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March 11, 2013
Hill, Lyons earn All-Pac-12 first-team honors
After helping No. 18-ranked Arizona win 24 games this season, four Wildcats were honored Monday by the Pac-12 Conference coaches.
Seniors Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons were among the 10 first-team all-conference selections, while guard Nick Johnson and center Kaleb Tarczewski were tabbed honorable mention selections on the all-defensive and all-freshman teams, respectively.
"I'm really happy for them," UA head coach Sean Miller said. "We always talk about with team success comes individual accolades."
Lyons led Arizona in scoring at 14.9 points per game, followed by Hill's 13.6 average. Hill's 5.2 rebounds were good for second on the team while Lyons' team-best 85 percent shooting from the free-throw line helped UA pull out a number of close games this season.
"It's a great honor. My first time in this conference and to be honored as a first-team All-Pac-12 player is definitely great, feels great," said Lyons, who spent the previous four years in the Atlantic 10 at Xavier.
It was Hill's second consecutive first-team selection.
"It just shows my hard work is noticed," said Hill, who shot 38.4 percent from the 3-point line after an offseason in which he put significant time into improving his jump shot. "
Johnson, who collected 60 steals this season, continually drew the toughest assignment on the opposing team's top offensive performer.
Both Miller and Hill said an argument could be made that Johnson should have been included with the five honorees on the all-defensive team. But a decline in his personal numbers and the team's overall defense for a significant portion of the season did not help his cause.
"I'm sure one of the things that hurt him is just the last three weeks of our team's overall defense sliding, and you get grouped into that," Miller said.
Added Hill: "I was a little surprised by (his omission) to tell you the truth. … But his team knows what he does on defense. We know what type of player he is.
"Maybe if he wouldn't have hit that little wall, he would have definitely seen his name on that list."
Colorado forward Andre Roberson, the Pac-12's defensive player of the year, Jordan Bachynski and Carrick Felix of Arizona State, Josh Huestis of Stanford and Arsalan Kazemi of Oregon were picked ahead of Johnson.
Tarczewski scored 6.6 points and pulled down a team-best 5.9 boards per game while starting all 30 games in his first season. The 7-footer shot 52.6 percent from the field and displayed steady improvement as the season went on, Miller said.
"You pick a team (in the Pac-12), and you're going to see talented frontcourt players - many times big, physical players who are older," Miller said. "Kaleb, with each passing day and game, I believe progressed."
California junior Allen Crabbe was named the player of the year, Dana Altman of Oregon was selected as coach of the year, ASU's Jahii Carson and UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad shared freshman of the year honors, and Stanford's Dwight Powell earned the league's most improved award.