Arizona Basketball

Anderson’s benching could put Arizona Wildcats’ Johnson in Pac-12 Player of Year lead

ARIZONA JUNIOR CHOSEN ONE OF 10 SEMIFINALISTS FOR THE NAISMITH PLAYER OF YEAR AWARD

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Nick Johnson is the only Pac-12 player listed among 10 Naismith Award semifinalists

Nick Johnson is the only Pac-12 player listed among 10 Naismith Award semifinalists (YouTube video capture)

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The one-game suspension of Kyle Anderson last night in UCLA’s double-overtime loss against visiting Oregon can adversely affect the sophomore guard’s opportunity to win the Pac-12 Player of the Year award.

Anderson’s breach of team rules could open the door for Arizona junior guard Nick Johnson to get the nod from the league’s coaches. Johnson, who today was selected one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Player of the Year Award, has played well enough to earn the conference player of the year selection on his own merits.

Johnson leads the Wildcats in scoring (16.2 points per game) and is second on the team in assists (2.7) and steals (1.1). He is shooting a career-best 45.1 percent from the field (despite a mid-season slump) and 76.9 percent from the free throw line. He also is averaging a career-high 3.9 rebounds a game.

Johnson is also a finalist for the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Trophy.

He is the only Pac-12 player listed among the Naismith semifinalists, further signifying his place among his conference peers.

The other semifinalists: freshman guard Tyler Ennis, Syracuse; senior guard Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati; senior forward Doug McDermott, Creighton; senior guard Shabazz Napier, UConn; freshman forward Jabari Parker, Duke; freshman forward Julius Randle, Kentucky; senior guard Russ Smith, Louisville; sophomore guard Fred VanVleet, Wichita State; and freshman guard Andrew Wiggins, Kansas.

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ARIZONA’S NATIONAL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
1987-88 — Steve Kerr (USBWA Most Courageous Athlete)
1988-89 — Sean Elliott (Wooden Award, AP, Kodak/NABC,Chevrolet/CBS-TV, Basketball Times, Basketball Weekly, Lapchick Trophy/Hall of Fame, Hoop Scoop, All-Star Sports Report)
1998-99 — Jason Terry (Sports Illustrated,CBS/Chevrolet, Rawlings/Basketball Times)
2002-03 — Jason Gardner (Frances Pomeroy Naismith/Basketball Hall of Fame)
NATIONAL FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
1996-97 — Mike Bibby (Basketball Weekly)
1999-2000 — Gardner (Basketball Times, USBWA, ESPN.com)

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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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