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McKinley Wright IV, Tyler Bey nab All-Pac-12 honors for CU Buffs

Bey named Defensive Player of the Year

Colorado junior Tyler Bey was named the Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year. 
(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado junior Tyler Bey was named the Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

No doubt, neither McKinley Wright IV nor Tyler Bey finished the regular season the way they preferred for the Colorado men’s basketball team.

Yet that didn’t prevent the Buffaloes juniors from making a little program history when the All-Pac-12 league honorees were announced on Monday.

Wright joined elite company in CU basketball lore by earning his second consecutive first team All-Pac-12 selection, one of 10 first-team selections decided in a vote of league coaches. Coaches can’t vote for their own players. Bey landed on the five-player second team and also became just the second Buffs player to win a league’s Defensive Player of the Year award, which Andre Roberson won in the Pac-12 in 2013.

Additionally, Wright and Bey were named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive team. Wright was an honorable mention All-Defensive team selection each of the past two years.

“It means a lot. It’s a testament to my teammates to be able to put me in position to be first team,” Wright said. “Credit to all my hard work and believing in myself, my teammates believing in me and just going out and being me.”

Wright is the third CU player in the Pac-12 era to earn multiple first team All-Pac-12 honors, joining Roberson and Josh Scott. Wright is the 13th CU player overall to earn multiple first team all-conference honors, joining a group that also includes Donnie Boyce, Shaun Vandiver, Scott Wedman, Cliff Meely, Chuck Gardner, Jim Davis, Wilky Gilmore, Ken Charlton, Burdette Haldorson, and Bob Rolander.

A three-year starter for the Buffs, Wright goes into Wednesday’s battle against Washington State in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament with a career-best-tying scoring average of 14.2, along with a career-best 5.6 rebounds per game. Wright is averaging 5.1 assists per game, and during Saturday’s loss at Utah he became just the second Buffs player, after all-time assists leader Jay Humphries, to reach 500 assists in his career. His 5.7 assists per game average in league play led the Pac-12.

Wright also ranks 16th on CU’s all-time scoring list with 1,349 points, with Charlton (1,352) and Buffs radio analyst Scott Wilke (1,366) next on the list.

Bey was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last year and also won the 2019 Most Improved Player award, yet this year he was recognized as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year after posting career-highs in steals (46) while also recording 35 blocked shots. His steals total is tied for the 22nd-best single-season mark in team history, and during the Utah loss Bey became the 10th CU player to record 100 blocked shots in his career.

Bey’s 96 career steals is tied for 23rd all-time. Bey is averaging a career-best 13.7 points per game and his 9.1 rebounds per game tops the Pac-12 overall, though that averaged dipped slightly to 8.8 (second) in Pac-12 games.

“It’s something I really worked for,” Bey said. “I’ve wanted it since freshman year. I’ve talked about it since freshman year to the coaching staff. I’m proud of myself, but I can’t be too satisfied. We’ve still got a whole bunch of work to do in this tournament.”

Oregon’s Payton Pritchard was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and first-year UCLA coach Mick Cronin was named the Coach of the Year.

All-Pac-12 Conference first team

Oscar da Silva, Jr., Stanford

CJ Elleby, So., Washington State

Remy Martin, Jr., Arizona State

Zeke Nnaji, Fr., Arizona

Onyeka Okongwu, Fr., USC

Payton Pritchard, Sr., Oregon

Chris Smith, Jr., UCLA

Isaiah Stewart, Fr., Washington

Tres Tinkle, Sr., Oregon State

McKinley Wright IV, Jr., Colorado

All-Pac-12 Conference second team

Timmy Allen, So., Utah

Tyler Bey, Jr., Colorado

Matt Bradley, So., Cal

Nico Mannion, Fr., Arizona

Jonah Mathews, Sr., USC

Pac-12 Conference All-Freshman team

Nico Mannion, Arizona

Zeke Nnaji, Arizona

Onyeka Okongwu, USC

Isaiah Stewart, Washington

Tyrell Terry, Stanford

Honorable mention (at least three votes): Jaime Jaquez, UCLA.

Pac-12 Conference All-Defensive team

Tyler Bey, Jr., Colorado

Kylor Kelley, Sr., Oregon State

Jonah Mathews, Sr., USC

Bryce Wills, So., Stanford

McKinley Wright IV, Jr., Colorado

Honorable mention (at least three votes): Chris Duarte, Jr., Oregon;  Jalen Hill, R-So., UCLA: Jervae Robinson, Sr., Washington State; Dylan Smith, Sr., Arizona.

Player of the Year: Payton Pritchard, Sr., Oregon.

Defensive Player of the Year: Tyler Bey, Jr., Colorado

Freshman of the Year: Zeke Nnaji, Arizona.

Sixth Man of the Year: Alonzo Verge Jr., Jr., Arizona State.

Most Improved Player of the Year: Chris Smith, Jr., UCLA.

Coach of the Year: Mick Cronin, UCLA.