Miller reflects on awards

Sean Miller won Pac-12 Coach of the Year and had two players that also won awards. Read on for his reaction and more.

Monday was a special day for Arizona, as Sean Miller won the Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Nick Johnson Player of the Year, and Aaron Gordon Freshman of the Year.

"Nick Johnson in my mind is very deserving," Miller said. "Nick's meaning to our team's success, I can't put a value on it because it not only happens on the court, but it also happens off the court.

"He's our natural leader and has had an outstanding season. I am happy he was rewarded for his outstanding regular season."

In addition, Miller feels that each coach in the conference understands what makes Johnson such a special player.

"I think they recognize the ingredients of the championship team," Miller said. "You don't have to look very far to see the importance of Nick Johnson to what we do. Not only on offense, but also on defense. His leadership qualities really stand out as well."

Before the season started, Miller tried to get Johnson involved in numerous camps for the top players in the country, but was turned down.

Now that the regular season is over, Miller believes that snub acted as motivation.

"He did it in a good way," Miller said. "I don't think he walked around like the world is against me as much as he let it roll off his shoulders. He went in the gym and worked really hard.

"He improved his shooting, he continued to develop physically where as a guard there aren't too many more physical in this country."

As far as Gordon goes, it is not a surprise that he won the award for being the conference's best freshman, as he was the easy choice.

"Aaron Gordon, the reason you speak so fondly of him isn't just his statistics, but what Aaron means to our program in terms of his humility, his unselfishness, coming so decorated from high school to college and him being such an easy guy to coach and such a great teammate," Miller said.

"It has been one of the many things we have had that has helped us have such a great season."

At the risk of sounding greedy, Miller admitted that he would have liked to see a few more honors.

"I would have loved to have Kaleb as part of something," he said. "I think he was in the running for most improved, in the running for all defensive team, and may have been close to becoming an all-conference player, but I think the best is yet to come for him and no question he is a big part of what we have done as well."

Miller also believed Gordon should have been on the defensive team, as it was the Wildcats' strength throughout the season.

"You could have put four guys on that team," Miller said. "Statistically if you look at why we won the conference, it is much more towards defense than it was offense.

"That has been the thing that has been consistent regardless of the circumstances and it was in place in the early months and it was in place even at Oregon. For T.J. and Nick to receive that award is very gratifying."


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