Links: College Insider Release
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Senior point guard Juvaris Hayes of the Merrimack College men’s basketball team was named the recipient of the 2019-20 Lefty Driesell Award on Tuesday, given annually to the nation’s best defensive player.
Hayes’ noteworthy season included leading all of Division I in both total steals (121) and steals per game (3.9). Hayes picked up his game in Northeast Conference (NEC) action, averaging 4.5 steals per game – more than two thefts more than the next closest NEC competitor – and posted 81 steals overall, more than double the total of the next closest player. He also led the country in steal percentage (6.5) and posted nine separate games with at least five steals, including a career-high tying nine at Central Connecticut.
The point guard established a new NCAA record (across divisions) in career steals with 457, breaking a 17-year mark. Hayes posted at least 120 steals in each of his last three seasons, finishing his senior year with the third most steals in a single year in NEC history. As a sophomore, Hayes set a Northeast-10 Conference (Division II) single-season record with 124 thefts, only to best that one year later as a junior with a career-high 125-steal campaign.
The NEC Defensive Player of the Year’s efforts helped enable Merrimack to have the NEC’s top defensive unit. In league play, the Warriors led the conference in scoring defense (58.6 point allowed/gm), field goal percentage defense (.405), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.292), steals per game (9.8) and turnover margin (+5.4). Nationally, Merrimack ranked tied for seventh in scoring defense while ranking fourth in both steals per game and turnover margin. The Warriors were one of six teams nationally to force over 300 steals in Division I, as well.
In addition to winning the 2019-20 Lefty Driesell Award, Hayes was named to the 2020 Lefty Driesell Defensive All-American Team.
About the Lefty Driesell Award
Driesell, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, won 786 games in 41 years at Davidson, Maryland, James Madison and Georgia State. He ranks eighth on the NCAA career Division I coaches victories list and his teams at each stop were known for playing tenacious defense. From 1969-1986 at Maryland, his teams posted a 348-159 record, won two Atlantic Coast Conference regular season titles and one tournament title. Driesell also led Davidson, Georgia State and James Madison to the NCAA tournament, making him one of three coaches to reach the NCAAs with four different programs. His teams won a total of 16 regular season championships and six tournament championships.