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Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji wins Pac-12 Freshman of the Year

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Nico Mannion earns all-conference honors

arizona-wildcats-zeke-nnaji-nico-mannion-dylan-smith-miller-pac12-awards-freshman-all-conference Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

From the least-regarded of Arizona’s three freshman starters to the best one in the league, the 2019-20 season was tremendous for Zeke Nnaji. And now it’s official.

Nnaji was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year on Monday, while also making the league’s all-conference and all-freshman team.

The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Nnaji leads Arizona in scoring (16.3 points per game), rebounding (8.6) and field goal percentage (57.3), with a conference-leading 14 double-doubles. He is the 10th different Wildcat to win Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, eight of which have been frontcourt players, and the fifth under coach Sean Miller.

Nnaji was the only Wildcat on the Pac-12’s All-Conference first team, which had 10 players on it, but fellow freshman Nico Mannion was tabbed to the second team. Mannion and Nnaji made up 40 percent of the league’s All-Freshman team, while senior Dylan Smith was an honorable mention selection for the All-Defensive Team.

Other Pac-12 awards announced Monday included Player of the Year (Oregon senior guard Payton Pritchard), Defensive Player of the Year (Colorado junior Tyler Bey), Most Improved Player (UCLA junior Chris Smith), Sixth Man of the Year (ASU junior Alonzo Verge Jr.) and Coach of the Year (UCLA’s Mick Cronin).