Zeigler Chosen as a Lefty Driesell Defensive Player of the Year Award Finalist

(Courtesy / UT Sports)

Zeigler Chosen as a Lefty Driesell Defensive Player of the Year Award Finalist

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –Zakai Zeigler of the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team is a finalist for the Lefty Driesell Defensive Player of the Year Award, as announced Monday afternoon.

This is the second season in a row Zeigler is among the finalists for the elite honor. He was also one of 10 semifinalists for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Zeigler already collected SEC Defensive Player of the Year accolades earlier this month. He is the second Volunteer to win the award and the third individual, regardless of school, under 6-foot to do so.

The Long Island, N.Y., native ranks fourth in the SEC with 1.82 steals per game. In conference play, he placed second in the league with 2.11 per outing.

Zeigler has logged multiple steals in 16 contests this season, logging three-plus 10 times and four-plus seven times. The latter mark is good for a top-15 spot nationally, co-seventh among Power Six players and second in the SEC.

With 62 steals this year, Zeigler ranks ninth on Tennessee’s single-season leaderboard. His 180 steals in three years as a Volunteer put him fifth all-time in the program record books, as well as fifth among active SEC players. Zeigler is averaging 1.83 steals per game in his career, fourth-best all-time at Tennessee and second-best among active SEC players.

Zeigler’s career steal percentage of 3.93 is sixth-best among SEC players over the last 14 seasons (2010-24), per College Basketball Reference, which also puts him ninth in career defensive box plus/minus during that time with a 4.94 mark.

The Jim Phelan Award, named after the legendary coach who won 786 games in 41 seasons, is presented by CollegeInsider.com. The recipient of the award is determined by a 10-member voting committee, which includes current and former head coaches, as well as CollegeInsider.com staff members.

Zeigler is among 25 finalists for the award, including one of 15 in a Power Six league and one of three from the SEC. The other players in the latter category are Auburn’s Johni Broome and Texas A&M’s Andersson Garcia.

Zeigler and sixth-ranked, second-seeded Tennessee (26-8, 14-4 SEC) resume play Friday at 9:59 p.m. against No. 11-ranked, third-seeded Creighton in the Sweet 16, live on TBS and truTV from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

To keep up with the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team on social media, follow @Vol_Hoops on Instagram and X/Twitter, as well as /tennesseebasketball on Facebook.  

Justin Abson, Appalachian State
Adrian “Ace” Baldwin Jr., Penn State
Reece Beekman, Virginia
Adem Bona, UCLA
Boo Buie, Northwestern
Johni Broome, Auburn
Devin Carter, Providence
Isaiah Cozart, Eastern Kentucky
Isaiah Crawford, Louisiana Tech
Ryan Dunn, Virginia
Zach Edey, Purdue
KiAndre Gaddy, Tarleton State
Andersson Garcia, Texas A&M
Dajuan Harris Jr., Kansas
DaRon Holmes II, Dayton
Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton
Malevy Leons, Bradley
Tamin Lipsey, Iowa State
Bez Mbeng, Yale
Clifford Omoruyi, Rutgers
Jamal Shead, Houston
Charles Thompson, Towson
Kellen Tynes Jr., Maine
Amari Williams, Drexel
Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee

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