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Arizona’s Pelle Larsson makes Julius Erving Award preseason watch list

arizona-wildcats-pelle-larsson-julius-erving-award-preseason-watch-list-pac12-sixth-man-sweden Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year did not make the first squad of the preseason all-conference team, landing on the second team. But a national award thinks much higher of Arizona’s wing.

Pelle Larsson is one of 20 players on the preseason watch list for the Julius Erving Award, given annually to college basketball’s top small forward. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior wing is one of three Pac-12 players on the list, along with Stanford’s Harrison Ingram and UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr., both of whom were on the preseason first team in the conference.

Larsson is coming off a 2021-22 season in which he averaged 7.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 37 games, starting twice. He played 20.7 minutes per game, shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from 3-point range while making 81.8 percent of his free throws.

Over the summer he competed for Sweden in qualifiers for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, and coach Tommy Lloyd is hoping Larsson can build off that performance in 2022-23.

“Pelle has to kind of manifest a little bit of his success,” Lloyd said. “He has to have a little bit more belief in himself, because he’s a really good basketball player. He’s definitely trending in the right direction and I’m excited to see how the journey goes.”

Larsson joins Kerr Kriisa as UA players to make preseason watch lists for awards sponsored by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Kriisa is on the list for the Bob Cousy Award given to the top point guard in the country.

Arizona players have won two Hoophall awards: Stanley Johnson won the Julius Erving Award in 2015 and Deandre Ayton won the Karl Malone Award (best power forward) in 2018.