For the first time this season, Arizona has a Pac-12 Player of the Week, as freshman Lauri Markkanen got the award on Monday.
“He earned it through his play and he has had plenty of weeks where I know he has been a candidate,” Sean Miller said. “I think the magnitude of the trip, playing at both USC and UCLA, obviously the quality of both teams, particularly UCLA, playing that way in that game gave him the nod.”
One of the more impressive aspects of Markkanen’s play this season is the fact that he continues to improve.
“Lauri has had an outstanding season until this point and if you look at his statistics in conference play, he is even better,” Miller said.
“The things that don't show up in the stat sheet, he is even better. Defensively, playing without fouling, he has quietly improved every single day and its a big part of our success.”
Often times, Markkanen is referred to as the best shooting big man in the country, but the reality is that he is simply one of the best shooters.
“It’s hard to fathom a player his size shooting the percentage he is shooting currently,” Miller said. “We have a lot of basketball left, it could certainly come down, but I’m only going on what these guys do every day in front of me and it usually translates.
“Lauri, you can hold him to the standards of a two guard or the best shooters in our conference, and I would put him toe to toe with any of them.
“To Lauri’s credit, he is very unselfish and selective. He pretty much takes what the defense gives, so I think that also reflects his percentage.”