The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year could have another big year coming up.
Caleb McConnell has been named as a member of the 2023 Julius Erving Award Watchlist. The award is given out yearly to the top small forward in the nation.
McConnell established himself as one of the best defensive players in the nation last season. He won the DPOY award in the conference and was a top-five semifinalist for the 2022 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.
McConnell averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season. He added 70 total steals, which equated to 2.2 per game — both led the Big Ten.
“It means everything to me to have one more year at Rutgers,” McConnell said in a press release. “This has become my home and we are excited to take another step forward in 2022-23. I want to show Rutgers Nation what we are capable of, and I am super excited to do it with the group of guys that are in our locker room. Last year we didn’t get to where we wanted to be. I want to prove to everyone that we belong, and Rutgers is here to stay.”
McConnell’s defensive ability is well known. This season, he will have a chance to take on an extended role on the other end as well.
In the play-in game during the NCAA Tournament against Notre Dame, McConnell finished 10-for-12 from the field and logged 23 points and 11 rebounds. He struggled from three-point range last season but showed an ability to get in the lane and score from the midrange. This season, he will work to extend his game past the three-point line.
The Scarlet Knights are preparing for what could be another successful season and McConnell will be a big part of it.
2023 Julius Erving Award Candidates
Julian Strawther - Gonzaga
Jaime Jaquez Jr. - UCLA
Timmy Allen - Texas
Colby Jones - Xavier
Dariq Whitehead - Duke
Matthew Cleveland - Florida State
Josiah-Jordan James - Tennessee
Tyler Wahl - Wisconsin
Baylor Scheierman - Creighton
Harrison Ingram - Stanford
Chris Livingston - Kentucky
Kevin Obanor - Texas Tech
Caleb McConnell - Rutgers
Jalen Wilson - Kansas
Brandon Miller - Alabama
Pelle Larsson - Arizona
Leaky Black - North Carolina
Cam Whitmore - Villanova
Jamison Battle - Minnesota
Jordan Walsh - Arkansas