Neemias Queta named a finalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year

11 MAR 2021: Neemias Queta #23 of the Utah State Aggies blocks a shot against the UNLV Rebels during the 2021 Mountain West Men's and Women's Basketball Championship held at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV. Justin Tafoya/Clarkson Creative Photography

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State junior center Neemias Queta has been named one of just four finalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award, as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Tuesday. Queta is joined on the list by Baylor’s Davion Mitchell, Alabama’s Herbert Jones and USC’s Evan Mobley.

Utah State center Neemias Queta (23) blocks a shot by Texas Tech guard Micah Peavy (5) during the second half of a first round game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, Friday, March 19, 2021, at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Queta has been a defensive force in the nation this season, totaling an NCAA-best 97 blocks and making him one of only three players in the nation with 90 or more blocks this season. The total also broke his own Utah State record of 84, set during his freshman campaign in 2018-19. Overall, Queta recorded 219 blocks over the course of his career, far surpassing the previous Utah State record of 155 career blocks set by Gilbert Pete from 186-89. Furthermore, Queta’s 219 put him tied for third in Mountain West history, matching the University of Utah’s David Foster (2006, 09-11). Queta is one of only five players in Mountain West history to record 200 or more blocks in a career.

In addition to his single-season and career records, Queta also broke the Utah State single-game record for blocks, racking up nine rejections against Colorado State in the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament. Queta finished the game with a near-triple-double of 18 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocks. Queta recorded five or more blocks in nine games this season and in 15 during his career and finished with multiple blocks in 22 games this season and 55 during his career.

His prowess as a rim protector was clearly seen throughout the year, however Queta also finished second on the team with 31 steals, led the Mountain West and ranked second in the nation in total defensive rating (80.6), led the Mountain West and the nation in defensive win shares (2.9) and led the Mountain West and the nation in defensive box plus/minus (6.9).

FILE – Utah State center Neemias Queta blocks a shot by Boise State forward Mladen Armus during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 at ExtraMile Arena in Boise, Idaho. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP)

Queta balanced his defensive excellence with a strong showing on the offensive side of the ball, finishing as the only player in the Mountain West to average a double-double on the year with 14.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Queta finished third on the team with 77 assists this season, averaging 2.7 per contest and was the only player in the nation this year with 75 or more assists and 95 or more blocks. In fact, Queta is one of only 10 players since 1992-93 to surpass 95 or more blocks and 75 or more assists in the same season, joining the likes of Tim Duncan, Erick Dampier and Joakim Noah.

Queta is one of only two players in the NCAA since 1992-93 to finish the year averaging more than 14.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game, joining Houston’s Bo Outlaw (1992-93) with that distinction.

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