Penn State point guard, Ace Baldwin Jr. named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year

In his first and potentially only season at Penn State, Ace Baldwin Jr. had a historic defensive season and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year after leading the conference with 84 steals. Baldwin was named A10 DPOY last year at VCU.
Penn State Nittany Lions guard Ace Baldwin Jr (1)
Penn State Nittany Lions guard Ace Baldwin Jr (1) / Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

After being named the 2023 Atlantic-10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, Ace Baldwin Jr. followed his head coach Mike Rhoades from VCU to Happy Valley for his senior season, and on Tuesday it was announced that he’d be taking home some hardware in his new conference. 

Baldwin, who averaged a league-best 2.7 steals, was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, following Northwestern’s Chase Audige and Rutger’s Caleb McConnell, who were co-Defensive Players of the Year last season. Neither returned to school.

In February, Baldwin was named one of 15 players on the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Watchlist and finished the season with the fourth most steals in the country (84). Baldwin’s 2.71 steals per game were fifth most nationally and the most in the Big Ten since Pat Baldwin averaged 2.96 in 1993 for Northwestern. 

Along with his quick hands against opposing ball-handlers and jumping passing lanes, Baldwin added seven total blocks and 2.5 rebounds per game at just 6-foot-1. Voting has not been released, but Baldwin presumably edged out the 7-foot-4 Zach Edey who averaged 2.2 blocks and 11.7 rebounds for Purdue, or Rutgers’ 6-foot-11 center, Clifford Omoruyi, who led the conference with 2.9 blocks per game. 

Baldwin was also named to the All-Big Ten Third-Team while Zach Hicks, Nick Kern Jr., and Qudus Wahab were among a list of 19 honorable mentions. While Baldwin was recognized at Senior Night on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center, he does have one year of eligibility remaining and hasn’t closed the door on a return to the Nittany Lions in 2024-25.