 of UW’s last 12 games. There are times when he disappears from games but a consistent and efficient 20 points per game from a wing is going to get you on the 1st team.

F- Branden Carlson*, Utah (16.7 pts, 6.5 reb, 1.5 blk, 47/35/73%)

Carlson plays the fewest minutes per game of anyone under consideration for the first team but is still 7th in points per game, 8th in rebounds per game, and 4th in blocks per game. He’s able to step out and knock down 3-pointers or dominate around the basket. He torched Washington the first time they played and then struggled the second time when UW double teamed him every time he touched the ball.

C- Fardaws Aimaq, California (15.3 pts, 10.8 reb, 0.9 blk, 50/36/60%)

It was tough to decide who should get the 1st team center spot but I ended up deciding on Aimaq even though he wasn’t on any of my teams in December. That was in part because Cal looked like the worst team in the conference at that point but have now gotten off to a 4-5 conference start which would’ve been a winning record if not for Moses Wood’s buzzer beating 3-pointer. Aimaq leads the conference in rebounds and is 13th in points per game while shooting over 35% on 3’s.

Current All-Pac-12 Second Team

G- Jordan Pope***, Oregon State (17.8 pts, 2.5 reb, 3.7 ast, 46/39/86%)

I definitely considered bumping Pope all the way up to the 1st team but couldn’t quite justify it. He made the shot of the year in the Pac-12 with his buzzer beater to upset Arizona last week. The Beavers are somehow not in last place in the conference standings and that’s entirely thanks to Pope who has to do absolutely everything for them and yet still is an extremely efficient scorer. If he played on a team with above average players around him to take some of the attention away then he’d be averaging over 20 per game.

G- Boogie Ellis*, USC (18.1 pts, 4.1 reb, 3.4 ast, 45/45/74%)

This might have been the most difficult one of all. USC has been the biggest disappointment in the conference as many had them as their preseason pick but they’re alone in last place. Ellis has missed time so he hasn’t been as durable as most of the others on the list. At the same time, USC is 0-4 without Ellis in the lineup and has lost each game by double digits. He’s one of the best high volume shooters in the country and has made 47% of his 3’s in Pac-12 play. I could see the argument for 3rd team but I have him here.

G- Myles Rice***, Washington State (15.6 pts, 2.5 reb, 3.6 ast, 46/33/79%)

I guess it’s time for back-to-back Cougs averaging 15.6 points per game. The three-point shooting has been a struggle since Pac-12 play started (27%) but he’s 4th in assist rate in conference play so the playmaking has compensated for it. The Cougars are in NCAA tournament consideration despite losing 4 starters and Rice is a big reason why. Plus, there’s no way to not be rooting for Rice after he missed last season due to receiving chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Amazing story.

F- Isaac Jones**, Washington State (15.6 pts, 7.8 reb, 0.9 blk, 58/08/73%)

Jones transferred from Idaho and his scoring has dropped about 4 points per game. Otherwise, Jones is just as effective and is 8th in the conference in scoring and 4th in rebounds per game. He’s not an exceptional shot blocker but is a great rebounder and efficient option in the post. It’s close between him and Jaylon Tyson for this spot but I’m giving Jones the edge due to the team success.

C- Maxime Raynaud**, Stanford (13.9 pts, 9.9 reb, 0.9 blk, 55/30/80%)

The fantastic frenchman narrowly missed out on the 1st team spot to Aimaq and they have put up very similar numbers. Reynaud is averaging fewer points and rebounds per game but has been more efficient for a slightly better team. The difference is in their style as Aimaq loves to draw contact but Raynaud prefers to fade away from the basket with jump hooks relying on his height. I’ll reward the physicality but Maxime has been a breakout star.

