Players like Noah Dickerson, Jaylen Nowell and Matisse Thybulle are reasons why the Washington Huskies went from being picked 10th in the preseason to becoming a bubble team going into the conference tournament.
So it only made sense Monday when all three were honored by the Pac-12 Conference. Dickerson, a junior forward, was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team for the first time in his career.
Nowell, a freshman guard, was named to the All-Freshman Team. Thybulle, a junior guard, was selected to the conference’s All-Defensive Team.
Dickerson, who is 6 feet, 8 inches, averaged 15.4 points and 8.4 rebounds. He was the Huskies’ second-leading scorer and broke into double figures in all but two Pac-12 games this season.
He led UW with 21 and 16 rebounds in the team’s upset win over then-No. 25 Arizona State. Days later, Dickerson put up 25 points and seven rebounds in another upset over then-No. 9 Arizona.
Those performances led to Dickerson being named the Pac-12 Player of the Week and the NCAA Player of the Week.
Nowell, who starred at Seattle Garfield, was a four-star prospect who immediately made his mark on the team.
He led UW in scoring with 16.0 points while shooting 45.2 percent from the field over a span of 32.3 minutes per game.
The 6-4 Nowell also established himself as one of the best first-year closers in college basketball by scoring key baskets in late-game situations.
As for Thybulle, it’s possible his awards haul could just be starting.
The Pac-12 will announce individual honors at 5 p.m. PST on the Pac-12 Network. The show will reveal who won accolades such as conference’s Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
Thybulle is a strong candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year award while first-year coach Mike Hopkins is a favorite to win John R. Wooden Coach of the Year award.
Thybulle led the Pac-12 in steals and ranks third nationally. Earlier in the year, he set the school record for most steals in a season. His three steals in the team’s most recent game against Oregon, saw him become the school’s all-time leader with 196.
Should Thybulle win the award, it would be the first time in school history a UW player has captured the honor.
Hopkins came to UW after spending 20 years as an assistant at Syracuse, where was also a two-year captain for the Orange.
He transformed the Huskies from a 9-22 team that only won two Pac-12 games last season into being a 20-win team that’s currently on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
If Hopkins wins, it’ll be the seventh time UW has won the award. Also, he’ll be the first coach to win the award in his maiden season since Tony Bennett won in the 2006-07 campaign with Washington State.
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark