Billy: Jordan Tolbert
I was impressed by Ben Moore's emergence this year defensively, but Jordan Tolbert was the more physically imposing figure in the paint for SMU. Tolbert was a rebounding machine. Even a quiet night by Tolbert's standards was likely in the double-digit range of rebounding. With Markus Kennedy having an up-and-down year, Tolbert had a few monster nights against OOC foes, but stayed consistent defensively throughout AAC play. Tolbert was a max-effort guy in his only season as an active SMU player and that stood out. His extra strength gave SMU a much-needed boost for much of the season and discouraged many opponents from even trying to hit the paint.
Scott: Jordan Tolbert
Highlighted by his crucial block with time running out against Cincinnati in January, Tolbert gets the nod for my Defensive MVP. The Texas Tech transfer was never the tallest, but his quick feet and active hands made bigs across the conference work for every basket. His physicality down on the block helped him when facing those bigger players, and kept him competitive when it came to rebounding. His less than one block (0.8) per game doesn’t standout on the stat sheet, but Tolbert was the kind of defensive player who simply did what was expected of him: play hard, don’t give up any easy shots. In my eyes, Tolbert was also the most consistent defensive player. While Jarrey Foster may have been the most raved about defensive player by Larry Brown, he also only played 17 minutes a game compared to nearly 27 a game for Tolbert. In the end, the senior consistently played above-average defense all season long, which earned him Defensive MVP honors.
Hatts: Ben Moore
SMU was once again stellar this season on the defensive side of the ball and one of the main reasons was the length of Ben Moore. On any given night, Moore was guarding some of the toughest big men; he did a great job on Kyle Wiltjer and Daniel Hamilton just to name a few. The junior big man finished the season with 41 blocks, which was tops by a large margin over Markus Kennedy, as well as, 21 steals. Moore developed into one of the leaders with the way he communicated and the amount of times he was able to tip a pass away inside. SMU may have struggled to guard out on the perimeter but they were strong inside in large part due to the play of Ben Moore. There was concern coming into the season that SMU was going to miss the defensive presence of Ryan Manuel and Cannen Cunningham but Moore filled that role admirably by becoming SMU’s most athletic defender.
Patrick: Ben Moore
In 2015-16, SMU wasn’t quite the strong defensive team it was the two previous years. After losing three good defenders from last year’s team, it's not a total shock the team didn’t have the depth of individual defensive ability it did last year. I’m picking Ben Moore for defensive MVP. While his growth into a consistent offensive player may have been more noticeable, his defense on opposing four-men was very good. He helped hold Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer to four points and 2-for-17 shooting. He was largely responsible for Memphis’ Dedric Lawson in two matchups and held him to a combined 4-for-15 shooting on 2-pointers. He had a 16.9 defensive rebounding rate too and helped hold SMU’s opponents to a 44.6 percentage on 2-pointers.
Demo: Jordan Tolbert
It’s hard to pick one of these guys as the Defensive MVP because each one stepped up at certain moments of the season and each provided their own element to the defensive side of the ball. The easiest choice would be Nic Moore, but I won’t do that. One could also make the case for Sterling Brown and his outrageous shooting percentage and all around effort, but that doesn’t shout ‘MVP’ at me. So my pick for MVP this season is Jordan Tolbert, if for no other reason than because he dominated the defensive glass time and time again. SMU had a knack for getting multiple looks on every possession, but also made sure its opponents didn’t have the same luxury. Tolbert’s presence had a lot to do with that. SMU was relatively height challenged when compared to last season’s roster, but what they lacked in height the made up for in mass. Tolbert’s large body made him hard to move off a spot and allowed him to box out well and absolutely swallow rebounds. For that reason, he is my Defensive MVP.