Thybulle is the first UW player to win the Pac-12's Defensive Player of the Year award.

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Matisse Thybulle became the first Washington men’s basketball player to win the Pac-12 Defensive Player of Year award.

The 6-foot-5 junior guard shattered Washington’s single-season steals record and ranks second in the nation with 92. He’s within striking distance of the Pac-12 record of 110 set by California’s Jason Kidd in 1992-93.

Thybulle’s 44 blocks also ranks seventh in the Pac-12.

“You go by the numbers,” coach Mike Hopkins said. “He’s impacted winning on the defensive end more than anybody in our league.”

Thybulle is credited with leading Washington’s 2-3 zone, which ranks third in the Pac-12 allowing 70.3 points per game to league opponents.

“I’d say the zone has helped a lot,” Thybulle said. “A lot of people don’t remember I led the Pac-12 in steals last year, but I didn’t average nearly as many as I had this year. I think Coach Hop has put me in a great position to showcase what I’m capable of doing. And it just highlights all of my strengths defensively. And that’s just gone a long ways to helping me do what I do this season.”

UW junior forward Noah Dickerson, a first-team All-Pac-12 forward, said Thybulle is a defensive freak.

“We don’t really play much man in practice, but when we do and I see him on the other team and we have to run a play, you don’t want to throw toward him,” Dickerson said. “People get mad when you don’t throw it to them. But Matisse is right there, I don’t know if you’re really open. You can put your hand out all you want, I don’t know if you’re really open. He’s really good at reading the passing lanes. My man is a freak of nature out there on the defensive end. My man is really out there in coverage.”