|Justin Simon bringing the ball up. @StJohnsBball.|
St. John's guard Justin Simon has been named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s coaches, it was announced Monday morning.
Simon becomes just the third player in program history to receive this honor from the conference, joining Mark Jackson in 1987 and Sir’Dominic Pointer in 2015.
The Temecula, Calif., native ranked third on the team and seventh in the league overall with 1.4 steals per game and solidified a reputation as one of the nation’s best lockdown defenders,
Despite seeing a drop from his 2.48 steals per game average that led the Big East in 2017-18, Simon has taken his role as a defensive stopper to a new level in 2018-19. That defensive tenacity was never more evident than in the Red Storm’s pair of wins against nationally ranked Marquette this season. Drawing the primary responsibility of guarding national player of the year finalist Markus Howard, Simon helped limit the Big East’s leading scorer to just 12.5 points per game on 21.8 percent shooting from the floor and 37.5 shooting from beyond the arc. On the season, Howard is averaging 25.0 points per game on 43.1 percent shooting from the field, including a 41.6 percent success rate from three-point range.
Simon also played a critical role in the Red Storm’s other marquee win in conference play, anchoring a Red Storm defensive effort that held the veteran Villanova duo of Eric Paschall and Phil Booth to 4-of-22 shooting from the field in a 71-65 victory at Madison Square Garden.
Simon helped hold the league’s top three non-St. John’s scorers below their season averages in two games against Johnnies.
A 6-foot-5 guard, Simon is also the Red Storm’s top shot blocker this season with 19 rejections.
With Simon anchoring the team’s defensive effort, St. John’s ranks 33rd nationally in turnovers forced per game (15.52), 12th in steals per game (8.8) and fourth in turnover margin (+5.1).
Simon and the Red Storm will begin postseason play on Wednesday night, taking on DePaul at 9:30 p.m. in the opening round of the Big East Tournament.