Tennessee sophomore guard Zakai Zeigler has been named a Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Semifinalist, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Tuesday.
One of 10 semifinalists, Zeigler is the only underclassman and only player from the SEC included on the list.
Through 29 games this season, Zeigler has recorded 59 steals—a mark that leads the Vols and ranks 32nd among all Division I players. Zeigler is averaging 1.9 steals per game during SEC play, which ranks sixth in the league.
In total, Zeigler has nine games this season with three or more steals and five with four or more takeaways. He ranks 39th among all Division I players in steal percentage—recording a steal in 4.1 percent of possessions in which he is on the court.
Aside from his takeaways on the defensive end, Zeigler has also had an impact on opponents’ shot making. According to Synergy, opponents this season are shooting 53-for-194 (.273) when he is the primary defender.
As a team, Tennessee ranks third in the nation in scoring defense (56.7 ppg), second in field goal percentage defense (.359) and 27th in the country in steals per game (8.6). Zeigler is one of three Vols with 40 or more steals this season.
2023 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Semifinalists
Chase Audige, Northwestern
Moussa Cisse, Oklahoma State
Jaylen Clark, UCLA
Zach Edey, Purdue
Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana
Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton
Caleb McConnell, Rutgers
Kevin McCullar Jr., Kansas
Marcus Sasser, Houston
Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee