Western Kentucky freshman center Charles Bassey has been named one of 20 watch list members for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year award, 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 20 candidates.
Bassey – a 6-foot-11, 245-pound native of Lagos, Nigeria – was ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the 2018 class by the 247Sports Composite ratings. He's the highest-ranked recruit to compete for the Hilltoppers in several decades and certainly in the modern recruiting era since the rise in popularity of the internet ranking outlets.
Bassey averaged 19.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.4 blocks, 2.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game as a junior for Aspire Academy in Louisville before reclassifying into the 2018 class. At 17 years old, he's believed to be among the top-five youngest players in college basketball this season.
Bassey became the first player ever to be named MVP two years in a row at the Pangos All-American Camp, and he broke the Nike Hoop Summit record for rebounds with 17 in the World team's victory over Team USA last April. He was also MVP of the 2018 Basketball Without Borders camp.
By mid-February, the watch list of 20 players for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award will be narrowed down to just 10. In March, five finalists will be presented to Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame's selection committee.
The winner of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award will be presented at The College Basketball Awards presented by Wendy's in Los Angeles on April 12 along with the other four members of the Naismith Starting 5.
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).