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Tyler Bey, McKinley Wright earn All-Pac-12 first team honors for CU basketball

  • Colorado sophomore McKinley Wright cemented his place among the Pac-12's...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer DAILY CAMERA

    Colorado sophomore McKinley Wright cemented his place among the Pac-12's top point guards by getting named to the 2019 All-Pac-12 first team.

  • The strong finish by Colorado sophomore Tyler Bey gave the...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer DAILY CAMERA

    The strong finish by Colorado sophomore Tyler Bey gave the Buffaloes forward a spot on the All-Pac-12 first team.



All-Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball

First Team

G Sedrick Barefield, Utah, Sr.

F Tyler Bey, Colorado, So.

F Bennie Boatwright, USC, Sr.

F Zylan Cheatham, Arizona State, Sr.

F Robert Franks, Washington State, Sr.

G Jaylen Nowell, Washington, So.

F KZ Okpala, Stanford, So.

G Matisse Thybulle, Washington, Sr.

F Tres Tinkle, Oregon State, Jr.

G McKinley Wright, Colorado, So.

Second Team

G Luguentz Dort, Arizona State, Fr.

G Jaylen Hands, UCLA, So.

G Remy Martin, Arizona State, So.

G Stephen Thompson Jr., Oregon State, Sr.

G Kris Wilkes, UCLA, So.

Honorable mention: F Noah Dickerson, Washington, Sr.; F Louis King, Oregon, Fr.; F Nick Rakocevic, USC, Jr.; C Josh Sharma, Stanford, Sr.

Player of the Year: Jaylen Nowell, Washington.

Coach of the Year: Mike Hopkins, Washington.

Defensive Player of the Year: Matisse Thybulle, Washington.

Freshman of the Year: Luguentz Dort, Arizona State.

Most Improved Player: Tyler Bey, Colorado.

Sixth Man of Year: Donnie Tillman, Utah.

All-Freshman Team

F Timmy Allen, Utah

C Moses Brown, UCLA

G Luguentz Dort, Arizona State

F CJ Elleby, Washington State

F Louis King, Oregon

Honorable mention: G Brandon Williams, Arizona.

All-Defensive Team

F Zylan Cheatham, Arizona State, Sr.

G Luguentz Dort, Arizona State, Fr.

F Kylor Kelley, Oregon State, Jr.

G Matisse Thybulle, Washington, Sr.

F Kenny Wooten, Oregon, So.

Honorable mention: C Moses Brown, UCLA, Fr.; G McKinley Wright, Colorado, So.

It was McKinley Wright and Tyler Bey that led Colorado’s surge out of the Pac-12 Conference bottom third over the final 10 games of the regular season. On Monday, the Buffaloes sophomores were recognized for their efforts.

Bey and Wright landed spots on the All-Pac-12 first team, with Wright also earning honorable mention all-defensive team honors. It is the first time CU has boasted two first-team selections since Spencer Dinwiddie and Andre Roberson in 2013.

It was a particularly big Monday for Bey, who also won his first career Pac-12 Player of the Week honor for his contributions to the regular-season closing wins against UCLA and USC. On Monday night, Bey was announced as the winner of the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player award, the second time in four seasons that honor has gone to a CU Buff. George King won it in 2016.

The Buffs went 8-2 down the stretch with Bey recording double-doubles in eight of those games, eventually sharing the Pac-12 lead with 14 double-doubles this season. He recently took over CU’s scoring lead at 13.4 points a game, and his 9.6 rebounds per game ranks second in the Pac-12. That rebounding average is the best by a CU player since Roberson averaged 11.2 during the 2012-13 season.

Bey’s .556 shooting percentage in league games also ranks ninth in the Pac-12. Last week, Bey matched a career-high with 27 points against UCLA and extended his double-double streak to five games, recording 13 rebounds against the Bruins before compiling 17 points and 11 rebounds against USC. Bey went 20-for-33 from the field in the two wins.

Bey’s emergence can be traced back to a Jan. 31 home loss against Oregon State. After going 1-for-7 from the field with only four rebounds, head coach Tad Boyle kept Bey on the bench for the bulk of the second half. He responded in a big way over the final 10 games, averaging 16.9 points and 11.1 rebounds with a .618 shooting percentage during that span.

“I’ve been able to overcome the frustration, and that (OSU) game was really, really frustrating for me, because obviously I didn’t play well,” Bey said. “But I learned from that game. I watch film after every single game, so that helps a lot. I’m learning from mistakes.”

Wright was an honorable mention selection last year as a freshman but overcame a left shoulder injury that will require offseason surgery to cement his place as one of the top point guards in the conference. Wright is averaging 13.0 points, 4.9 assists, and 4.8 rebounds, and he also led the Buffs with 33 steals.

Like Bey, Wright steadily improved his numbers throughout Pac-12 play. He ended the nonconference schedule with a .233 3-point percentage and a 1.60 assist-to-turnover rate. In the league slate, Wright shot .388 from 3-point range with a 1.78 assist-to-turnover rate.

Wright was an all-freshman team selection last year, and this is the second straight year he earned honorable mention accolades for the all-defensive team.

“It’s very special individually,” Wright said. “All the work I’ve put in before practice, after practice. It’s huge for me. having these guys behind me and supporting me. I’m thankful.”

Washington (Matisse Thybulle, Jaylen Nowell) was the only other program to land a pair of first-team selections on the 10-player squad, which is voted on by the league coaches. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players.

Washington’s Nowell won the league’s Player of the Year award, with Thybulle also winning his second consecutive Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award. Huskies coach Mike Hopkins also repeated as the Coach of the Year, while Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort was named Freshman of the Year. Hopkins is the first person to win Coach of the Year in his first two seasons in the league.

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