When Jaime Jaquez Jr. was asked if the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year award was on his checklist of accomplishments this season, he said no.
“I have three awards on my checklist. I already got one, now I want two more,” Jaquez said after UCLA’s win over Arizona State last week, acknowledging the Bruins’ Pac-12 regular-season title and alluding to the Pac-12 tournament and a national championship.
Teammate Jaylen Clark immediately started campaigning for Jaquez.
“I know he’s not going to say it, but he deserves the damn award,” said Clark, before reeling off reasons why the Camarillo native should be the conference’s Player of the Year.
Fun moment from UCLA’s postgame presser after the win over ASU.
I tell Jaime Jaquez Jr. Camarillo boys basketball won, then ask him about winning Pac-12 Player of the Year … a question Jaylen Clark was NOT shy about answering.
“…he deserves the damn award.”
— Tarek Fattal (@Tarek_Fattal) March 3, 2023
As flattering as Clark’s words were, they didn’t matter. Jaquez’s performance spoke for itself, which is why he was officially named the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year on Tuesday morning, beating out Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis.
“It feels great,” Jaquez said of winning the award. “A lot of hard work. It was a very competitive race this year. I give a lot of credit to Tubelis, he played an amazing season.
“I have to credit my teammates for helping me win this. Thank you to the coaches and staff, thanks to everybody.”
Jaquez is the first Bruin to earn the award since Kevin Love in 2008, and the first senior do to it since Ed O’Bannon in 1995. Jaquez led UCLA to it first regular-season title since 2013, averaging 17.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists while starting all 31 games. He currently ranks fourth among all Pac-12 players in scoring and fifth in rebounding.
Jaquez wasn’t the only member of the No. 2-ranked Bruins (27-4) to earn Pac-12 Conference honors. Similar to how UCLA wins games on the court, the shine was divvied up quite well.
Mr. Camarillo turned Mr. Westwood. UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. honored on Senior Night.
Mr. Jaquez literally lifts Mick Cronin off his feet with a bear hug. Lol pic.twitter.com/NAEr66V2tj
— Tarek Fattal (@Tarek_Fattal) March 5, 2023
Tyger Campbell was named to the Pac-12’s first team. It’s the third consecutive season Campbell has been named to the first team and Jaquez’s second.
Jaylen Clark was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, becoming just the third player to win the award and the first since Russell Westbrook (2008). Clark was also named to the All-Defensive team and the Pac-12 second-team.
Adem Bona, the 6-foot-10 forward, was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, earned All-Defensive team honors and also received an honorable mention all-league selection. Bona and guard Amari Bailey were named to the five-person Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.
UCLA coach Mick Cronin was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for guiding the Bruins to an 18-2 mark in Pac-12 play after losing five substantial contributors from last year’s 27-8 team. It’s Cronin’s second Coach of the Year honor in his four seasons in Westwood.
This marks only the second time in the history of the conference in which one school captured the Player, Freshman, Defensive Player and Coach of the Year awards in the same season (also USC in 2021).
USC PLAYERS HONORED
USC’s Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson were named to the first-team Pac-12 team. Ellis, who said this would be his last season with the Trojans last week, finished the season averaging 18.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Peterson, a fifth-year senior, clipped 14.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
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Reese Dixon-Waters was named the Pac-12’s Sixth Man of the Year after coming off the bench 15 times in 16 league games, averaging 9.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in just over 25 minutes per game. He is the second USC player to earn the award, joining Glenn Smith in 1985.
Kobe Johnson and Joshua Morgan were named to the five-person All-Defensive team. Tre White was named to the All-Freshman team.
UCLA (two players), Arizona (two players), USC (two players), Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington State all had student-athletes selected to the 10-person first team.