Bassey a finalist for Abdul-Jabbar top center award

Western Kentucky freshman center Charles Bassey has been named one of five 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 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 Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame's selection committee. The winner of the 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 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 freshman finalist.

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 the field.

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.

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