Purdue women’s basketball junior Ae’Rianna Harris was revealed as a finalist for the 2019 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award on Tuesday and is one-of-four players nationally still eligible for the annual honor. Harris leads the Big Ten and ranks second in the nation with 104 blocked shots this season, marking her second straight season with at least 100 rejections, and was named the 2019 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
With three blocks in the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals against Rutgers, Harris laid claim to Purdue’s career blocked shots record with her 284thdenial. The total is already eighth in Big Ten Conference history, surpassing Purdue assistant coach and 2007 Honorable Mention All-America Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton on the list. Harris also ranks 25th in the NCAA in rebounding with 320 boards, including 222 on the defensive end, and added 37 steals on the year.
With 446 points, 320 rebounds and 104 blocked shots this season, Harris is one-of-two players in the nation this season, and one-of-five in Big Ten Conference history, to post at least 300 points, 300 rebounds and 100 blocked shots in a season. She joins Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B. as one-of two players in conference history to accomplish the feat more than once, and with one season left in West Lafayette could be the only player to ever do it three times.
Harris is one-of-four players in conference history to ever earn Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons and has also garnered Big Ten All-Defensive Team and Second-Team All-Big Ten recognition in each of the last two seasons. She leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the NCAA with 3.06 blocks per game this season and is fifth in the Big Ten with 9.4 rebounds per game.
Joining Harris on the finalist ballot for the national defensive player of the year award is Cal’s Kristine Anigwe, Baylor’s Lauren Cox and Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan. All four players were named the defensive player of the year in their respective conferences and McCowan was last season’s inaugural winner of the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.