Former Lovejoy standout Justin Tuoyo wins Defensive Player of the Year honors for third straight season By Luke Strickland

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LOVEJOY — For the third straight season, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga center and former Lovejoy High standout Justin Tuoyo was named the Defensive Player of the Year in the Southern Conference for the 2016-17 season.

Tuoyo led the SoCon in blocked shots this season with 2.9 per game. That mark was good for sixth overall nationally. He has blocked 87 shots so far this season, which is 17 behind the school record of 104 he set during the 2014-15 campaign.

The talented big man already holds the UTC record for blocks in a career and is fourth in conference history with 268. He was also named to the SoCon’s All-Conference First Team.

In high school, Tuoyo averaged a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds as a junior and 14 points and 10 rebounds as a senior. His blocks per game average rose from 5.0 per game as a junior to nearly 8.0 per game as a senior. He was chosen as an All-Region First Team player in both seasons and was an All-State selection as a senior.

UTC is currently 19-11 this season. Tuoyo will try to help his team return to the NCAA Tournament this weekend when the SoCon Championships begin.