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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Nancy Mulkey Named Semifinalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year

Posted: February 23, 2021 -- 11:58 a.m. CT

Rice women's basketball senior center Nancy Mulkey earned a spot among the Naismith Women's Defensive Player of the Year Semifinalists, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Tuesday.

Mulkey has carved out a spot on multiple national player of the year lists, including the Top-10 for the Lisa Leslie Award Watch List honoring the nation's top center. Mulkey currently ranks third among all active NCAA Division I players in career blocks (281) and is fifth in blocked shots average (2.93 bpg). This season Mulkey leads all of C-USA in blocked shots (48-18th in NCAA) and blocks per game (3.20-5th in NCAA).

Mulkey, who has blocked three or more shots in a game seven times this season, anchors a Rice defense that ranks eighth in the NCAA in field-goal percentage defense (34.1). In addition, Mulkey ranks fourth in the NCAA in field goal percentage (60.7) and is averaging 16.3 points per game.

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The Atlanta Tipoff Club will narrow the list to four finalists on March 11 and announce the 2021 Naismith Women's Defensive Player of the Year on April 3.

2021 Naismith Women's Defensive Player of the Year Semifinalists

Aliyah Boston Sophomore Forward South Carolina SEC
Veronica Burton Junior Guard Northwestern Big Ten
Charli Collier Junior Forward / Center Texas Big 12
Elissa Cunane Junior Center NC State ACC
Natasha Mack Senior Forward Oklahoma State Big 12
Aari McDonald Senior Guard Arizona Pac-12
Nancy Mulkey Senior Center Rice C-USA
Olivia Nelson-Ododa Junior Forward UConn Big East
Chasity Patterson Senior Guard Kentucky SEC
DiDi Richards Senior Guard Baylor Big 12

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