Shabazz Muhammad's average of 18.3 points per game is tops among the nation's freshmen. It might help the Bruin win Pac-12 Player of the Year.


Ben Howland's list of basketball's five greatest players starts with Bill Russell, and continues to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar before reaching Michael Jordan at No. 3, Magic Johnson fourth, and Kobe Bryant fifth.

There's no LeBron or the Big O in the UCLA coach's top five.

"It's all based on making your teams win," he said last week. "That's how the great ones are judged."

Pac-12 coaches spent the weekend deciding how to judge the league's own players before voting for conference Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Most Improved Player and Coach of the Year.

They picked a 10-man first team and five-man second team all-league squad; a five-man all-freshman team; and a five-man defensive team.

The Pac-12 will announce the results today.

Here's a look at the Player of the Year candidates, many of whom will take their place on the all-conference team as a consolation prize:

The favorites

The consensus top two candidates:

Cal shooting guard Allen Crabbe

• The case for Crabbe: Led the conference in scoring all season, finishing with 18.6 points per game. His 1,489 career points and 204 made three-pointers are tops among current Pac-12 players.

• His team: The junior was the best player on a 20-10 (12-6) Golden Bears team that tied for second after winning seven of its last eight.

• They said it: "I can't imagine anyone putting more time or energy in trying to stop a single guy," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said last week.

UCLA small forward Shabazz Muhammad

• The case for Muhammad: Averaged 18.3 points, third most in the Pac-12 and tops among freshmen nationwide. Averaged 5.1 rebounds but dished out only 24 assists in 28 games.

• His team: Muhammad was the leading scorer on the 23-8 (13-5) Pac-12 champion Bruins.

• They said it: "What I'm most pleased with, is, I think some of the other parts of his game have really come along," Howland said.

The next tier

They won't likely win, but you could make an argument:

Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson

• The case for Carson: Averaged 17.7 points - fourth-most in the Pac-12 - and five assists while playing 37 minutes per game, most in the league.

• His team: At 20-11 (9-9), ASU won 10 more games than last season after being picked to finish 11th by the media.

• They said it: "Maybe he warrants that honor," WSU coach Ken Bone said, "because of what he has been able to do to help his team become really, really good."

UCLA point guard Larry Drew II

• The case for Drew: The only Bruin to start every game led the Pac-12 with 7.71 assists per game and a 3.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.

• His team: The Bruins won the league outright.

• They said it: "If UCLA would win our conference, I would vote for (Drew) as conference player of the year," UA coach Sean Miller said before the Wildcats played UCLA nine days ago.

Also receiving votes

Look for these players on the all-league team:

• Washington State power forward Brock Motum: His 18.4 points per game average is second in the Pac-12.

• Colorado power forward Andre Roberson: Leads the nation with 11.5 rebounds per game.

• Stanford power forward Dwight Powell: He and Motum were the only players to score 10 or more in every Pac-12 game.

• Oregon small forward E.J. Singler: His 11.5 points per game led the Ducks.

• Arizona small forward Solomon Hill: Played the most minutes for the UA, averaging 13.6 points.

• Oregon State shooting guard Roberto Nelson: Led the league with 19.1 points per conference game.

• Arizona State small forward Carrick Felix: Perhaps the league's best defender, Felix led ASU in scoring 10 times.

• Washington shooting guard C.J. Wilcox: Averaged 16.8 points.

• Oregon State power forward Eric Moreland: Needs two blocks to break his own school single-season record.

• Arizona point guard Mark Lyons: His 14.9 points per game ranks in the league's top 11.

• Colorado point guard Spencer Dinwiddie: Averaged 15.4 points and 3.0 assists.

• Oregon power forward Arsalan Kazemi: The Rice transfer averaged 9.6 rebounds.

Contact reporter Patrick Finley at or 573-4145. On Twitter @PatrickFinley.