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Kyle Kuzma Named All-Pac-12 First Teamer

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Kuzma was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team on Monday, a great honor for the junior forward from Flint, MI. Kuzma has evolved a lot as a talented red shirt freshman with so much raw ability. This was Kuzma’s first year as a primary option for the Utes, and for the most part lived up to it with his 16.9 points per game, and 9.2 rebounds. Kuzma’s ability to get touch rebounds and baskets in traffic has been a major part of this team this season, and even better, his defense has taken a step forward, with him being named an honorable mention to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team. I think that may be a bigger honor for Kuz, than the All-First Team nod. Kuzma’s versatility on the floor, with his size, length and athleticism, can be a nightmare for opposing defense. If Kuz can improve his perimeter game, namely his three point shot, he’d be a Player of the Year candidate next season.

SAN FRANCISCO – Utah's Kyle Kuzma was named to the 2017 All-Pac-12 First Team, the league office announced on Monday.

In a vote by all 12 conference coaches, Kuzma was one of 10 players named to the first team. The Flint, Mich., native was also tabbed a Pac-12 All-Defensive Team Honorable Mention selection.

Kuzma led the Utes and ranked fourth among all Pac-12 players with 16.9 points per game, while also averaging a team-best 9.2 rebounds per game. He was fifth in the league with 2.8 offensive boards, while his 6.5 defensive rebounds ranked fourth overall.

Kuzma notched 19 rebounds in Utah's win over Northwest Nazarene in the season-opener and is tied for the second-most rebounds in a single game among all Pac-12 players this season. Only Cal's Ivan Rabb (20) had rebounds more in a game this season. He was also a double-double machine for the Utes this season, collecting a total of 15 double-doubles on the year, which ranks tied for third-most among Utah players over the past 13 years. His 15 double-doubles ranked second-most among Pac-12 players.

Kuzma, who earned both all-conference and all-defensive team honors for the first time in his career, becomes the third Ute in the past four seasons to earn All-Pac-12 First Team honors. Delon Wright was a first team selection in both 2014 and 2015, while Jakob Poeltl was named a first team selection last season.

Utah (20-10, 11-7 Pac-12) earned the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Tournament, which runs March 8-11 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. The Utes have a first-round bye and will face the winner of No. 5 California/No. 12 Oregon State on Thursday, March 9. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m. PST and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.