SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — WKU Hilltopper Basketball freshman center Charles Bassey has
been named 1 of 5 finalists for the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year
Award, as announced Friday by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Named after Class of 1995 Hall of Famer and three-time NCAA Champion Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar, the annual honor in its fifth year recognizes the top centers in men’s
college basketball. A national committee comprising top college basketball personnel
determined the watch list of 21 candidates in October and narrowed that list to 10
in February before trimming to five this week.
“I’m proud to be a finalist for an award named after one of the best to ever play
this game,” Bassey said. “It’s an honor to represent my school in this way, and I
couldn’t have grown as a player over this season without my teammates and coaches.”
This month, the five finalists will be presented to Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of
Fame’s selection committee. The winner of the 2019 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. Fans are encouraged to visit
www.HoophallAwards.com to cast their votes March 8-29.
The other finalists are Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, Maryland’s Bruno Fernando,
Georgetown’s Jesse Govan and William & Mary’s Nathan Knight. Bassey is the only
Bassey – a 6-foot-11, 245-pound native of Lagos, Nigeria – is averaging 15 points,
9.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks for the Hilltoppers while shooting 62.9 percent from
He leads Conference USA in double-doubles (15) and ranks in the top 30 nationally in
double-doubles, field-goal percentage, blocks per game, total blocks, rebounds per
game, defensive rebounds per game and total rebounds.
Bassey is the only player in the nation this season with 308 rebounds, 74 blocks and
He could become just the second freshmen since 1992 – along with Greg Oden – to
average at least 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks while shooting at least 60
The center has been named C-USA Freshman of the Week nine times and has more blocks
by himself this season than 69 Division I teams.
He’s also played his best basketball against top competition, averaging 17.8 points,
10.4 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.4 steals in five games against Wisconsin’s Happ,
Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford, UCF’s Tacko Fall, West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate and
Washington’s Noah Dickerson.
Bassey tallied 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting along with six rebounds and four blocks
against fellow finalist Happ in WKU’s 83-76 win over Wisconsin in December. Happ
finished 9 of 23 from the field.
Bassey has done all of this after just turning 18 years old on Oct. 28 and while
maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average.
The winner of the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award will be presented at The College
Basketball Awards presented by Wendy’s in Los Angeles, Calif., on Friday, April 12,
along with the other four members of the Naismith Starting 5.
“The Naismith Starting 5 is an opportunity for the Hall of Fame to annually
celebrate the best in the college game,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “We’ve had some really
remarkable winners over the past four seasons and I look forward to meeting this
year’s winner in Los Angeles.”
Previous winners of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award include Angel
Delgado, Seton Hall (2018), Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga (2017), Jakob Poeltl, Utah
(2016) and Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin (2015).
“Kareem Abdul-Jabbar built a legacy at UCLA with unparalleled accolades as an
individual and as part of a championship winning team,” said John L. Doleva,
President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “To be acknowledged as a finalist
for the award that bears his name is a remarkable honor and I hope these
student-athletes feel a great sense of pride.”
For more information and the latest updates on the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award,
log onto www.hoophallawards.com and follow @hoophall and #KareemAward on Twitter and
2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Finalists
Jessie Govan, Georgetown
Bruno Fernando, Maryland
Charles Bassey, WKU
Nathan Knight, William & Mary
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin