MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – University of Washington senior Matisse Thybulle has won the 2019 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award presented by Bona, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Sunday at the Naismith Awards Brunch presented by Mortenson.
The prestigious award, in its second year, recognizes the top defensive player in Division I with Thybulle edging out the other finalists, Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga), De’Andre Hunter (Virginia) and Zion Williamson (Duke). Jevon Carter of West Virginia won the award last season.
“To win the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award means the world to me. I’ve put in the hard work day in and day out, and I have to credit my teammates because they have always had my back both on and off the court. I was only able to accomplish this because of them,” said Thybulle. “Defense is exciting, and I believe we showed people that this year. I’m just happy to represent this program on this stage because there are big things coming for the Huskies.”
“What an incredible honor for Matisse and so well deserved. I’m so glad the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award exists now because it really recognizes the effort that goes into the sport,” said Washington Head Coach Mike Hopkins. “Defense is 50 percent of the game and what Matisse has done over his career is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my 24 years of coaching.”
The two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year finished the season with 126 steals and 83 blocks for a combined takeaway total of 209, which led all four finalists for the Naismith honor. His 126 steals set the Pac-12 Conference single-season record which was previously held by Jason Kidd of Cal (1992-93) and are the 10th most in a single-season in NCAA history. He led the nation throughout most of the year and finished with an average of 3.50 steals per game. For his career, Thybulle now owns the UW steals record of 331 and this season passed Gary Payton, who had held the record for 30 years (321 steals, Oregon State, 1986-90), for the Pac-12 career record
Not only did Thybulle record his second-straight 100-steal season but the 6-5 guard also notched a team-high 83 blocks which ranked second in the Pac-12 and were the most by a guard. He was the only 6-5 player ranked in the NCAA top 65 in blocks while being the only player in the country to be ranked in the top 20 in steals (3.50 – 1st) and blocks (2.31 – 18th). The historic marks continued for Thybulle as he was the only player in the last 20 seasons to record both 100 steals and 70 blocks in the same year and is also one of just three players in that span to average 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals in a season, joining Shane Battier – Duke (1999-2000, 2000-01) and Nerlens Noel – Kentucky (2012-13). Additionally, Thybulle finished his career with 186 blocks, which tied the UW record set by Christian Welp (1984-87).
Thybulle started every game during his UW career, a streak of 135 games, and finished with 1,240 career points, which ranks 28th all-time at Washington. He helped Washington reach its first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2010-11 season as the Huskies finished with a 27-9 mark on the year, its most wins since 2004-05.