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NCAA.com | February 26, 2021

5 finalists for 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award announced

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Springfield, Mass. — The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today the five finalists for the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. Named after Class of 1995 Hall of Famer, Pac-12 Player of the Century and three-time NCAA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the annual honor in its seventh year recognizes the top centers in men’s college basketball.

The five finalists for the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are Kofi Cockburn (Illinois), Luka Garza (Iowa), Trevion Williams (Purdue), Evan Mobley (USC) and Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky).

“Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is widely regarded as the best college basketball player of all time,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “To be acknowledged as a finalist for an award that bears his name is a phenomenal achievement and these student athletes should be celebrated. As a player, person and talent evaluator, Kareem has always operated at an elite level and we are grateful for his continued involvement in the Naismith Starting Five.”

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A national committee of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 student-athletes in November, which was narrowed to 10 candidates in January and now just five finalists. This month, the finalists will be presented to Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winner of the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award will be determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame’s selection committee. Naismith Starting Five Fan Voting presented by Dell Technologies will go live today, February 26 on hoophallawards.com.

“This season has been one unlike any other and I know it has taken tremendous determination and discipline for these young men to focus and deliver a high level of play consistently,” said Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 1995. “In the next few weeks, we will be keeping a watchful eye to see who is able to take their game to the next level as the stakes rise.”

The winner of the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award will be presented on ESPN, along with the other four members of the Naismith Starting Five. Additional awards being presented include the Bob Cousy Point Guard Award, the Jerry West Shooting Guard Award, the Julius Erving Small Forward Award and the Karl Malone Power Forward Award, in addition to the Women’s Starting Five. Additional information about the award presentation, including date and time, will be released in the coming weeks.

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Previous winners of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award include Luka Garza, Iowa (2020), Ethan Happ, Wisconsin, (2019), Angel Delgado, Seton Hall (2018), Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga (2017), Jakob Poeltl, Utah (2016) and Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin (2015).

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