Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
In news that should surprise absolutely no one, Tennessee forward Yves Pons has been named the SEC’s defensive player of the year for the 2019-20 season.
After two years of scarce minutes, Pons got his chance to start for the Volunteers this season. It was a new position for Pons, who played in a bit of a hybrid post role after spending time on the wing during his first two seasons. The returns for Rick Barnes were immediate, especially on the defensive end.
After losing his rim protector in Kyle Alexander after last season, Barnes was somehow able to replace him with a 6-foot-6 wing. From day one, Pons was an impact defender. The junior forward from France blocked a shot in every game this year, totaling 73 for the season. That’s a single season record for Tennessee.
He beat out Kentucky’s Nick Richards for the league lead, who blocked 66 shots this season himself.
According to most, Pons is still scratching the surface as a player. His athletic ability is off the charts, which is why you’ll probably see him entertain the idea of declaring early this spring. Pons is still inconsistent on the offensive end, but we did see improvement there this season. Pons finished with 10.8 points per game, shooting 34 percent from three-point range.
Now with his breakout season under his belt, Pons could return to Tennessee to keep the Vols’ unique frontcourt intact for next year, while adding the best recruiting class in school history.