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Pac-12 defensive player of the year candidates: Gary Payton, Kadeem Allen, Chris Boucher

Lot of good candidates

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Let's take a look at the Pac-12 defensive player of the year candidates.

Gary Payton II, Oregon State Beavers: This might just go right back to the current reining defensive player of the year once again. Payton takes after his dad and is one of the most prolific pick-pockets in college basketball (4.4 steal percentage). There was a cost for all that gambling (Oregon State had a very average defense), but the name recognition might make the difference.

Chris Boucher, Oregon Ducks: Where did this performance come from? Boucher became one of the most proficient shot blockers in the nation and is Oregon's best rebounder. Oregon didn't have a great defense this season, but Boucher's impact on the defensive end allows the rest of the Ducks to focus on being an elite offense.

Kadeem Allen, Arizona Wildcats: Watch out for Kadeem as a sleeper here. Arizona has always had good defenders, and Allen is the latest incarnation. Allen is the best shot blocking guard in the conference, a good rebounder from the guard position, and can steal quite well too. Lots of tools in the shed for the Wildcats defense.

Jakob Poeltl, Utah Utes: Gotta mention Poeltl. Utah has one of the best defenses in the Pac-12 due to Poeltl's presence in the paint. He's the anchor to prevent easy buckets and is a great rebounder and blocker, and ensures Utah can go to work on offense and do what they need to do.

Josh Scott, Colorado Buffaloes: Scott is one of the elite shot blockers in the nation and grabs a bunch of rebounds while having to do everything offensively. With the Buffs not having a ton of great talent, Scott has been carrying a huge load on both ends.

Ivan Rabb, California Golden Bears: Rabb isn't flashy enough, but he is one of the centerpieces of an outstanding Cal defense that was one of the elite shooting defenses in the nation. It was a team defensive effort, but Rabb deserves a great deal of the credit for upgrading Cal's interior defense and being a solid rebounder and blocker.