Though UCLA handily beat Arizona on Tuesday night, Christian Koloko’s play was something Bruins coach Mick Cronin was quick to point out, calling Koloko the most improved player in the country.
He may also be the best defender in college basketball, or at least on the short list.
Koloko has been named to the watch list for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, it was announced Thursday. He is one of 15 players on the list, the only one from the Pac-12.
The 7-foot-1 junior is averaging 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game, shooting 63.9 percent from the field and 74.6 percent from the line. He leads the Pac-12 in blocks per game and is tied for 10th nationally.
Koloko’s defensive rating is 79.9, which is tied for third in Division I and the lowest of any UA player over the past 12 seasons. And his 116 career blocks rank eighth in school history.