Pons Named Semifinalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year

Yves Pons / Credit: UT Athletics

Tennessee basketball senior and reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year Yves Pons has been named to the 10-man semifinal list for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club Announced Thursday.

The list was chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s board of selectors, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, who base their decisions on outstanding on-court defensive performances during the 2020-21 college basketball regular season.

Pons is one of two players from the SEC who has been named a semifinalist for the award. Joining him is Alabama’s Herb Jones.

The Fuveau, France, native has the innate ability to effectively guard all five positions on the floor and makes the Vols virtually matchup-proof while he’s on the court.

This season, Pons has blocked 34 shots, ranking seventh in the SEC with 1.6 per game. Last weekend, sent back three shot attempts against Kentucky. It was his fourth game of the season with three or more blocks.

He currently sits in 11th on UT’s all-time blocks list with 124 career rejections and has tallied 107 blocks in his last 52 games (2.1 per game) dating to the start of last season.

Pons has recorded a career-best 14 steals this season while also ranking second on the team with eight charges drawn.

On the offensive end, Pons has scored in double figures in seven of his last nine contests, averaging 11.3 points per game during that span.

Pons earned last season’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year award after tying Tennessee’s single-season blocks record, with 73. He blocked at least one shot in all 31 of UT’s games last season (2.4 bpg). He became the first Vol to claim the award and just the third Tennessee player to earn a spot on the SEC All-Defensive Team.

The Naismith Defensive Player of the Year candidate list will be trimmed to five finalists next month, and the winner of the award presented to the nation’s best defender will be announced in April.

-UT Athletics