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  1. NCAAB

NCAAB - US Sports: Pikiell praises 'one-of-a-kind' McConnell

Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell has heaped the praise on Caleb McConnell after the guard picked up the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award.

Rutgers are 60/1 to win the NCAAB Championship outright, while Duke can be backed at 12/1.

Praise all merited for McConnell

McConnell managed 67 steals over the course of the regular season at an average of 2.2 per-game. The senior guard averaged 6.5 points-per-game and college career-highs in rebounds and assists with 5.2 and 2.1 respectively.

Pikiell feels McConnell fully deserves the award and he says the Jacksonville-native is the best defender in the NCAA right now.

"In my 30-plus years of coaching, I have coached a lot of great defenders, and I can truly say [McConnell] is a one-of-a-kind defensive player, who can guard all five spots," said Pikiell, via the Daily Targum.

"I want to congratulate [McConnell] on this prestigious award. I truly believe he is not only the best defender in the Big Ten Conference, but the best defender in the country."

McConnell is eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft but he could stay for one more year due to the free year of eligibility granted by the NCAA.

The Scarlet Knights are the fourth seed in the Big Ten Tournament and begin their postseason campaign in Indianapolis on Friday against either Iowa, Northwestern or Nebraska.

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No decision yet on future moves

Speaking before Rutgers' final regular season game against Penn State, McConnell revealed he is yet to make a decision on his next move after this campaign comes to an end as he is keeping his full focus on his current team. 

"I feel like we are playing for something more than myself," he said, as reported by Scarlet Nation.

"I feel like that would be selfish of me to think of my future too much. Right now, I really just want to focus on getting wins and furthering our season."

He added: "I would love to play in the league, love to play overseas. That has always been my dream and goal so we'll see. Like I said, anything can happen. The NBA is looking for all type of jobs, not just 50-point scorers. So we'll see what it brings."

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