Arron Afflalo (6’5 Junior Guard, UCLA Bruins, 17.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg)
Heading into the stretch run of the season, the clear-cut favorite to win the PAC-10 player of the year is Arron Afflalo of the UCLA Bruins. Afflalo is second in the PAC-10 in scoring at 17.4 ppg, no easy feat for the defensively focused Bruins. But more importantly than his scoring average is Afflalo’s clutch baskets, usually scoring late in the game when the pressure is greatest. Looking at the key wins so far this season against Texas A&M, USC, and Arizona, Afflalo has been at his best with the game on the line. Without Afflalo, the Bruins easily lose 3-4 more games this season.
Darren Collison (6’1 Sophomore Guard, UCLA Bruins, 13.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 5.7 apg)
The ultra-quick point guard for the UCLA Bruins is the key to the smothering defense that the Bruins use. It’s no surprise this one-man press leads the conference in steals with 2.2 and second in assists at 5.7. Collison was twice name PAC-10 player of the week this season. His importance to the Bruins was highlighted when the Bruins lost to West Virginia without Collison who was injured. The Afflalo-Collison pair easily make up the best backcourt in the nation.
Nick Young (6’6 Junior Guard/Forward, USC Trojans, 17.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.4 apg)
The swingman for the USC Trojans is currently third in the PAC-10 in scoring at 17.2 and has had some dominate performances so far this season. Like the 30 points he had in the Trojans first win over Arizona in the year. The primary reason for the improved win-loss record this season for the Trojans has been due to Nick Young. The Trojans go as Nick Young goes. When Young is scoring, the Trojans are most likely winning. Young is projected to be a mid-low lottery pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
Aaron Brooks (6’ Senior Guard, Oregon Ducks, 17.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.5 apg)
It’s too bad that the Oregon Ducks went on that bad stretch in early February because Aaron Brooks was a lock to win the PAC-10 player of the year heading into February, nobody was hotter than Brooks in January. Brooks not only leads the PAC-10 in scoring at 17.6, but is in the top 10 in assists, free-throw percentage, steals, three-pointers made, assist-to-turnover ration, and finally he leads the PAC-10 in minutes played. Brooks increased his scoring average by almost a full seven points from last season. Like Afflalo, Brooks has excelled this season at making big shots, leading his teams to wins over UCLA, Washington St., and Arizona.
The following players are all candidates that are being considered for the All-PAC-10 team for the 2006-2007 season in no particular order.
Ryan Anderson (California Bears)
Marcus Williams (Arizona Wildcats)
Lawrence Hill (Stanford Cardinal)
Bryce Taylor (Oregon Ducks)
Josh Shipp (UCLA Bruins)
Kyle Weaver (Washington St Cougars)
Derrick Low (Washington St. Cougars)
Ivan Radenovic (Arizona Wildcats)
Chase Budinger (Arizona Wildcats)
Spencer Hawes (Washington Huskies)
Quincy Pondexter (Washingotn Huskies)
Mustafa Shakur (Arizona Wildcats)
Tajuan Porter (Oregon Ducks)
Brook Lopez (Stanford Cardinal)
Marcel Jones (Oregon St. Beavers)
Jeff Pendergraph (Arizona St. Sun Devils)
Taj Gibson (USC Trojans)