🏀 Azubuike Named a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Finalist
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Kansas senior Udoka Azubuike has been named one of five finalists to the 2020 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday.
Joining Azubuike as finalists for the 2020 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke), Filip Petrusev (Gonzaga), Luka Garza (Iowa) and Nathan Knight (William & Mary). The award began in 2015 and Azubuike is looking to be the first Jayhawk to win the honor.
A national committee of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 student-athletes in October, which was narrowed to 10 candidates in early February and now just five finalists. This month, the finalists will be presented to Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winner of the 2020 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 will go live today, March 6 via hoophallawards.com.
Azubuike leads the NCAA in field goal percentage at 75.1%. The Delta, Nigeria, center is the only player in the Big 12 averaging a double-double with 13.7 ppg and 10.4 rpg. He is averaging 17.8 ppg and 13.7 rpg in his last six outings with 17 blocked shots. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week (1/27, 2/10, 2/24), Azubuike also leads the Big 12 in double-doubles with 14 and is second in blocked shots at 2.6. A force in Big 12 play, Azubuike is the only player in the NCAA averaging a double-double (13.9 ppg, 11.6 rpg) and 3+ blocks (3.1 bpg) in conference games this season.
A three-time Academic All-Big 12 selection, Azubuike recorded his 1,000th-career point on Feb. 24 vs. Oklahoma State. He is the sixth Jayhawk in KU history to post 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 150 blocks in a career.
As a sophomore in leading Kansas to the 2018 Final Four, Azubuike led the nation with a 77.0 field goal percentage, which set the KU and Big 12 single-season records and ranks second-best for a season in NCAA history.
Azubuike is on pace to break the Kansas and Big 12 career field goal percentage records. He has posted a 74.7 field goal percentage in his three seasons at KU with the school record being set by Mark Randall (1987, 1989-91) who made 62.0 percent. The Big 12 mark is 63.5 percent set by Ricardo Ratliffe of Missouri from 2010-12 and the NCAA record is 74.0 by Tacko Fall of UCF from 2016-19.