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Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. in elite company with Pac-12 award

Jaime Jaquez Jr. is the third Latino to win the Pac-12 Player of the Year Award.

UCLA All-American Jaime Jaquez Jr. continues to make more history. The Mexican American guard-forward was named the Pac-12 Conference’s Men’s Basketball Player of the Year on Tuesday.

Jaquez is only the third Latino to earn the Pac-12 Player of the Year Award. He follows Puerto Rican center Jose Ortiz, who won the award at Oregon State for the 1986-87 season. Mexican point guard Jorge Gutierrez won the 2011-12 Pac-12 POY award at Cal Berkeley.

Jaquez became UCLA’s first Pac-12 Player of the Year selection since Kevin Love in 2008. He is ready to play in the Pac-12 Tournament and make a deep push in this year’s March Madness.  Jaquez joins Marques Johnson, David Greenwood, Kenny Fields, Ed O’Bannon, Aaron Afflalo, and Love as the seventh UCLA player to win the prestigious award. 

Pac-12 Latino History

Jose Rafael Ortiz Rijos was a tremendous basketball player at Oregon State. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 52 games. He was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in 1986 and 1987. 

The Aibonito, Puerto Rico, native won the Pac-12 Player of the Year award over eventual Hall of Famer Reggie Miller in 1987. 

Piculín” was the second Puerto Rican ever selected in the NBA draft when the Utah Jazz picked him in the first round. He followed Butch Lee, who was drafted in 1978 by the Atlanta Hawks.

Jorge Gutierrez was a crafty point guard who received numerous honors and awards as a senior. Gutierrez was selected with his second first-team All-Pac-12, third Pac-12 All-Defensive team, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and Pac-12 Player of the Year.

The Chihuahua native went undrafted coming out of college. In 2014, Gutierrez signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets. He made his NBA debut in mid-March of that year, becoming the fourth Mexican to play in the NBA behind Horacio Llamas, Eduardo Najera, and Gustavo Ayon. 

With the “Si Se Puede!” mentality, Gutierrez signed a multi-year deal with the Nets and finished the season with them.

Just like the other Latinos, Jaimito will write his own story and look to accomplish more goals at the NBA level.

Hard work pays off

“It’s just a lot of hard work,” Jaime Jaquez Jr. said. “I give a lot of credit to my teammates. I think it was a very competitive race this year.”

Jaquez Jr. averaged 17.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.4 assists while shooting 48.7% from the floor this season. 

The 6-foot-7 phenom earned his second first-team All-Pac-12 honors.. He is also a second-team All-American, according to The Sporting News.

On top of that, he is up for the Oscar Robertson Trophy and the men’s ballot for the John R. Wooden Award.

Jaquez Jr. is looking to accomplish two goals in March on top of those awards. Now, he’ll try to win the Pac-12 Tournament and cut a piece of the championship net at the Final Four in Houston.

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