OMAHA, Neb. — Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner has been named 2023 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. Kalkbrenner is just the 11th player in league history to win the recognition more than once, joining the likes of Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Kris Dunn and Allen Iverson among those to win the award multiple times, and is the first repeat winner since former Bluejay guard Khyri Thomas in 2017 and 2018.
Creighton has now had a BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year in four of the past seven seasons.
Kalkbrenner leads the BIG EAST with 2.2 blocked shots per game, which ranks 18th nationally. The Florissant, Mo., native ranks second in CU history with 189 career blocked shots and anchors a Bluejay defense that led the league during conference play in scoring defense, scoring margin and field goal percentage defense. Kalkbrenner had a streak of 25 straight games with a blocked shot snapped on Saturday in an 84-70 win at DePaul and is also second on the team with 6.3 rebounds per game.
St. John’s center Joel Soriano was named BIG EAST Most Improved Player. Marquette sophomore David Joplin has been chosen for the BIG EAST Sixth Man Award and Villanova senior Caleb Daniels was named the winner of the BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award. The league’s head coaches choose the award winners and they are not permitted to vote for their own players.
The BIG EAST will announce the remaining individual awards: Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year and outstanding Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete at a press conference at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, March 8th.
Kalkbrenner and Creighton return to the court on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. Central in quarterfinal round play of the BIG EAST Tournament Presented by JEEP. CU will face the winner of Wednesday night’s Villanova/Georgetown First Round match-up.