Oumar Ballo didn’t just become a national sensation last week, he also put himself at the top of the list for the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player award.
The first step is winning a conference weekly honor, which happened Monday when Ballo was named Pac-12 Player of the Week.
The 7-foot redshirt sophomore had a monster performance at the Maui Invitational, averaging 21 points and 10.7 rebounds while shooting 79.4 percent (27 of 34) in the three games. He was 14 of 17 for a career-high 32 points and added a career-best 13 boards in Arizona’s 81-79 win over Creighton in the Maui title game, earning him tournament MVP.
For the season, Ballo is averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 76.8 percent. His 114 points in six games is more than one-third of his scoring total in his previous two seasons.
Ballo is Arizona’s first Player of the Week winner since Bennedict Mathurin won the last of his three weekly awards last February en route to being named the league’s Player of the Year. The Wildcats had five POW winners last season, with Christian Koloko and Azuolas Tubelis also grabbing a weekly award in 2021-22.
Arizona, which climbed to No. 4 in the latest Associated Press Top 25, returns to action Thursday at Utah to open Pac-12 play. The Wildcats (6-0) are next at home on Sunday against Cal.