University of Washington

Huskies dominate Pac-12 awards as Jaylen Nowell, Matisse Thybulle, Mike Hopkins honored

University of Washington guard Jaylen Nowell (5) pulls up for a jump shot in the second half. Washington played Washington State in a NCAA basketball game at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019.
University of Washington guard Jaylen Nowell (5) pulls up for a jump shot in the second half. Washington played Washington State in a NCAA basketball game at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

Washington had a heavy presence in the Pac-12 awards announced on Monday.

Sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year while senior guard Matisse Thybulle was named the Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Both players were also selected to the All-Pac-12 first team and Thybulle was named to the all-defensive team.

UW head coach Mike Hopkins was named the back-to-back Pac-12 Coach of the Year.

The Huskies’ leading scorer, Nowell averages 16.3 points on 50.4 shooting from the field. Nowell also averages 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He is a Naismith Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year finalist.

Nowell registered double-digit scoring in 28 of his 31 games this season and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week three times. He’s the first UW player to be named Player of the Year since Brandon Roy in 2006. Chris Welp also won the award in 1986.

This is an individual award, but it’s the team,” Nowell said on the Pac-12 Network. “It wouldn’t have happened without any of those guys. Without David Crisp being the leader that he is, without Matisse being the leader that he is. At the end of the day this is definitely a great award, but it wouldn’t have happened without the team.”

Thybulle averages 9.5 points, 3.5 steals, 2.3 blocks and 3.1 rebounds per game. He’s just the second repeat winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award in conference history. A semifinalist for for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, Thybulle is the only player since 1992-93 to record at least 100 blocks and 60 steals in a season.

With 110 steals on the season, Thybulle broke his own UW single-season mark set a year ago. He also tied the Pac-12 single-season record held by Jason Kidd (1992-93).

“The blocks are fun because it’s like they never expect even though they come into games knowing that’s what I’m trying to do,” Thybulle said on the Pac-12 Network. “That’s exciting. But steals, there’s nothing like it. Whether it’s me or who gets a fastbreak dunk or I get the steal and throw it up to Jaylen or Dave, I don’t think there’s anything that can compare to that.”

The Huskies finished 9-22 (2-16 Pac-12) the season before Hopkins took over and guided them to a 21-13 (10-8) record last season. This year, Hopkins led UW to a 24-7 (15-3) record and a Pac-12 regular season championship. He’s the first coach in Pac-12 history to win the award in each of his first two seasons.

Forward Noah Dickerson was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention selection. Dickerson averages 12.9 points and 7.2 rebound per game. He’s just the sixth player in UW history to record 1,500 points and 900 rebounds in his career. Dickerson has recorded seven double-doubles this season.

Washington State’s Robert Franks, who averages 22.1 points and 7.1 rebounds, was also named to the All-Pac-12 first team. CJ Elleby was named to the all-freshman team. He averages 14.9 points and 7.0 rebounds for the Cougars.

Arizona State guard Luguentz Dort was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. Colorado’s Tyler Bey was named the Most Improved Player while forward Utah’s Donnie Tillman was the Sixth Man of the Year.

The first-seeded Huskies will open Pac-12 tournament play at noon on Thursday against the winner of No. 8 USC or No. 9 Arizona.

Lauren Kirschman is the UW Huskies beat writer for The News Tribune. She previously covered the Pittsburgh Steelers for PennLive.com. A Pennsylvania native and a University of Pittsburgh graduate, she also covered college athletics for the Beaver County Times from 2012-2016.


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