Pons named semifinalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year

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    Photo Credit: Tennessee Athletics

    Tennessee’s Yves Pons has been named a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award, presented by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club. He is one of ten players named to the list, as the season comes to a close.

    Alabama’s Herb Jones was the only other SEC player named a semifinalist this morning. As the season has progressed, Pons has made his way back into shape on the defensive end. The forward has been hampered with a knee injury over the course of the last month.

    “Yeah, I think it is a problem, but he would never say it because he is just not one of those guys,” Barnes recently said about Pons’ knee injury. “He isn’t going to say it, he is going to try to go out and battle and do it. That’s Yves. But with the reps in practice, we have to really monitor his load right now, and I think that hurts him, because he is a guy who wants to take every rep if he can. I think he is better if he can do that, but we just can’t do it with him.”

    Pons has recorded 34 blocks this season, with a few coming last night against Vanderbilt, where he kept the Vols out in front on the defensive end. This past Saturday against Kentucky, he recorded three blocks, which is the fourth game he’s recorded three or more blocks this season.

    With his 124 current blocks heading into a matchup with Auburn, Pons ranks 11th on Tennessee’s all-time blocks list, thanks in part to a monster 2019-2020 season in which he won SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Last season, Pons recorded 73 blocks, tying the Vols single-season block record. If it weren’t for COVID-19 shutting down the season, that was a record that was most likely going to be broken.

    No. 19 Tennessee continue to battle towards the end of the season, as it travels to Auburn this weekend. The Vols will most likely play another game next week, so it looks like Pons will have additional games to add to his block total.

    Trey Wallace
    Trey Wallace is a Knoxville-based journalist who has been covering University of Tennessee athletics since early 2018. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football's biggest stories. His vast social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of Vol Nation's most trusted sources. Wallace was born and raised in Mobile, AL and graduated from the University of South Alabama. He loves the mountains as much as the beach and looks forward to living in East Tennessee for many years to come.