Maryland men’s basketball guard Darryl Morsell won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award, the conference announced Tuesday afternoon. He is the first player in team history to win a conference’s top defensive honor.

Morsell, a Baltimore native, started in 23 of 26 games he played, averaging one steal and 0.6 blocks per game.

“I am so proud of Darryl for earning this prestigious award as the best defender in the best league in the country,” coach Mark Turgeon said in a statement. “Darryl worked incredibly hard to reach this point and to see it validated is extremely special.”

The senior’s defensive influence goes far beyond the stat line. He’s been a steadying presence in a new-look Terps defense, one that ranks second in the Big Ten with 64.7 points allowed per game, just behind Wisconsin.

And when matched up against the conference’s elite, Morsell has shined. The guard locked down Big Ten stalwarts Marcus Carr, Ron Harper Jr. and Ayo Dosunmu en route to season-defining victories.

In addition to the award, Morsell was named to the conference’s all-defensive team. It’s the fourth straight season a Maryland player was selected for the squad.

Morsell, who also picked up the program’s sportsmanship award, received All-Big Ten Honorable Mention accolades, along with fellow Terps Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins. It’s the second all-conference selection for Morsell and the first for Ayala and Wiggins.

Maryland will begin play at the Big Ten Tournament against Michigan State on Thursday.

“It is truly an honor to be selected for this award by Big Ten coaches,” Morsell said in a statement. “I know this is an individual award, but it is truly a team award. We accomplished this together and I cannot say enough about the guys in our locker room who made it happen.”

[Drawing on Baltimore roots, Darryl Morsell is a leader for Maryland men’s basketball]