Neemias Queta named one of 10 semifinalists for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year

Utah State center Neemias Queta (23) blocks the shot of San Diego State forward Nathan Mensah (31) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP, Pool)

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State junior center Neemias Queta has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award, given annually to the best defensive player in NCAA Division I basketball.

Queta has been a force on the defensive end for Utah State this season, breaking the all-time school record in career blocks midway through the 2020-21 campaign. For his career, Queta has totaled 184 blocks, including a Mountain West-best 62 this season, to rank fourth in the nation. Queta also leads the MW and ranks fifth in the nation with 3.0 blocks per game.

When looking at advanced analytics, Queta leads the nation in defensive box plus/minus (6.7) and is second in the nation in overall defensive rating (80.4) and defensive win shares (2.0).

In addition to his prowess on the defensive end of the court, Queta leads the Aggies with 14.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. In his last two outings, Queta logged 32 points and 10 rebounds and 30 points and 11 rebounds, becoming the first Aggie to record more than 30 points and 10 rebounds in back-to-back games since Marvin Roberts during the 1968-69 season.

Queta is one of just three players outside the Power 5 to be named a semifinalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award and is joined on the list by Western Kentucky junior center Charles Bassey, Virginia junior guard Kihei Clark, Kansas senior guard Marcus Garrett, Richmond senior guard Jacob Gilyard, Alabama senior wing Herb Jones, Baylor junior guard Davion Mitchell, USC freshman forward Evan Mobley, Tennessee wing Yves Pons and Baylor senior wing Mark Vital.

When comparing those on the list, Queta is one of only two players with more than 60 blocks and 20 steals. When looking at averages, Queta has the best combined average in blocks and steals, averaging 3.0 and 1.2 per game, respectively.

Utah State men’s basketball news and information is available on Facebook (facebook.com/usumensbasketball), on Twitter (@usubasketball) and on Instagram (@usubasketball). Fans can also get USU men’s basketball highlights on YouTube (youtube.com/utahstateathletics). Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter (@usuathletics), on Facebook (facebook.com/usuathletics) or on Instagram (@usuathletics).

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