After hobbling through a few games, Azuolas Tubelis looked pretty close to his old self in wins over UCLA and USC last weekend. While his sprained left ankle is still probably not 100 percent, it was good enough to help him earn an award.
Tubelis is the Pac-12 Player of the Week, honored after averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds in leading Arizona to home wins over a pair of ranked conference opponents, the first time it has done that in the same weekend since 2002.
The 6-foot-11 sophomore had 18 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes against USC, his first double-double this season, after going for 14 points and 5 rebounds in just 19 minutes against UCLA. He’d played just 43 minutes in the Wildcats’ previous four games, missing a win at Cal after suffering an ankle injury early at Stanford on Jan. 20.
“When I sprained my ankle at Stanford it was really painful,” Tubelis said after the USC game. “I didn’t play at Cal. I tried to play at UCLA because I told Coach (Tommy Lloyd) that I would play no matter what. I had some minutes but still that wasn’t me. We came here and I did better against ASU and then I kind of felt that I can play against UCLA. I just gave everything I have. I left everything I have on the court.”
It is the first Player of the Week award for Tubelis, who last season was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week in consecutive weeks. He’s the third UA player to win POW this season, following Bennedict Mathurin’s back-to-back honors in December and a win by Christian Koloko in January.
Arizona is the first men’s basketball team to have three different POW winners in a season since 2018-19.