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A deeper look into the Pac-12 basketball awards

A quick look at the Pac-12 season awards alludes to how iffy, questionable and underwhelming the year went in the conference's men's basketball realm.

A lack of supreme talent coupled with no runaway team defined a season that might be the lowest of lows -- we hope -- for the Conference of Champions as it begins to rebuild its image into a deep and powerful hoops league.

California Golden Bears guard Jorge Gutierrez came away with the 2012 Player of the Year honor, a selection clearly aided in how well Mike Montgomery's squad did relative to the rest of the league. As was the similar case last year, when Arizona's Derrick Williams came away with the award after leading the Wildcats to a first-place finish, Cal's second-place finish went a long way in Gutierrez taking the POY after finishing 12th in the Pac-12 in scoring and 12th in steals.

That's because when you slice it up league-wide, no one player really stood out this season.

In the Arizona Wildcats' case, Solomon Hill's 12.3 points per game isn't far off from Gutierrez's 12.9, and finishing the year second in the Pac-12 with a rebounding average of 7.9 is just one example of another player who could have won the honor.

Washington Huskies freshman guard Tony Wroten Jr., who won the Freshman of the Year award, led the Huskies in scoring, but the very similar numbers -- and in the end, overall team impact -- between himself and teammates Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox perhaps hurt his cause.

Meanwhile, Oregon State's Jared Cunningham, Wazzou's Brock Motum and Oregon's Devoe Joseph were the top three scorers in the Pac-12, but their teams didn't win enough for them to be under consideration.

Is the wide range of options a sign of solid overall talent?

Perhaps. Discounting Utah, Arizona State and USC, the Pac-12 really was a pretty even conference, as teams in the middle of the pack up into the top beat up on one another (and in the end, that hurt the conference's chances for more than two bids to the NCAA tournament).

Or, does the lackluster seasons of all the candidates for the POY award reflect an underwhelming conference that's lacking supreme talent?

This is the more likely possibility. There's not one player in the Pac-12 that could be considered an NBA lottery pick. Though it's a deep draft as it, it's likely that, for once, the conference will retain the majority of its younger players going into next year, and finally, the Pac-12 could begin improving from an overall rebuilding effort that first began after the one-and-done recruiting class of 2007.

And the rest of the awards go to ...

As for the Arizona Wildcats receiving accolades, Hill and Kyle Fogg made the All Pac-12 First Team that is composed of 10 players. None of Sean Miller's crew appeared on the five-player Second Team, but Jesse Perry made honorable mention.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez also took home the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honor, beating out Fogg, who made the All-Defensive First Team and was likely up there in the voting (the 12 league coaches voted, though they weren't allowed to vote on their own players).

Guard Nick Johnson made the All-Freshman squad while point guard Josiah Turner was honorable mention on that list as well.