WALNUT CREEK, Calif., - In a vote of the 10 Conference coaches, ARIZONA STATE sophomore guard James Harden has been named the 2008-09 Pacific-10 Men's Basketball Player of the Year, WASHINGTON guard Isaiah Thomas has been named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year; USC junior forward Taj Gibson has been named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year; Washington senior guard Justin Dentmon has been named Pac-10 Most Improved Player of the Year and Lorenzo Romar of Washington is the Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Commissioner Tom Hansen announced today. In a vote of the Pac-10 Coaches during their meetings last spring, the league restructured the All-Conference honors from three teams of five players each, to a 10-player first team and a five-player second team.
The Complete Conference Honors:
Jon Brockman, WASH, F, Sr., 6-7, 255, Snohomish, Wash. (Snohomish HS) Chase Budinger, ARIZ, F, Jr., 6-7, 218, Encinitas, Calif. (LaCosta Canyon HS) Patrick Christopher, CAL, G, Jr., 6-5, 215, Compton, Calif. (Dominguez HS) Darren Collison, UCLA, G, Sr., 6-0, 160, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (Etiwanda HS) Justin Dentmon, WASH, G, Sr., 5-11, 185, Carbondale, Ill. (The Winchendon School, Mass.) James Harden, ASU, G, So., 6-5, 218, Los Angeles, Calif. (Artesia HS) Jordan Hill, ARIZ, F, Jr., 6-10, 235, Atlanta, Ga. (The Patterson School, N.C.) Jeff Pendergraph, ASU, F, Sr., 6-9, 240, Etiwanda, Calif. (Etiwanda HS) Jerome Randle, CAL, G, Jr., 5-10, 160, Chicago, Ill. (Hales Franciscan HS) Taylor Rochestie, WSU, G, Sr., 6-1, 186, Santa Barbara, Calif. (Tulane)
Taj Gibson, USC, F, Jr., 6-9, 225, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Stoneridge Prep) Daniel Hackett, USC, G, Jr., 6-5, 215, Pesaro, Italy (St. John Bosco HS) Josh Shipp, UCLA, G/F, Sr., 6-5, 220, Los Angeles, Calif. (Fairfax HS) Isaiah Thomas, WASH, G, Fr., 5-8, 180, Tacoma, Wash. (South Kent School, Conn.) Nic Wise, ARIZ, G, Jr., 5-10, 177, Houston, Texas (Kingwood HS)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: James Harden, Arizona State FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Isaiah Thomas, Washington DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Taj Gibson, USC MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Justin Dentmon, Washington COACH OF THE YEAR: Lorenzo Romar, Washington
PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE YEAR
HARDEN becomes the third Arizona State player to earn Pac-10 Player of the Year, joining Eddie House (2000) and Ike Diogu (2005). He's also the third sophomore ever selected, joining California's Jason Kidd (1994) and Arizona's Mike Bibby (1998). Harden leads the league in scoring (20.8 ppg), 13th in rebounding (5.4 rpg), eighth in assists (4.1 apg), and second in steals (1.7 spg). Since the 1996-97 season, only five other players in the nation have averaged at least 20 points, five rebounds, four assists and shot over 50 percent from the field (courtesy of STATS LLC). He's posted 20 or more points 16 times this season, including a career-high 40 vs. UTEP (Nov. 30). In two seasons, he's accumulated 1,229 points.
PAC-10 FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
THOMAS becomes the fourth Husky to earn Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and the first since Mark Pope was tabbed in 1992. Thomas was sixth in the league in scoring (15.4 ppg), which led all Pac-10 freshmen. He set a Washington freshman record by scoring 477 points this season, topping former Husky Spencer Hawes (461 points, 2006-07).
PAC-10 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
GIBSON was key in guiding the Trojan defense with a league-leading 2.9 blocks per game. USC allowed the opposition just 63.4 points per game (fourth in the Pac-10) and its defensive field goal percentage of 40.7 percent ranked second in the league. Gibson posted four or more blocks in a game nine times this season, including four of the last five games. His 239 career blocked shots are tops on the USC career list and ranks third all-time in the Pac-10.
PAC-10 MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR
DENTMON was second on the Washington squad, averaging 15.3 ppg (7th in the Pac-10), just two points behind team-leader and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Isaiah Thomas. Entering the season, Dentmon had a career average of 9.4 points per game, while shooting 41.5 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from three-point range. This season, he shot 47.3 percent from the field, 43.2 percent from three-point range (7th in the Pac-10), and 83.7 percent from the free throw line (6th in the Pac-10). He also added 48 steals (1.5 spg) this season.
PAC-10 COACH OF THE YEAR
ROMAR, 50, has guided WASHINGTON to the Pac-10 title with a 14-4 league mark, and a 24-7 record overall. It's Washington's first Pac-10 title since sharing the crown with USC in 1985, and first outright title since 1953 (Pacific Coast Conference). Romar, who has guided the Huskies to their third 20-win season in the last five years, earns Pac-10 Coach of the Year honor for the second time as he was also tabbed by the coaches for the award in 2005. Only two other Washington coaches have received Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors - Bob Bender (1996) and Marv Harshman (1982, 1984). Romar has a career record of 237-166 (.588), while his Washington record stands at 144-78 (.649).
THE VOTE: Coach of the Year, All-Conference, All-Freshman, All-Defensive teams and Most Improved Player are voted on by the coaches. Coaches are not permitted to vote for themselves or