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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | September 3, 2020

College basketball's top 10 lockdown defenders since 2010

College basketball's top 10 lockdown defenders since 2010

NCAA.com's Andy Katz recently ranked the top 10 lockdown defenders in men's basketball since 2010. Three of the top six defenders on Katz's list won a national championship, so there is at least some truth to the old adage that defense wins championships.

From the last decade of men's college basketball, here are the top 10 players who were some combination of a shut-down perimeter defender, a high-flying rim-protector or a versatile, do-it-all defender, according to Katz.

1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky

As a freshman at Kentucky during the 2011-12 season, Anthony Davis was both the consensus National Player of the Year and the NABC Defensive Player of the Year.  Davis led the country in blocks with 186 in 40 games — an average of 4.7 blocks per game. His Wildcats posted the seventh-best defensive efficiency rating in the country as they allowed opponents to score an average of just 89.6 points per 100 possessions. Davis was a major reason why, as he blocked 13.8 percent of opponents' 2-point attempts, which was the third-best nationally.

He also averaged nearly 1.5 steals per game. Davis did all that while posting an offensive rating of 133.5 — the third-best in the country.

2. Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia

Brogdon was at Virginia when the Cavaliers became one of the best and most consistent programs in the country. In his freshman season, Virginia went 22-10 — six more wins than the Cavaliers' 16-15 record from the year prior, and they won 30, 30 and 29 games in his last three years, respectively. With Brogdon, Virginia's defensive efficiency ranked No. 4, No. 2 and No. 7 nationally in those three years, according to kenpom.com.

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3. Jevon Carter, West Virginia

As a junior and senior, Carter was named the NABC's Defensive Player of the Year, making him the first two-time winner since UConn's Hasheem Thabeet (2008-09) and just the seventh multiple-time winner ever. His 4.8 percent steal percentage ranked sixth nationally as a senior, when he averaged three steals per game.

Carter made the Big 12's All-Defensive team all four years of college and he was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

4. De'Andre Hunter, Virginia

De'Andre Hunter celebrates a Final Four win in 2019.

Hunter was named the NABC Defensive Player of the Year from his stellar play on that end of the floor during Virginia's 2019 championship season, when he was arguably the best defender on the Cavaliers' fifth-ranked defense, per kenpom.com's defensive efficiency ratings. The 6-7 Hunter could guard almost any position on the floor, from point guards to forwards. He was also named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2019.

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5. Aaron Craft, Ohio State

As a senior at Ohio State, Craft was named the NABC Defensive Player of the Year, when he averaged 2.5 steals per game and posted a 4.5 percent steal rate, which ranked 12th nationally. Craft averaged at least two steals per game in all four seasons of college. On offense, Craft ran the Buckeyes' attack. On defense, he did his best to prevent his opponents from doing the same.

6. Russ Smith, Louisville

Smith was a member of Louisville's 2013 team, whose championship was later vacated by the Committee on Infractions, and he was a consensus First Team All-American in 2014. Smith's 2014 Louisville team finished the season ranked No. 1 on kenpom.com thanks to a defense that ranked fifth nationally in terms of efficiency and Smith was named the kenpom.com player of the year. He had an impressive 4.0 percent steal rate, and he averaged at least two steals per game as a sophomore, junior and senior.

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7. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky

Cauley-Stein started 38 of 39 games for Kentucky's 2015 team that started the season 38-0 and only lost in the Final Four. The 7-footer was a strong rim protector who averaged 1.7 blocks per game as a junior, and he averaged 1.2 steals per game in each of his final two seasons. Despite his size, he had the footwork and athleticism to defend opposing players away from the basket.

8. Udoka Azubuike, Kansas

Azubuike is the reigning NABC Defensive Player of the Year. Azubuike's Jayhawks finished last season ranked No. 1 on kenpom.com, with the No. 2 defense in the country. The 7-footer averaged a career-best 2.6 blocks per game and he has a 10.9 percent block rate, meaning he blocked more than one out of every 10 2-point shots that opponents took when he was on the floor. He was also a great defensive rebounder with an average of seven defensive rebounds per game last season — an improvement from his previous career-high of 4.6 per game.

9. Matisse Thybulle, Washington

Thybulle, the 6-5 former Washington guard, led the country in steals in 2019 with 126, which helped earn him Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors. He earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2018 and 2019 thanks to his elite ability to get his hand on the ball on defense. As a senior, he averaged 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per game — the latter, an incredibly impressive number for someone who's 6-5.

10. Victor Oladipo, Indiana

Oladipo helped Indiana hold the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll longer than any other team in the country during the 2012-13 season and he helped the Hoosiers earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with his two-way play. As a junior, he averaged 2.2 steals and 0.8 blocks per game, while earning Co-NABC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

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