Current All-Pac-12 Third Team

G- Frankie Collins, Arizona State (13.7 pts, 3.7 ast, 3.2 stl, 43/30/64%)

Going with 3 guards on the 2nd team made it tough here. The players who are 1st, 3rd, and 5th in the conference in assists per game have all missed 4+ conference games due to injury. That meant the spot kind of came down to either Collins or UW’s Sahvir Wheeler who has just been too inconsistent and a minus on defense. That stands in contrast to Collins who isn’t a great scorer but is averaging 1.1 more steals per game than anyone else in the conference and is 7th in steal rate in the country.

G- Jermaine Cousinard, Oregon (14.9 pts, 4.6 reb, 2.8 ast, 44/39/71%)

This was essentially the last spot I filled on the roster and ultimately I decided it had to go to a Duck given that they are in 2nd place in the conference. Their best player is N’Faly Dante but he has only played 6 games due to injury. Cousinard is the only player to start all 20 games and he’s leading the team in scoring while nearly 40% from 3-point range. That’s enough to give him the nod

F- Tristan da Silva**, Colorado (15.6 pts, 5,4 reb, 2.8 ast, 50/37/84%)

Da Silva missed a few games including the first one against Washington but is just a model of consistency. He has scored in double figures in all but one game but never more than 22 so far this year. It’s an exceedingly 3rd-team all-conference season as he’s rarely the best player on the court but he’s always one of the 3 best players on the court.

F-Jaylon Tyson***, California (19.4 pts, 7.0 reb, 3.5 ast, 49/37/79%)

I probably should’ve found a way to get Tyson on the 2nd team. He’s leading the conference in scoring in a dead heat with Keion Brooks in both points and rebounds. Tyson hasn’t been quite as efficient as Brooks but has more than doubled him up in both assists and steals per game albeit on a worse team. The big problem for him as been the 3.3 turnovers per game.

C- Adem Bona***, UCLA (12.1 pts, 6.2 reb, 1.2 blk, 60/0/64%)

It came down to Adem Bona and Oumar Ballo for this spot and I decided to reward Bona’s shot blocking and defense. He leads the Pac-12 in block rate at 10% and is top-20 in the country for the 2nd year in a row. His playmaking and scoring have picked up and UCLA has won 3 of 4 after looking for a bit while they had given up on Mick Cronin. Bona’s energy and passion on the court deserves much of the credit for that.

Dropped from Previous Picks

G- Isaiah Collier**, USC (15.4 pts, 2.6 reb, 4.1 ast, 51/31/66%)

The #1 recruit in the country has been good for a freshman but hasn’t lived up to expectations. He has missed the last 4 games with an injury and really struggled with turnovers despite scoring 15+ per game.

F- Keshad Johnson***, Arizona (11.8 pts, 6.3 reb, 1.8 ast, 55/37/78%)

There’s an argument for Johnson over da Silva but the nearly 4 points per game difference was hard to make up even though Keshad has been extremely efficient and a little better defensively.

C- Oumar Ballo*, Arizona (12.3 pts, 9.0 reb, 0.9 blk, 59/0/47%)

Ballo has been the best offensive rebounder in the conference but the shot blocking is way down and his abysmal free throw shooting has made him unplayable in close games at times.

Other Honorable Mention

G- Sahvir Wheeler, Washington (15.4 pts, 3.3 reb, 6.0 ast, 44/27/69%)

I’m guessing that Wheeler might show up on a lot of lists since he’s 2nd in the Pac-12 in assists per game (by 0.1 and has played 5 more games) and 12 in points per game. That usually gets you on the list. I just have watched too many games where Wheeler struggles on defense and badly bricks 4-5 pull-up jumpers to elevate him over some of the names. He could definitely play his way on down the stretch though.

No one else has both played enough games and excelled in more than one category of rebounds/assists/steals/blocks to realistically be involved.

All-Defense Team

G- Frankie Collins, Arizona State

G- Kobe Johnson, USC

C- Adem Bona, UCLA

C- Maxime Raynaud, Stanford

C- Joshua Morgan, USC

All-Freshman Team

G- Myles Rice, Washington State

G- Sebastian Mack, UCLA

G- Jackson Shelstad, Oregon

G- Isaiah Collier, USC

F- Kwame Evans, Oregon