NCAAM: SEC Deepest Conference
Tennessee point guard Kennedy Chandler made the 15-player Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Watch List, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday.
Chandler’s strong defensive season has come from steals. The five-star freshman’s 2.2 steals per game leads the SEC’s No. 2 defense and ranks second in the conference. The Memphis native recorded steals in all but five of Tennessee’s games this season including three games with five or more steals and five games with four or more steals.
The 6-foot freshman also has six blocks this season though only one has come in SEC play.
Chandler is one of just three freshmen on the 15-player watch list and one of four SEC players on the list.
Tennessee has faced three of the four SEC players on the list and will see Auburn center Walker Kessler in February. The Vols have also faced Arizona’s Christian Koloko and Texas Tech’s Kevin McCullar.
Ironically, Tennessee power forward John Fulkerson’s best game came against Arizona and Koloko with the super senior recording 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Tennessee ranks fifth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom and bolsters the second best defense in the conference. With Chandler heading up the defense, Tennessee ranks 10th nationally in turnovers percentage and fifth in steal percentage.
Chandler is looking to continue his strong season when Tennessee heads to Austin to face Texas Saturday night in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.