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RU Caleb McConnell wins the ESPN College Gameday National DPOY award

Rutgers men’s basketball’s Caleb McConnell won the ESPN College Gameday National Defensive Player of the Year Award on Saturday. The Rutgers fifth-year captain was one of three nominated players, defeating Virginia guard Reece Beekman and UCLA guard Jaylen Clark for this prestigious award.

McConnell is also  a semifinalist for the 2023 Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year.

 Earlier this season, Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell said that “McConnell is not only the best defender in the conference but the best in the whole country.”

ESPN backed Pikiell’s statement, maning McConnell the number one defensive player in the country. McConnell has been averaging 2.4 steals per game, ranking him eleventh in the country and No. 1 in the Big Ten Conference. Rutgers can run multiple defensive sets knowing McConnell’s ability to guard positions 1 through 5.

McConnell has been an anchor for a Rutgers team ranked 8th in the nation for their defense. Missing his first five games of the season, McConnell is averaging 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. Caleb is third all-time on the Rutgers steal list with 208, 12 away from tracking down Eddie Jordan’s 220 career steals record. The Scarlet Knights are 18-1 (9-0 Big Ten) when holding their opponents to 65 points or fewer. McConnell guards each team’s top scorer, holding them to some of their lowest-scoring outputs of the season. Rutgers’ senior guard takes pride in his defensive efforts and will continue to help the Scarlet Knights win games.

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Story originally appeared on Rutgers Wire