Jay Threatt, who originally enrolled at George Mason before transferring to Delaware State after his freshman season, is the best defender you've never heard of. All he did last season was lead the nation in steal percentage by a landslide, creating steals on 5.52 percent of opponents' possessions. That helped the Hornets finish No. 1 in the nation in defensive turnover percentage, at 28.3.
2 of 16Richard C. Lewis/Icon SMI
Jeff Allen doesn't have a major defensive rep due to the fact that he's an undersized five-man, but it's hard to ignore the statistical evidence of his contribution to the nation's 20th-most efficient defense. He leads the Hokies in defensive rebounding percentage (22.2, 96th nationally), block percentage (4.8), and steal percentage (3.8, 52nd nationally) -- all of which indicates he's a high-impact defender on one of the ACC's stingiest teams.
3 of 16John W. McDonough/SI
The primary reason the Boilers' defense was so good last season: They held opponents to just 41.6 percent on two-point attempts, the eighth-lowest percentage in the country. JaJuan Johnson was often the lone man patrolling the lane with his 7-4 wingspan, blocking 7.0 percent of opponents' attempts and altering many more.
4 of 16Bob Rosato/SI
The Monarchs were far and away the best defensive team in the CAA last season. That should be the case again in '10-11, especially with Kent Bazemore back to give opposing guards fits. His length (at 6-foot-5) and his aggressive nature (he was 19th nationally in steal percentage, at 4.4 percent) make him the ideal, oversized defender for coach Blaine Taylor's system.
5 of 16Fred Vuich/SI
Gilbert Brown is the perfect defender for the Panthers' switching man-to-man defense, in that he can guard the 1-4 positions. He's somewhat of an under-the-radar defensive talent -- and he's certainly not the only elite defender on his team -- but his formidable lockdown skills are beginning to be noticed by scouts, and he'll play a major role in Pitt's attempt to finally break through to a Final Four in '10-11.
6 of 16John Biever/SI
David Lighty is incredibly versatile: Although he's played minutes at power forward for the Buckeyes, he's also under consideration to take over the point as a senior. He's on this list because he can also guard four positions, using a mix of physicality and athleticism. His overall value earned him the captaincy of Seth Davis' All-Glue team last season.
7 of 16Eugene Tanner/Icon SMI
On a team where all the national attention is on his backcourt mate, All-America candidate Jimmer Fredette, Jackson Emery deserves recognition for being one of the country's best backcourt defenders. He was a member of the Mountain West's all-defensive team last season after posting a steal percentage of 5.0 -- the fifth-best in the nation. He was a huge reason why the Cougars had the most-efficient defense in the MWC.
8 of 16Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Only Marshall's Hassan Whiteside -- who was drafted in the second round by the Kings this June -- had a higher block percentage last season than David Foster, who swatted an absurd 17.4 percent of opponents' two-point attempts. The giant from Lake Forest, Calif., who took two years off from basketball (in '07-08 and '08-09) for an LDS mission, was named the Mountain West's Defensive Player of the Year last season.
9 of 16Robert Beck/SI
Chris Kramer, who graduated after last season, was always the Boilers guard most lauded for his D, winning two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year awards. But E'Twaun Moore has been a fierce perimeter defender in his own right while simultaneously shouldering the bulk of Purdue's offensive load. If the Boilers' defense doesn't see a huge drop-off after Kramer's departure, Moore will get more credit for his lockdown abilities.
10 of 16John Sommers II/Icon SMI
The Commodores' Swedish import has an impressive enough all-around game -- with averages of 13.3 points and 5.2 rebounds as a sophomore -- that he was recently named to the Wooden Award's preseason watch list. What makes him most attractive to NBA scouts, though, is the fact that he's one of college hoops' most versatile defenders: long and athletic enough to harass guards on the wing, while still sturdy enough to battle with forwards in the paint.
11 of 16Tim Vizer/Icon SMI
Damian Saunders was named the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year as a junior after a spectacular season in which he posted a defensive rebounding percentage of 19.8, a block percentage of 8.5 (47th nationally) and a steal percentage of 4.3 (22nd nationally). He had the highest steal percentage of any player taller than 6-foot-5 in the nation.
12 of 16Mark Goldman/Icon SMI
Iman Shumpert's status as one of the country's best lockdown defenders became obvious during the ACC tournament, when he gave Maryland's Greivis Vasquez (6-of-12 shooting) and Jon Scheyer (4-of-13) problems. Then in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Oklahoma State, Shumpert held soon-to-be first-rounder James Anderson to 3-of-12 shooting -- and only one of those field goals came within the Cowboys' half-court offense. Shumpert kept the Yellow Jackets in plenty of games in spite of their subpar offense.
13 of 16John Biever/SI
Ronald Nored might be the country's best harasser of jump shooters. Butler usually assigns him to hound an opponent's top outside gunner, and Nored's handiwork in the NCAA tournament's West Regional, where he locked down Syracuse's Andy Rautins and Kansas State's Jacob Pullen in succession, was a big reason why the Bulldogs reached the Final Four. With Nored and Shelvin Mack, another strong on-ball defender, still manning the backcourt, Butler should have another elite defensive team in '10-11.
14 of 16John Biever/SI
Late in the '08-09 season, Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar told the Seattle Times that Venoy Overton was "just becoming a giant pest defensively," creating steals and throwing off the rhythm of opposing ball handers. His rep continued to grow in '09-10, when he had a 3.2 steal percentage and UW was the second-most efficient defensive team in the Pac-10. Ask any good Pac-10 guard to name the most annoying or aggressive defender he's faced, and he'll likely say Overton.
15 of 16Greg Nelson/SI
On defense, Kenneth Faried is a possession-ender extraordinaire. He grabbed an amazing 36.1 percent of available defensive rebounds last season, the highest rate in the nation by more than six percent. He also blocks 8.1 percent of opponents' shots, ranking 53rd nationally, but it's mainly his skills on the glass, where he's established himself as the game's best all-around rebounder, that have earned him attention from NBA scouts.
16 of 16David E. Klutho/SI
Singleton is considered by many scouts and pundits alike to be the best all-around defender in college basketball. He helped make the Seminoles the nation's most efficient defensive team in the country last season, leading them in steals (with a 4.1 percentage) and defensive rebounding (17.0 percentage) while being named the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year. He displays a superb energy level on D, a knack for deflecting passes and altering shots -- and the fact that he has an extra-long, 6-foot-9 frame doesn't hurt, either.
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