UCLA lands three on Phil Steele’s preseason All-American teams

Myles Jack is one of three UCLA players on Phil Steele's preseason All-American list. The linebacker is pictured during UCLA's "Spring Showcase" at the Rose Bowl on April 24, 2015. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Myles Jack is one of three UCLA players on Phil Steele’s preseason All-American list. The linebacker is pictured during UCLA’s “Spring Showcase” at the Rose Bowl on April 24, 2015. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Three UCLA players received spots on Phil Steele’s preseason All-American teams, the annual list released on Monday morning.

Linebacker Myles Jack earned a second-team nod, while nose tackle Kenny Clark and center Jake Brendel made the fourth team. Jack and Clark are the Bruins’ two most talented defensive players, and both are likely bound for the NFL draft after their junior seasons. Brendel, a redshirt senior, is a fourth-year starter who has played in 39 of 40 possible games.

Six Bruins landed on Steele’s preseason All-Pac-12 first team, although Brendel settled for a second-team spot behind USC center Max Tuerk — a preseason first-team All-American. In addition to Jack and Clark, the first team included receiver Jordan Payton, offensive tackle Caleb Benenoch, defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, and cornerback Fabian Moreau.

The most notable absence on the list is left tackle Conor McDermott. The 6-foot-9 lineman started the last seven games of the 2014 season, and projects to be the most important player on the offensive line besides Brendel.

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UCLA’s John Savage wins his first Pac-12 Coach of the Year honor

UCLA coach John Savage is surrounded by players as he hoists the College World Series championship trophy on June 25, 2013. (Eric Francis/AP)

UCLA coach John Savage is surrounded by players as he hoists the College World Series championship trophy on June 25, 2013. (Eric Francis/AP)

Even UCLA’s most accomplished baseball coach can break new ground. On Wednesday, John Savage was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the first time.

Savage had been named national coach of the year by multiple publications in 2013, following the Bruins’ first and only College World Series title. However, the conference’s top honor had eluded him until his 11th season in Westwood, one during which UCLA set a school record with 22 wins in league play.

The Bruins, who lead all Division I teams with a 2.16 ERA, earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament on Monday and will host a regional this weekend. Their first game is against Cal State Bakersfield at 8 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Closer David Berg (7-1, 0.73 ERA) was also named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, becoming the only Bruin to earn the honor twice in his career. Continue reading

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Norman Powell named UCLA’s only All-Pac-12 first team member

Norman Powell (4) goes for a steal during UCLA's 77-63 win over Long Beach State on Nov. 23. Powell finished the regular season leading the Bruins in points (16.3) and steals (60), and was named to the All-Pac-12 first team. (Stephen Carr/Staff)

Norman Powell (4) goes for a steal during UCLA’s 77-63 win over Long Beach State on Nov. 23. Powell finished the regular season leading the Bruins in points (16.3) and steals (60), and was named to the All-Pac-12 first team. (Stephen Carr/Staff)

Norman Powell blossomed into UCLA’s go-to option in his final season as a Bruin, and was rewarded with a spot on the All-Pac-12 first team. The 6-foot-4 guard led his team in scoring, steals and free throw attempts, and ranked third in rebounds and assists.

Powell was also a conference all-defensive honorable mention for the second year in a row. UCLA had landed multiple players on the All-Pac-12 first team in three of the last four seasons.

Freshman Kevon Looney, who averaged 12.3 points and 9.5 rebounds, didn’t make the 10-member first team but earned a second-team nod. Sophomore point guard Bryce Alford was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention, rounding out a relatively unsurprising showing for the Bruins in the postseason awards.

The big shocker came in Joseph Young winning Pac-12 Player of the Year, becoming the first Oregon player to do so since Luke Ridnour in 2003. Young led the conference with 19.8 points per game, but isn’t as well-rounded a player as Arizona’s T.J. McConnell or Utah’s Delon Wright — two players who were the presumptive frontrunners for the league’s top individual honor.

It certainly helped Young’s case that Oregon won nine of its last 10 games to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. Head coach Dana Altman was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons.

See the full list of All-Pac-12 honors below: Continue reading

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UCLA’s All-Pac-12 selections led by … Ishmael Adams?

UCLA's Ishmael Adams, pictured breaking up a pass intended for USC's Nelson Agholor, was the lone Bruin on an All-Pac-12 first team. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff)

UCLA’s Ishmael Adams, pictured breaking up a pass intended for USC’s Nelson Agholor, was the lone Bruin on an All-Pac-12 first team. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff)

Another round of All-Pac-12 awards, another chorus of approval from across the conference.

Just kidding. As always, postseason honors generate a good amount of chatter, as fans of every team ask why their favorite players were snubbed. But even considering that type of bias, UCLA’s placements on the all-conference teams on Tuesday night were … particularly eye-raising. (You can see the full results, as voted on by Pac-12 head coaches, at the bottom of this post.)

The biggest surprise was Ishmael Adams’ status as the Bruins’ lone first-team pick. Five defensive backs were featured instead of the usual four due to ties, but the scrappy 5-foot-8 cornerback might not even be the best on his own team. The problem is consistency. He made his share of big plays — he returned two interceptions for touchdowns this season — but also saw moments where he gave up key catch or committed a costly penalty.

His presence on the All-Pac-12 first team was even more striking considering the absence of linebacker Eric Kendricks, who recently broke the Bruins’ all-time tackles record. The senior settled for a second-team spot, behind Arizona’s Scooby Wright — the league’s defensive MVP — and Washington’s Hau’oli Kikaha and Shaq Thompson. Continue reading

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Pac-12 to announce all-conference football teams at 8 p.m.

The Pac-12 will announce its all-conference football teams tonight at 8 p.m. PT, part of the league’s effort to build its television presence.

Instead of the customary press release, the teams will be revealed during the Pac-12 Football Weekly program on Pac-12 Networks. Players of the year and coach of the year will be announced beforehand.

UPDATE: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, while Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright picked up top defensive honors. Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez won Coach of the Year.

Ducks tailback Royce Freeman and USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson were named the conference’s top freshmen on offense and defense, respectively.

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