Nation's best lockdown defenders

Briante Weber among most disruptive defensive players in college basketball

Updated: May 7, 2014, 12:41 PM ET
By Fran Fraschilla | ESPN Insider

WeberJeff Gross/Getty ImagesVCU guard Briante Weber has led the nation in steal rate each of the past three seasons.

When we identified the top five returning lockdown defenders for next season, it was no surprise they played on teams that combined to average almost 27 wins in 2013-14. They all set the tempo for elite defensive squads and will be important reasons their teams are likely to win big again this coming season.

Whether a great defensive team possesses a great shot-blocker or not, the defense begins at the point of attack -- the man with the ball.

These five harass their opposing player as well as anyone in the country. By disrupting opposing offenses, they set the tone that anyone trying to score against them is in for a long, hard battle -- and one they are unlikely to win.


Briante Weber, Virginia Commonwealth Rams

If there's a poster child for coach Shaka Smart's Havoc defense, it's Weber. The lightly recruited, 6-foot-2 guard has led the country in steal rate in all three of his seasons at VCU. He's averaged about a steal every 14 defensive possessions during his Rams career.

Weber will look to go 4-for-4 this coming season, and as long as Smart's multiple defensive pressure schemes remain a staple of the Rams' program, expect Weber to make a serious run at National Defensive Player of the Year. He would be my odds-on favorite going into the season.

Fran Fraschilla is a college basketball analyst for ESPN. He formerly was the head coach at Manhattan, St. John's and New Mexico.