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Atlanta Tipoff Club | March 14, 2019

Finalists for college basketball Naismith Men's Defensive Player of the Year announced

There are still 7 teams up for a No. 1 seed, according to selection committee chair Bernard Muir

ATLANTA  – The four finalists were announced today by the Atlanta Tipoff Club for the 2019 Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year presented by Bona. The finalists include Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga), De’Andre Hunter (Virginia), Matisse Thybulle (Washington) and Zion Williamson (Duke).

“These players have shown true defensive talent and tenacity throughout the season, and each of them is worthy of this award,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “As the tournament tips off, we will see that on-court toughness put to the test.”

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The 2019 Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year presented by Bona will be honored at the Naismith Awards Brunch presented by Mortenson on April 7, 2019, during the Final Four in Minneapolis.

“Each of these talented athletes are known for defending the hardwood,” said Tiffany Baird, brand manager, Bona US. “We are looking forward to watching their seasons continue and are proud that Bona helps colleges defend and finish the courts athletes call home.”

About the finalists:

Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga

  • Clarke was named West Coast Conference (WCC) Newcomer and Defensive Player of the Year, making him the first player in conference history to win both accolades in the same season. 
  • The junior forward also made the all-WCC first team after averaging 16.6 ppg and 8.5 rpg for the Bulldogs this season. 
  • With a program single-season record of 99 blocks, he is second nationally. 
  • Clarke’s 68.8 shooting percentage is first nationally, and he’s on pace to break the WCC record.

De’Andre Hunter, Virginia

  • Hunter was named Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Defensive Player of the Year and was nominated for the all-ACC first team and ACC all-defensive team.
  • He led a Cavaliers squad that ranks first in the nation in fewest points allowed per game (54.6) and field goal percentage defense (.374).
  • Hunter averaged a career high in 15.2 ppg and 5.2 rpg during the season.
  • The sophomore guard has recorded two double-doubles this season, including a 20 point and 10 rebound effort against Notre Dame.

Matisse Thybulle, Washington

  • Thybulle became just the second player in Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) history to repeat as the conference Defensive Player of the Year and was also named to the Pac-12 all-conference first team.
  • The senior guard tied the Pac-12 single-season record with 110 steals and notched a team-high 72 blocks, making him the only player in the last 20 seasons to record both 100 steals and 70 blocks in the same year.
  • Currently leading the NCAA in average steals per game (3.55), Thybulle also leads all active NCAA Division I players with 315 career steals.
  • He is one of just three players to average 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals in a season.

Zion Williamson, Duke

  • Williamson clinched both the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year ACC honors, becoming the third player in ACC history to sweep the two individual awards.
  • The freshman forward was named all-ACC first team and ACC all-defensive team.
  • He ranks fourth in the ACC in blocked shots with 1.85 bpg.
  • His 21.6 ppg scoring average is second among conference players, and he’s third in rebounding at 8.8 rpg.

The finalists for Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year presented by Bona were announced on Tuesday, March 12, and include Kristine Anigwe (California), Lauren Cox (Baylor), Ae’Rianna Harris (Purdue) and Teaira McCowan (Mississippi State). The winner of the women’s award will be announced on April 5, 2019, and honored at her school on a later date.

The four finalists for both awards 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 2018-19 college basketball season.