Baylor guard DiDi Richards built her reputation as a shut-down defender during the Lady Bears’ run to the 2019 national championship and carried it through her junior season in 2019-20.
People took notice as Richards made the list of four finalists for the 2020 Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Monday.
Richards is the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year with two-straight seasons to her credit on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. She was joined on the list of finalists by Aliyah Boston of South Carolina, Aari McDonald of Arizona and Kylee Shook of Louisville. All four players were named Defensive Player of the Year for their respective conference.
Richards led the defensive charge this season for Baylor, which ranked No. 1 in the country in field goal percentage defense for four-consecutive seasons. Richards averaged 1.7 steals and added 25 blocked shots from the guard position. Richards also averaged a career-best 8.2 points per game while leading the Big 12 in assists (171), assists per game (5.7) and assists-to-turnover ratio (2.94). In addition, her assists-to-turnover ratio ranked fourth in the nation, and she ranked in the top 15 in both assists and assists per game.
The finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s board of selectors, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, who based their selections on outstanding on-court defensive performances during the 2019-20 regular college basketball season. The winners are scheduled to be announced on April 1, and each winner will be honored with a ceremony at a later date.
Richards is Baylor’s first finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. Brittney Griner was the three-time recipient of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association National Defensive Player of the Year for the Lady Bears from 2011-2013.