Information from the Arizona media relations department contributed to this report:
All-American guard Aari McDonald was named one of the four finalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award this morning, as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
McDonald joins Aliyah Boston (South Carolina), Didi Richards (Baylor) and Kylee Shook (Louisville) as the group of four deemed the top defenders in the country.
McDonald, who was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year earlier this month, led the conference in steals per game at 2.3 for the second season in a row. She has also led the Pac-12 in scoring two seasons in a row, becoming the first player in conference history to lead the Pac-12 in steals and scoring twice.
The Fresno, Calif., native had at least three steals in 11 games this season and had at least one in 27 of her 29 games played. Her season-high came on Feb. 2 vs. USC as she had six steals to go along with 20 points and eight assists.
She helped Arizona become one of the top defensive teams in the nation. She was routinely at the frontline of the unit that held teams to 56.6 points per game, the best in the Pac-12 and 17.97 forced turnovers per game, the third-most in the conference.
McDonald is also a finalist for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award and the Wooden Award, and was also named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press last week. That is the highest honor for an Arizona player in terms of the AP All-American team.
The winner of the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award will be announced on April 1.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.