Marcus Garrett is the co-favorite to win the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award. Photo from @KUSports (Twitter).
- Kansas Jayhawks guard Marcus Garrett is the co-favorite to win the 2020-21 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award at +300 with Baylor Bears forward Mark Vital
- Garrett won the award last year, beating out the likes of Vital, Duke’s Tre Jones and Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans
- Check below to see analysis for the relatively new postseason honor
Kansas Jayhawks senior guard Marcus Garrett enters the 2020-21 college basketball season as the co-favorite (along with Baylor Bears forward Mark Vital) to win the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.
The award has only been around for three years, with Garrett joining West Virginia guard Jevon Carter and Washington guard Matisse Thybulle last year as the primary trio to take home honors.
In a very small sample size, the award seems to favor do-it-all, upperclassmen guards. Garrett certainly fits that mold this season. Of course, he has plenty of legitimate competition from Vital, Richmond’s Jacob Gilyard, Auburn’s Davion Mitchell and a host of others.
2020-21 NCAA Naismith DPOY Odds
|Jamari Wheeler||Penn State||+1200|
|McKinley Wright IV||Colorado||+1200|
Odds taken on Nov. 13
Garrett finished last season averaging 9.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. He ranked first in the Big 12 in assists, assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7) and fifth in steals.
He deserves to be the co-favorite in this spot. He won the award last season, along with also being named ESPN.com Defensive Player of the Year and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He’s also an All-American candidate this season.
The guy clearly clearly has skills and is a big reason why Kansas has +1367 odds — among the top-10 — in our 2021 NCAA title odds. But can conference rival Vital sneak past Garrett for the honors this season? Is there a sleeper contender on the board we should target instead? Let’s break down the field and make a prediction.
Rockin’ the Chalk
It figures a Jayhawk is the co-favorite for an award named after the founder of the storied University of Kansas basketball program.
Garrett has somewhat bigger fish to fry this season than winning the Naismith DPOY, though. With players like Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson gone, head coach Bill Self will look to the versatile Garrett to step up even more.
#KUbball senior Marcus Garrett was the 10th highest vote getter (9 votes) for the AP’s preseason All-American team. The first team included 6 players (a tie for 5th) and Garrett was 4th after that, which essentially (but unofficially) makes him a 2nd team preseason All-American.
— Matt Tait (@mctait) November 11, 2020
Garrett has become a decorated defensive stopper. But now, Self will look to him to lead a team with legitimate national championship expectations. How the 6-foot-5 Dallas, Texas product handles the spotlight will determine whether or not he goes back-to-back.
I have faith in the KU veteran to answer the bell.
If team success helps determine the ultimate Naismith winner though, Vital has a good chance to become the fourth player to win the award.
The Bears enter the season as the No. 2 team in the land, while the Jayhawks are No. 6 in the AP preseason poll. Voters may also be keen on honoring someone new this season — and that someone could be Vital.
The athletic swingman put up slightly lower numbers last season compared to the previous one. But the Lake Charles, Louisiana native is one of the oldest players in college basketball this season. At age 24, Vital’s experience — along with Baylor’s predicted success — make him a legitimate threat to wrest the award away from Garrett. He was one of four finalists last year. Vital is an intriguing co-favorite.
Yves Pons is someone bettors should consider, especially at his current +1400 price. The reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year has gone from being a seldom-used freshman to a key returner for a team ranked 12th in the preseason Top 25
Pons averaged 10.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks last season and will have opportunities to shine against teams like Kentucky and LSU in conference play. If you’re looking for a longshot, Pons is worth an investment wager.
Garrett is the class of the field, though. Self has said he’s the best defender he’s ever coached at Kansas, and Self has coached a few good ones. And the incumbent fits the prototypical player — a Swiss Army Knife slasher — who has won the award the previous three seasons its been handed out.
Go with the chalk and rock the Jayhawk.
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.