SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Freshman Jalen Smith was one of 20 players named to the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award watch list announced Friday. 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.
Nicknamed “Stix”, the Baltimore, Md. native capped off an illustrious high school career at Mount Saint Joseph as the two-time Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year, two-time Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year and two-time Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year. Smith averaged 23 points, 12.5 rebounds and three blocks as a senior, leading the Gaels to a 31-8 record.
He continued to bring home the honors as a senior, as the 6-10 big man was named a McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic selection.
Smith has wasted no time making his impact felt as a Terrapin, as he was named the MVP of the team’s final game on tour in Italy after posting 12 points and 12 rebounds in a win over the Netherlands “B” National team.
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 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 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award will be presented at The College Basketball Awards presented by Wendy’s in Los Angeles, CA on Friday, April 12, 2019, along with the other four members of the Naismith Starting 5. Additional awards being presented and receiving support from Eaton Ephesus Lighting include the Bob Cousy Point Guard Award, the Jerry West Shooting Guard Award, the Julius Erving Small Forward Award and the Karl Malone Power Forward Award. Broadcast information will be released by ESPN at a later date.
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).