🏀 Taiyanna Jackson Named Semifinalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas senior center Taiyanna Jackson has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2023 Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year award. The semifinalists for the award were announced on Monday by the Naismith Awards.

The award, which has been presented since 2018, goes to the most outstanding women’s defensive basketball player who achieves tremendous on-court success. Jackson was one of 15 players named to the Naismith Watch List on Jan. 24. She is joined on the semifinalist list by Brea Beal (South Carolina), Aliyah Boston (South Carolina), Cameron Brink (Stanford), Brooke Flowers (St. Louis), Elizabeth Kitley (Virginia Tech), Rayah Marshall (USC), Aneesah Morrow (DePaul), Angel Reese (LSU) and Celeste Taylor (Duke). The four finalists for the award will be announced on March 13.

Jackson is among the most-improved players in college basketball and she’s excelling at both ends of the floor this season. She leads the Big 12 and ranks sixth in the country with 82 blocked shots, an average of 3.0 per game, while ranking third in the nation in field goal percentage (68.1) and fifth in rebounds per game (12.6). Jackson recorded her league-leading 18th double-double on Sunday, with 12 points and a career-high-tying 21 rebounds in KU’s 66-57 victory over Oklahoma State. She also had five blocked shots against OSU, her fourth-straight game with four or more blocks.

Jackson is one of five players from a power five conference averaging a double-double this season, with current marks of 15.4 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. She is on pace to become the first Jayhawk to average a double-double for an entire season since Traci Claxton in 1982. Her 18 double-doubles ranks sixth in Division I women’s basketball and tied for seventh in school history for a single season. After setting a school record with 95 blocked shots last season, Jackson is again climbing the single-season list with 82 blocks this season, which ranks fifth in KU history.

Entering 2022-23, Jackson was Preseason All-Big 12 Honorable Mention and she is a two-time Big 12 Player of the Week this season. Last year, she became the first-ever KU player selected to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team and led the way as the Jayhawks set a new single-season school record with 5.7 blocks per game. Earlier this season, Jackson was also listed as one of the Top 10 candidates for the 2023 Lisa Leslie Award, which recognizes the top center in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball.

Kansas returns to action on Wednesday against nationally-ranked Iowa State for Senior Night at Allen Fieldhouse. That game will tip off at 7 p.m. CT on Big 12 NOW.

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