Stanley Johnson became the eighth player in Arizona men’s basketball history to earn Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors on Monday, joining Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and T.J. McConnell as UA players to earn All-Pac-12 honors. Hollis-Jefferson and McConnell were also named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team.
With three players on the All-Pac-12 first team, the league champion Wildcats are the only program with multiple first-team honorees, and Arizona’s four total All-Pac-12 selections are also a league high. UA is the only program with multiple players on the five-man Pac-12 All-Defensive Team.
The league’s freshman leader in scoring, steals, free throws made and free throw attempts, Johnson is the second-straight Pac-12 Freshman of the Year for Arizona after Aaron Gordon claimed the award in 2014. He was also the lone freshman named to the All-Pac-12 first team
Johnson leads the Wildcats in scoring (13.9/game) and rebounds (6.6/game), and is one of just two freshmen in the major college basketball conferences averaging at least 13.5 points and six rebounds per game. He has scored in double figures 25 times in 31-career games, leading the Wildcats in scoring 14 times and rebounds on 11 occasions, and has posted three double-doubles.
In November, he was named MVP of the EA Sports Maui Invitational after averaging 15.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game as Arizona claimed the tournament crown.
The Fullerton, Calif., native is also one of 10 finalists for the Wayman Tisdale Award, presented annually to the nation’s top freshman, and one of five finalists for the inaugural Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award.
McConnell took the league by storm en route to first-team All-Pac-12 honors after being named to the second team last year, averaging 11.1 points on 54.3 percent shooting, while leading the conference in assists (6.3/game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.14), in Pac-12 games.
He is currently the league leader in assists (6.3/game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.25) for the entire season, ranking 11th and seventh nationally, respectively, in those categories. For the year, he averages 9.6 points on 49.4 percent shooting and 3.8 rebounds per game.
The Pittsburgh native has led Arizona in assists in 29 times this season and 58 times in 69-career games with the Wildcats. McConnell has scored in double figures 15 times this season, reached double figures in assists four and recorded two double-doubles.
A Pac-12 All-Defensive Team honoree for the second time in as many years, McConnell ranks third in the Pac-12 and 20th nationally with an average of 2.1 steals per game. His 65 total steals place him two away from tying Ken Lofton (1989) and Reggie Geary (1996) for ninth on UA’s single-season chart.
With 397 total assists and 129 total steals during his time at UA, McConnell is approaching the best two-year totals in program history in both statistical categories.
On Monday, he was also named one of five finalists for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.
One of the most explosive all-around players in the conference, Hollis-Jefferson was named first-team All-Pac-12 and a member of the Pac-12 All-Defensive team.
The Chester, Pa., native ranks fifth in the Pac-12 with a .523 field goal percentage, leading to an average of 11.2 points per game that ranks 24th in the league. He has scored in double figures 23 times, led Arizona in scoring five times and rebounds on 10 occasions, and posted a pair of double-doubles.
Routinely tasked with guarding the opposition’s top perimeter threat, Hollis-Jefferson leads UA in blocked shots (27), ranks second in rebounds (6.5/game) and third in steals (1.1/game), averaging 1.3 steals per game in Pac-12 play to rank ninth in the conference.
Hollis-Jefferson has shown marked improvement from a 2013-14 campaign in which he was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team, shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and 70 percent from the free throw line, and averaging almost a full rebound per game more.
After losing the 2013-14 stretch run to injury, Ashley made a tenacious rehab effort this summer and came back with a vengeance on his way to honorable mention All-Pac-12 accolades. Ranked second on the team in scoring and third in rebounds, he ranks 22nd in the Pac-12 in scoring (11.6/game) and 11th in field goal percentage (.498).
The San Francisco native has started every game for the Wildcats, averaging 27.8 minutes per game. He is averaging a career-high 1.9 offensive rebounds per game and has attempted a career-best 131 free throw attempts, the third-most on the team. Ashley has scored in double figures 23 times on the year, leading the Wildcats in scoring eight times. He has paced UA in rebounds four times and blocks on eight occasions.
UA will open Pac-12 Tournament play at noon MST on Thursday when it faces the winner of the first-round game between California and Washington State at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Pac-12 Networks will televise the game, and Brian Jeffries and Ryan Hansen will have the call on the Arizona IMG Sports Network.