"It's a huge honor," said Bachynski on Monday after practice. "I mean, just the tradition behind this conference is huge to me and I pride myself on my defense and it feels good to be recognized.
"Coach Musselman always said that defense is huge. I remember one thing he said was, 'Everyone in the NBA Developmental League can score. What sets the NBA guys and the D-League guys apart is their defense.' So, that's something that I've always strived for and something that sets me apart and is something that I love to do."
Along with leading the nation in blocked shots, Bachynski also became the Pac-12's all-time leader in that category, surpassing the previous mark held by Arizona's Anthony Cook (278 from 1985-89). Bachynski finished the regular season with 309 blocks in his career and 128 for the year, breaking the conference's single-season record for blocks which he set just last season (120).
"He's had an outstanding season, especially on that defensive end where he anchored us in the middle," said Head Coach Herb Sendek. "Obviously everyone is aware of his great shot blocking and the records that he's set but he also just changes and alters so many other shots.
"He's been a great basket presence for us and we're really happy for him and proud of him that he would get that honor."
But Bachynski wasn't the only Sun Devil honored on Monday as point guard Jahii Carson was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team. The sophomore averaged 18.9 points and 4.5 assists per game while helping guide the Sun Devils to their fifth 20-win season under Sendek and school-best 16-1 record at Wells Fargo Arena in 2013-14.
"I'm just happy to just be recognized as one of the better players in the Pac-12," he said. "It's always an honor for me to get something like that."
It marked the second straight season that Carson has been voted on the All-Conference team, making him just the ninth Sun Devil to earn multiple all-conference honors at Arizona State (most recently James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph, 2008 & 2009). Senior Jermaine Marshall was also named an all-conference honorable mention after averaging 15.4 points per game for the Sun Devils while shooting 45.2% from the field and 41.1% from deep.
Not Looking Ahead
Despite losing four of its last six games to close-out the regular season, including being swept last week against Oregon and Oregon State, Arizona State (21-10, 10-8 Pac-12) is still forecasted by most bracketology experts as one of the 64 teams expected to be included in this year's NCAA Tournament. But that's not slowing down the Sun Devils as they prepare for this week's Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.
"Obviously the NCAA tournament is in the back of our minds but that's not something that we're really focusing on right now," said Bachynski. "We're focused on our next game, whoever that be, Washington State or Stanford. We've never hung a banner at Wells (Fargo Arena) and that's still a goal of ours. The season is not over and if we start resting on our laurels, we're not in yet.
"That's what I think a lot of people don't realize. We're not in the tournament yet and we still have to win. It's not a sure thing."
With its third place conference finish, Arizona State receives a first round bye in the tournament before facing the winner of Stanford and Washington State on Thursday night. The day off gives the Sun Devils an additional day to rest, re-group, and prepare for what they expect to be a three day grind. "I think that us having a three seed will definitely help us," commented Carson. "We get a little bit of rest. Guys are able to think about what we can do to prepare for this tournament. I think we're going to have a lot of momentum coming in. I know everybody is excited. Tournaments are always different and anything can happen and we like our odds.
"We've just got to press reset and be desperate, in a good way. We've got to be hungry and win games.
"You always help yourself by continuing to win and we're not going to spend a lot of time or a lot of energy trying to handicap all the different scenarios," added Sendek. "It behooves us to go into the tournament and have all of our energy invested into Thursday night's game. I am very pleased with the fact that in a leaguer that was so strong this year that our men did earn the third seed and I think that points very favorably towards the NCAA tournament."
Ready for the Big Stage
It's no secret that Jahii Carson has always played better on the road than at home. In 22 true road games, the sophomore has averaged 21.1 points per game but has always managed to elevate his game even higher in the city of bright lights.
In five career games as a Sun Devil in Las Vegas, Carson is averaging 28.8 points per game, which includes a career-high 40 point effort against UNLV earlier this season. Carson also set a previous career-best last year when he scored 34 points against Stanford in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
"I feel like it's show time in Vegas," said Carson. "Everybody has all the energy, the gambling is going around, I feel like people are there to see a show so I try to put on one."
Carson and the Sun Devils' next show will be this Thursday against the winner of Stanford/Washington State at 8:40 on Fox Sports 1.
All-Pac-12 Honorees All-Pac-12 First Team: Jordan Adams (UCLA), Kyle Anderson (UCLA), Jahii Carson (ASU), Justin Cobbs (California), Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Nick Johnson (Arizona), Dwight Powell (Stanford), Chasson Randle (Stanford), Josh Scott (Colorado), Delon Wright (Utah).
Player of the Year: Nick Johnson.
Defensive Player of the Year : Jordan Bachynski
Freshman of the Year: Aaron Gordon.
Most Improved Player of the Year: Anthony Brown (Stanford).
Coach of the Year: Sean Miller (Arizona).