Cockburn Named Abdul-Jabbar Award Finalist

From Illinois Sports Information Office:

March 4, 2022

(Photo courtesy Joe Clark/IlliniGuys)

Champaign, ILL.– The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday the five finalists for the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award, highlighted for the second year in a row by Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn.

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 eighth year recognizes the top centers in men's college basketball.

Joining Cockburn on the list of finalists for the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award are Walker Kessler (Auburn), Adam Sanogo (Connecticut), Drew Timme (Gonzaga) and Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky).

The finalists will be presented to Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame's selection committee. The winner of the 2022 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 is underway now on hoophallawards.com.

Kofi Cockburn 2021-22 Highlights

  • Only player in the nation averaging 20+ points and 10+ rebounds
  • College Hoops Today First-Team All-American
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Finalist
  • Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 Watch List
  • Naismith Trophy Midseason Team
  • Fifth in NCAA with nine games of 20+ points and 10+ boards
  • 11th in NCAA in scoring at 21.0 ppg
  • 10th in NCAA in rebounding at 10.5 rpg
  • 10th in NCAA in field goal shooting at 60.1%
  • 10th in kenpom player of the year standings
  • 11th nationally in kenpom offensive rating (115.4)
  • 16th in NCAA in double-doubles (14), despite missing five games

"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."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played for legendary coach and Hall of Famer John Wooden at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1966-1969. 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 (1967-1969). 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.

"This is a tremendous crop of student-athletes that are each deserving of winning this award," said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 1995. "It'll be a lot of fun to watch these young men play their hardest when the stakes at their highest as we come into the home stretch of the season."

The winner of the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award will be presented on a to be determined date, along with the other four members of the Men's Starting Five. Additional awards being presented include the Bob Cousy Point Guard Award, 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.

Previous winners of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award include two-time winner Luka Garza, Iowa (2020-21), Ethan Happ, Wisconsin (2019), Angel Delgado, Seton Hall (2018), Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga (2017), Jakob Poeltl, Utah (2016) and Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin (2015).

For more information on the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award and the latest updates, log onto hoophallawards.com and follow @hoophall and #KareemAward on Twitter and Instagram.

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