Watanabe is the first player in school history to be named A-10 Defensive Player of the Year
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — After turning in one of the finest defensive seasons in school history, senior guard Yuta Watanabe highlighted GW men’s basketball’s conference awards as he was named the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday.
Watanabe was also tabbed to the All-Conference Third Team and All-Defensive Team, while graduate student Patrick Steeves earned a spot on the All-Academic Team for the second straight year.
A 6-foot-9 product of Kagawa, Japan, Watanabe made a name for himself by consistently shutting down the opposition’s best player. His versatility and ability to guard four positions on the floor, from 5-foot-9 guards to post players, earned him repeated praise from opposing coaches throughout the season.
Watanabe leads the team and ranks third in the conference with 49 blocks while also contributing 25 steals. His 36.7 minutes per game rank 28th nationally, but that hasn’t stopped him from having the most productive season of his career on the offensive side. He leads GW in scoring (16.6 ppg), three-point shooting (.369), free throw percentage (.789) and ranks second with 6.3 rebounds per game. As his senior season comes to a close he has taken his game to another level, averaging 21.8 points on .432 shooting from three while also adding 6.9 rebounds over the last eight games. During the full A-10 season, Watanabe averaged 18.4 points while shooting .419 (39-93) from three-point range.
Watanabe is the first player in school history to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors and is also the first Colonial to pick up a major award from the conference since Kevin Larsen was named Most Improved Player in 2013-14.
Steeves, who is working towards a master’s of science in business analytics at GW, holds a 3.96 GPA. He earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard, where he majored in applied mathematics and achieved a 3.71 GPA. On the court, he’s started 30 games and is contributing career bests in scoring (10.4 ppg), rebounding (5.3 rpg), field goal percentage (.536) and assists (2.1). He’s reached double figures in scoring 14 times this season after doing it nine times all of last year, and he has three 20-point games.
The recipient of the Pat Tallent Student-Athlete Award, Steeves is a CoSIDA First Team All-District Selection and is one of 41 players nationally vying for Academic All-America honors. Steeves’ selection to the A-10 All-Academic Team marks the seventh consecutive season at least one GW student-athlete has made the team, the longest such streak in the conference.