New coach Tommy Lloyd is expecting big things from Azuolas Tubelis this season, and so are the folks at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, who included Arizona’s 6-foot-11 sophomore on a list of the 20 best power forwards in the country.
Tubelis has been named to the watch list for the Karl Malone Award, given annually to college basketball’s top power forward. Tubelis is one of two Pac-12 players on the watch list, along with Oregon’s Quincy Guerrier and USC’s Isaiah Mobley.
In 2020-21 Tubelis averaged 12.2 points ands 7.1 rebounds while shooting 49.8 percent from the field, something only five other freshmen did for Arizona since 2000. The previous five were all one-and-done NBA prospects, while Tubelis is back for another year.
Last week he was named to the Pac-12’s preseason all-conference team, and Lloyd has said numerous times since training camp began he expects Tubelis to be dominant this year.
“I’ve been talking to him about dominating the paint, running the floor, rebounding with two hands,” Lloyd said. “What I keep saying is, you’re talented, you’re good, you’re productive. Now how do you become a beast, where there’s just, there’s no gimmicks, it’s just toe to toe combat and you’re just better than the other guy and kicking butt. Those are the conversations I’ve been having with him.”
Tubelis is the second UA player to make one of the Naismith preseason lists. Sophomore Bennedict Mathurin is one of 20 being considered for the Jerry West Award given to the top shooting guard in the country.