UCLA men’s basketball earns multiple Pac-12 awards; Jaquez wins Player of the Year
Senior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. lifts up a picture frame with his jersey during UCLA men’s basketball’s Senior Night ceremony. Jaquez was named Pac-12 Player of the Year on Tuesday morning. (Jeremy Chen/Assistant Photo editor)
By Jon Christon
March 7, 2023 9:39 a.m.
This post was updated March 7 at 10:56 p.m.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. has officially been crowned as the top player in the conference.
The senior guard/forward was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year on Tuesday morning, marking one of four individual conference accolades awarded to No. 2 UCLA men’s basketball for the 2022-2023 regular season. Jaquez’s win gives UCLA its first conference player of the year since Kevin Love won it for the 2007-2008 season.
“It feels great, man,” Jaquez said. “Just a lot of hard work.”
Junior guard Jaylen Clark won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, freshman forward Adem Bona won Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and coach Mick Cronin took home Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
The only two individual categories in which the Bruins did not have a winner were Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved Player, which went to USC guard Reese Dixon-Waters and Arizona center Oumar Ballo, respectively.
“Let’s get the brooms out,” Jaquez said. “That’s a pretty clean sweep.”
Jaquez marks the eighth conference player of the year winner in program history, with UCLA moving into second place all time behind Arizona for most winners since the award was introduced in 1975.
The senior ranked in the top five in the Pac-12 in points per game, rebounds per game and steals per game, with regular-season averages of 17.5 points, eight rebounds and 1.5 steals a night. He beat out Arizona forward Azuolas Tubelis, who averaged a conference-leading 19.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, for the award.
“As a freshman, … if you would have told me four years later we’d win the Pac-12 championship and I’d be Pac-12 player of the year, I don’t know if I would have believed you,” Jaquez said.
Jaquez was named to the Pac-12 All-Conference First Team alongside teammate redshirt senior guard Tyger Campbell.
Clark, meanwhile, joined Russell Westbrook as the program’s only Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year awardees since the conference reinstituted the honor in 2008. The junior guard also earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team with Bona and a place on the Pac-12 All-Conference Second Team.
“Defensive player of the year always goes to a big man, so for a guy like Jaylen Clark, … it’s harder,” Cronin said. “But I’d be shocked if Jaylen Clark didn’t win that award unanimously.”
Bona also was a Pac-12 All-Conference honorable mention.
On the sidelines, Cronin picked up his second Pac-12 Coach of the Year honor after also winning the award for the 2019-2020 season. He is now one of 11 multiple-time winners of the award and the first in UCLA history.
“That’s coaching staff of the year,” Cronin said. “I have a tremendous staff.”