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Ace Baldwin Jr. named to Naismith Defensive Player of the Year watch list

When Penn State landed Ace Baldwin Jr. out of the transfer portal last offseason, he came to the program with a strong defensive reputation. That has led to on-the-court success this season as one of the top defensive players in the Big Ten and the nation. On Wednesday, Baldwin was named to the watch list for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.

Baldwin is one of 15 players appearing on the watch list, and he is one of three Big Ten players. The others representing Big Ten programs are Purdue center Zach Edey and Rutgers center Clifford Omoruyi. Baldwin is one of 10 guards on the watch list.

Baldwin is currently averaging 2.8 steals per game, which leads the Big Ten.

The Naismith Defensive Player of the Year has been awarded annually since 2018. No Big Ten player has ever won the award, although last year’s winner, Jaylen Clark of UCLA, came from an incoming Big Ten program in 2024. Washington’s Matisse Thybulle was the winner of the award in 2019.

Here is the full list of players appearing on the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year watch list for the 2023-24 season:

  • Ace Baldwin Jr., G, Penn State

  • Reece Beekman, G, Virginia

  • Adem Bona, F/C, UCLA

  • Johni Broome, F/C, Auburn

  • Devin Carter, G, Providence

  • Ryan Dunn, G, Virginia

  • Zach Edey, C, Purdue

  • Dajuan Harris Jr., G, Kansas

  • Jaelen House, G, New Mexico

  • Ryan Kalkbrenner, C, Creighton

  • Tamin Lipsey, G, Iowa State

  • Kevin McCullar Jr., G, Kansas

  • Clifford Omoruyi, C, Rutgers

  • Jamal Shead, G, Houston

  • Zakai Zeigler, G, Tennessee

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Story originally appeared on Nittany Lions Wire