WACO, Texas (Baylor Athletics) Baylor junior guard DiDi Richards swept the nation’s highest defensive honors, taking home the 2020 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award Wednesday after winning the WBCA’s Defensive Player of the Year on Monday.
Naismith began handing out the women’s defensive player of the year award in 2018, making Richards the third player to win the honor. She beat out South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, Arizona’s Aari McDonald and Louisville’s Kylee Shook for the award.
“I would like to start by thanking God, I wouldn’t be here playing this beautiful sport without Him. Thank you to the Naismith committee for selecting me, and I would like to thank my family that has believed in me from day one,” said Richards. “Defense is the first thing I learned in the game. Growing up, my dad took me to my elementary parking lot and made me ‘beat him to the spot.’ All I wanted to do was shoot the ball, but we relentlessly did drills while he yelled ‘Defense wins championships!’ I guess he was right. Hard work does truly pay off.”
The Cypress, Texas, native brings home her seventh defensive honor of the postseason. She was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the league’s head coaches and the Waco Tribune-Herald. She was a unanimous selection to the coaches’ All-Big 12 Defensive Team, and she was named Texas Player of the Year and to the All-Texas Defensive Team by Dave Campbell’s Texas Basketball.
Richards spearheaded a defensive effort for the 28-2 Lady Bears, that led the nation in field goal percentage defense for the fourth-straight year at .310. According to Synergy, the widely-used coaches video exchange, Richards held her defensive assignments to a .262 field goal percentage this season.
She set career highs with 1.7 steals per game and 25 blocks on the season.
This is the fifth time a Baylor player has taken home a national defensive player of the year award, with Brittney Griner winning the WBCA’s honor three-straight seasons from 2011-2013 and Richards winning the WBCA and Naismith honor in 2020.
Richards averaged 8.2 points per game in her junior campaign and led the Big 12 in assists per game (5.7) and assists-to-turnover ratio (2.92), the fourth-best mark in the nation.