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Baylor Basketball

Vital, Mitchell Named Naismith Defensive POY Semifinalists

February 25, 2021

ATLANTA – For the second-straight season, Baylor is the nation’s only team with two Naismith Defensive Player of the Year semifinalists, as announced Thursday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

Mark Vital and Davion Mitchell were both named to the list of 10 semifinalists for a second-consecutive season. They joined Kansas’ Marcus Garrett and Richmond’s Jacob Gilyard as the only repeat semifinalists. Vital advanced as one of four finalists for last season’s award.

Additional 2021 semifinalists include Western Kentucky’s Charles Bassey, Virginia’s Kihei Clark, Alabama’s Herb Jones, USC’s Evan Mobley, Tennessee’s Yves Pons and Utah State’s Neemias Queta.

Regarded as “the nation’s best on-ball defender,” Mitchell has earned the nickname “Off Night” for his habit of forcing the players he defends into having an off night. He ranks second in the Big 12 Conference with 2.1 steals per game.

With his ability to defend all five positions, Mark Vital has earned a reputation as “the nation’s most versatile defender.” Capable of switching any screen and defending quick point guards or larger forward, the 6-foot-5 Vital ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 1.1 blocks per game, 11th with 1.3 steals per game and 11th with 5.9 rebounds per game. Vital has twice posted 15-rebound game this season.

The Atlanta Tipoff Club will announce the four finalists for the Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year on March 12. The award is voted on by a panel of national media with the final announcement being made Final Four weekend.

No. 2-ranked Baylor is off to the best start in program history with an 18-0 record, including a 10-0 mark in Big 12 play. The Bears have four remaining regular-season games, beginning with a trip to No. 17 Kansas on Saturday. BU then plays at West Virginia on Tuesday, before returning home to host Oklahoma State (Thursday, March 4) and Texas Tech (Sunday, March 7).

Follow @BaylorMBB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for updates throughout the year.


Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky

Kihei Clark, Virginia

Marcus Garrett, Kansas

Jacob Gilyard, Richmond

Herb Jones, Alabama

Davion Mitchell, Baylor

Evan Mobley, USC

Yves Pons, Tennessee

Neemias Queta, Utah State

Mark Vital, Baylor

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Vital, Mitchell Named Naismith Defensive POY Semifinalists

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