Michigan point guard Zavier Simpson is a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award, and it won't take long for the junior point guard to prove he's worth the consideration.
Simpson is one of 10 semifinalists for the honor unveiled Thursday, three days from a showdown with Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston.
The 6-foot Simpson averages just under 1.5 steals per game, which is tied for fourth in the Big Ten. He's a key cog in the Wolverines' top-shelf defense, which is allowing 57.6 points per game (No. 1 in the Big Ten) and 39.8 percent shooting (fourth in the Big Ten) entering Thursday's game at Minnesota.
On Sunday, Simpson will lock horns with Winston, the conference's fourth-leading scorer (18.9 points) and leader in assists (7.4). He had Winston's number last season, holding him to 35.3 percent (6-for-17) shooting from the field, including 16.7 percent (1-for-6) from 3-point range and 22 total points in a pair of Michigan victories.
SEMIFINALISTS FOR NAISMITH DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Barry Brown Jr., G, Kansas State
Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga
Ashton Hagans, G Kentucky
De'Andre Hunter, G, Virginia
Tre Jones, G, Duke
Tariq Owens, F, Texas Tech
Zavier Simpson, G, Michigan
Matisse Thybulle, G, Washington
Grant Williams, F, Tennessee
Zion Williamson, F, Duke