Tennessee basketball senior Yves Pons has been named to the 50-man watch list for the 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year Trophy, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday.
Players across the country are eligible throughout the season to play their way on and off the list, which currently includes six SEC players.
Last season’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Pons has developed into one of the most versatile defensive players to ever suit up for the Volunteers.
The Fuveau, France, native enters his senior campaign as a legitimate National Defensive Player of the Year hopeful after finishing last season with 73 blocks to tie Tennessee’s single-season record. He also led the SEC with 2.4 blocks per game. His innate ability to guard all five positions on the floor makes him invaluable to the Big Orange.
Pons also grew offensively last season, averaging a career-best 10.8 points per contest while shooting .349 from 3-point range.
After going through the NBA Draft evaluation process earlier this year, Pons opted to return to Tennessee for his final year of eligibility. He leads a squad that is ranked No. 12 in the preseason Associated Press Top-25 Poll.
The initial Naismith Player of the Year watch list will be trimmed to a midseason team of 30 in early February, followed by the announcement of the 10 semifinalists on March 4 and the four finalists on March 16.
VFL, two-time SEC Player of the Year and current Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams was a finalist for the Naismith Trophy during the Vols’ record-setting 2018-19 campaign.
To view the complete preseason Naismith Trophy watch list, click HERE.