Awards Celebrate these Athletes’ Regular Season Performances

ATLANTA (March 23, 2020) – Aliyah Boston (South Carolina), Aari McDonald (Arizona), DiDi Richards (Baylor) and Kylee Shook (Louisville) have been named by the Atlanta Tipoff Club as finalists for Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year. The finalists for the Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year are Marcus Garrett (Kansas), Ashton Hagans (Kentucky), Tre Jones (Duke) and Mark Vital (Baylor).

“Each of these finalists enjoyed an incredible season, and all of them deserve to be a Naismith Defensive Player of the Year finalist,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “Their tenacity embodies the spirit of this award, and although we won’t see them in postseason play, we believe it is important to still honor their accomplishments.”

About the Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year finalists: 

Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

  • Boston was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year this season.
  • The 6’5” forward started her college career with the first college debut triple-double in Division I history, and she continued that trend by setting her program freshman records for double-doubles, blocked shots and offensive rebounds.
  • She led the Gamecocks in rebounding with 9.4 rpg and blocked shots with 86 this season, and she ranked second on her team in scoring with 12.5 ppg.

Aari McDonald, Arizona

  • The 2020 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, the first Arizona player to take home the honor since 2011, also earned a spot on the All-Pac 12 team as well as the Pac-12 All-Defensive team.
  • The junior guard led her conference averaging 20.6 points and 2.5 steals per game.
  • McDonald had 596 points, 105 assists and 68 steals for Arizona this season.

DiDi Richards, Baylor

  • Named to the Big 12 All-Defensive team and the All-Big 12 Second Team, Richards also earned the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Defensive Player of the Year honor, making her win the ninth for Baylor.
  • The 6’1” guard averaged 8.2 ppg and 4.9 rpg with 170 assists and 52 steals for the season.
  • Her 3.02 assist-to-turnover ratio was fourth best in the nation.

Kylee Shook, Louisville

  • Shook is the first Louisville player since 2009 to be named conference Defensive Player of the Year, and she was also included on the All-ACC Defensive team and First-Team All-ACC.
  • The senior forward set the school record for career blocks with 223, including 86 this season, and led the ACC in blocks per game (2.7), which ranked 17th in the nation.
  • The 6’4” Cardinal averaged 10.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

About the Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year finalists:

Marcus Garrett, Kansas

  • For the second straight season, Garrett was a unanimous selection on the Big 12 All-Defensive team, and the Kansas junior was also named 2020 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
  • The 6’5” guard led his conference in assists (4.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7).
  • Garrett averaged 9.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 4.5 deflections per game this season, including 6.9 deflections in his last nine outings for top-ranked Kansas. 

Ashton Hagans, Kentucky

  • Hagans was named the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman in 2019 and was included on the SEC All-Defensive team this season.
  • In his sophomore season at Kentucky, he averaged 11.5 points, 6.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game.
  • The 6’3” guard accumulated 119 assists and a team-high 58 steals this season.

Tre Jones, Duke

  • Jones swept two major conference awards, earning both the ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year, becoming only the second player in conference history to take home both awards in the same season with the first being Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon.
  • He averaged 16.2 points and 6.4 assists per game.
  • The 6’3” sophomore guard ranked second in assists, fourth in assist/turnover ratio and sixth in both steals and scoring in the ACC.

Mark Vital, Baylor

  • Vital was a unanimous selection to the Big 12 All-Defensive team and earned an All-Big 12 third-team honor.
  • Playing both guard and forward for Baylor, he averaged 6.2 rpg and added another 50 steals this season.
  • The 6’5” junior has 73 career starts as a Bear and played in 87 consecutive games, which is a team high.

The finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s board of selectors, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, who based their selections on outstanding on-court defensive performances during the 2019-20 regular college basketball season. The winners are scheduled to be announced on April 1, and each winner will be honored with a ceremony at a later date.

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Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, the most prestigious national honors in all of college and high school basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the family of Naismith Awards annually recognizes the most outstanding men’s and women’s college and high school basketball players and coaches. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the men’s and women’s college basketball defensive players of the year, as well as lifetime achievement awards to basketball officials and outstanding contributors to the game. UCLA’s Lew Alcindor received the first Citizen Naismith Trophy in 1969, while the late Anne Donovan (Old Dominion) was the inaugural women’s recipient in 1983. Corporate partners of the Naismith Awards include Citizen Watch Company, Jersey Mike’s and Werner Ladder.


Media Contact:

Traci Messier

Jackson Spalding for the Atlanta Tipoff Club

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