On Monday, the Pac-12 announced its conference awards — and Gary Payton II represented the Beavers well. He repeated as an All-Pac-12 first team selection, the first OSU player to repeat since David Lucas in 2004-05. And then he was named Pac-12 defensive player of the year for the second straight year, the only player to do so in conference history.
Neither honor was surprise. You can argue that Payton II means more to his team than any other player in the conference, and the numbers back it up. He led OSU in points, rebounds, assists, and steals this season. And he made national waves with several of his monster dunks this season, including one in the final seconds of Saturday’s huge win against UCLA. He clearly is one of college’s top and most entertaining players. If this season hasn’t cemented Payton II as an OSU legend, I don’t know what more he could’ve done.
Perhaps the biggest surprise awards-wise was that Tres Tinkle didn’t make the all-freshman team, instead he received honorable mention. Yes, with only five spots, there wasn’t much wiggle room. But Tinkle was third in scoring and second in rebounding among freshmen in conference play, and was clearly OSU’s second best player this season. Arizona’s Alonzo Trier is a fine player, but he missed seven games due to injury. Even though Tinkle is out himself, now, I think he should’ve made it over Trier. But I like Tinkle’s odds of winning bigger honors down the road.
Congrats again to Payton II and Tinkle for their fantastic seasons, and here’s to Payton elevating his game even more tomorrow against Arizona State. Go Beavs! (RW).