Big 12 Basketball

Ayoka Lee, NaLyssa Smith On Naismith Defensive Player Watch List

Ayoka Lee and NaLyssa Smith are the two Big 12 women’s players on the 2022 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year watch list, announced on Tuesday.

Kansas State’s Lee and Baylor’s Smith were two of 15 players named to the list.

The Wildcats junior is receiving massive attention after Lee scored 61 points in Sunday’s win over Oklahoma, which set a Division I single-game scoring mark and broke the Big 12 single-game scoring mark by 11 points. The Big 12 mark was formerly held by Brittany Griner. She announced on Tuesday that she would return to Kansas State for her senior year.


After Sunday’s performance against Oklahoma, Lee is now averaging 25.5 and 10.9 rebounds per game. He has a Big 12 and NCAA-high 66 blocked shots and also has a team-high 27 steals.

Lee and the Wildcats will be in action on Wednesday night when they travel to Texas.

Smith is the reigning Wade Trophy winner, given to the nation’s best women’s college basketball player. The senior forward is averaging 0.9 steals and 1.1 blocks per game in addition to holding her defensive assignment to 31 percent shooting, according to Synergy.

Offensively, Smith is averaging a double-double of 20.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.

Both the Wildcats and the Bears are reaping the benefits of the two players. Lee has the Wildcats back in the AP Women’s Top 25 for the second time in three weeks. In addition, the Wildcats moved up a seed in the most recent ESPN Bracketology, as K-State is now a No. 5 seed.

Baylor, meanwhile, also moved up in the AP Top 25 after beating Iowa State on Sunday and is considered a No. 4 seed in the most recent ESPN Bracketology.

2022 Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year Watch List

(Big 12 Players in Bold)

Aliyah Boston, South Carolina           

Angel Reese, Maryland

Ayoka Lee, Kansas State

Cameron Brink, Stanford

Elissa Cunane, NC State

Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech

Emily Engstler, Louisville

Jordyn Cambridge, Vanderbilt

Lorela Cubaj, Georgia Tech

NaLyssa Smith, Baylor

Nancy Mulkey, Washington

Que Morrison, Georgia

Rhyne Howard , Kentucky

Tamari Key, Tennessee

Veronica Burton, Northwestern

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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