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Friday, October 19, 2018

KU junior Udoka Azubuike named to Abdul-Jabbar watchlist

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) dumps a pass to the middle beyond Oklahoma guard Kameron McGusty (20) and Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (3) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) dumps a pass to the middle beyond Oklahoma guard Kameron McGusty (20) and Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (3) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma.

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After learning that he had earned a preseason all-Big 12 honorable mention nod from the league's coaches earlier this week, Kansas center Udoka Azubuike found his name as one of 20 on the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award watchlist, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday.

The Abdul-Jabbar rounds out the preseason Naismith Starting 5 awards recently released by the Hall of Fame and Kansas has one student-athlete on four of the five lists.

Azubuike joins KU teammates Devon Dotson (Bob Cousy Award), Quentin Grimes (Jerry West Award) and Dedric Lawson (Karl Malone Award) as players to keep an eye on at their respective positions during the upcoming college basketball season.

A junior from Nigeria, who is coming off of his first full season with the Jayhawks, Azubuike led the nation and broke the Kansas and Big 12 single-season field goal percentage record at 77 percent in 2017-18.

The center who averaged 13 points, seven rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game for KU a season ago, earned all-Big 12 third team honors and also was named to the Academic All-Big 12 second team.

After flirting with turning pro, which included attending the NBA's pre-draft combine in Chicago, Azubuike elected to return to KU for his junior season and he will look not only to add whatever individual awards he can to his resume, but also to help lead Kansas to another Big 12 title and national championship contention.

One man familiar with doing both of those things for a long, long time is Abdul-Jabbar, who played for legendary coach and Hall of Famer John Wooden at UCLA from 1966-69. He is a three-time NCAA Champion who earned numerous accolades including three-time Final Four Most Outstanding Player, three-time National College Player of the Year and three-time Consensus First-Team All-American (1967-69). As a professional, Abdul-Jabbar is a six-time NBA Champion, six-time NBA Most Valuable Player, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 19-time NBA All-Star and the league's all-time leading scorer.

By mid-February, the watch list of 20 players for the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award will be narrowed down to 10. In March, five finalists will be presented to Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame's selection committee and the winner will be awarded at The College Basketball Awards next April in Los Angeles.

For more information and the latest updates on the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, log onto www.hoophallawards.com and follow @hoophall and #KareemAward on Twitter and Instagram.

2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Candidates

Daniel Gafford, Arkansas

Austin Wiley, Auburn

James Thompson IV, Eastern Michigan

Jessie Govan, Georgetown

Killian Tillie, Gonzaga

Alessandro Lever, Grand Canyon

Udoka Azubuike, Kansas

Nick Richards, Kentucky

Cameron Krutwig, Loyola Chicago

Naz Reid, LSU

Jalen Smith, Maryland

Dewan Hernandez, Miami

Nick Ward, Michigan State

Jontay Porter, Missouri

Bol Bol, Oregon

Moses Brown, UCLA

James Dickey, UNC Greensboro

Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky

Nathan Knight, William & Mary

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Players can play their way onto and off of the list at any point in the 2018-19 season

Comments

Barry Weiss 3 weeks, 5 days ago

In some ways, I thought Dok took a bit of a step back last year. Maybe it was just the FT thing, I don't know. But with his size, he should be an automatic double, double every game. Hope he has the FT stroke down. Minimum he should be 60%.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 5 days ago

A step back last year?

He essentially didn't play his first season so a nothing for results.

That being said 60% would be a nice goal.

Barry Weiss 3 weeks, 5 days ago

I did not look at his stats, so I'm sure he improved. That was just my personal expectation. After his first year, I thought he would really break out last year and go in the top 15 of the NBA draft. I missed that...lol He had to play so many minutes last year, maybe with the added help he will be able to rest some and then become more of a rim protector and rebounding machine this year.

Dave Miller 3 weeks, 5 days ago

I think the later 1/3 of the conference games and the post season (when he could play) was a big step forward for Dok. The biggest problem was getting him the ball down low at the spots where he could work. But when he did get the ball at the right spot at the right time, he just shined!! I expect bigger and better things from Dok this season and I think 60% of his FT's should be expected from him, not a goal for him.

Marius Rowlanski 3 weeks, 5 days ago

Do we start the season without Silvio or does Self go all in and plays Silvio?

Barry Weiss 3 weeks, 5 days ago

Obviously I do not know all the facts, but if there is evidence that money went to Silvio's family, sadly I would sacrifice him as a peace offering to the NCAA to show KU takes action, like it did last year with Preston. I really like Silvio and hope the NCAA tells us his deal is ok.

Adam Bengtson 3 weeks, 3 days ago

IT will be a pick your poison year with Udoka and Dedric down low with the passing ability of Dedric. Udoka will have many alley oops and less double teams. This is why it will be nice to let guards grow as those dominate with size down low.

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