Baylor guard Davion Mitchell was named Men's Naismith Defensive Player of the Year on Friday, the day before the No. 1 seed Bears will take on No. 2 seed Houston in a Final Four game. Mitchell, a redshirt junior, is averaging two steals per game this season and had already collected the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year award.
Oklahoma State's Natasha Mack beat out South Carolina's Aliyah Boston, Northwestern's Veronica Burton and Arizona's Aari McDonald for the Women's Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award. Mack, a 6-foot-4 senior, averaged four blocks and two steals per game while helping OSU to a 19-9 record and an NCAA Tournament victory.
"We call him off night, because people tend to have off nights with him," Baylor coach Scott Drew said after the Bears' 81-72 win over Arkansas in the Elite Eight. "But he's a nightmare to bring the ball up against. And he sets the tone for our defense. He's the pace car. Everyone sees him working, so that leads to everybody else working. So that energy he brings, and he's got unbelievable speed."
The winners were announced live Friday on CBS Sports HQ.
At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Mitchell has established himself as one of the most menacing perimeter defenders in the country during his two seasons with Baylor. He earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors last season in his first year on the court with the Bears after transferring from Auburn. Mitchell also made the league's All-Defensive Team last season.
This year, he's taken his game to a new level and has also been a major offensive threat during Baylor's first Final Four run since 1950. Mitchell currently ranks No. 16 in the 2021 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings. With his 3-point shooting percentage improved from 32.4% last season to 45% this season, he has the look of an early contributor to an NBA roster.
Men's past winners
|2018||Jevon Carter||West Virginia|
Women's past winners
|2018||Teaira McCowan||Mississippi State|