Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Willie Cauley-Stein Named Finalist for Center of the Year Award


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University of Kentucky basketball star Willie Cauley-Stein has been named as a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.  The Center of the Year award is one of four inaugural awards presented to the top players in college basketball by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Surprisingly, no other Kentucky Wildcat was nominated as a finalist for any of the position honors.  That speaks volumes as to how deep, talented, as well as unselfish this team is that just one player was nominated.

Willie Cauley-Stein is joined by four other finalists in Bobby Portis of Arkansas, Jahlil Okafor of Duke, Rakeem Christmas from Syracuse, and Frank Kaminsky from Wisconsin.  This list of five finalists was narrowed down and selected by a national committee comprised of top college basketball personnel.

This is a tremendous honor for Cauley-Stein, who is already having a tremendous basketball season.  He is already a semifinalist for the Naismith Trophy, a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, and a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy.  He has also played a major role in UK’s success and undefeated 31-0 record this season.

Cauley-Stein’s specialty is still clearly on the defensive end.  He leads the nation’s top-ranked field-goal percentage defense in steals (44) and is ranked second in blocked shots (49).  He is averaging 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game.

Cauley-Stein has made great strides on the offensive end as well.  The 7-footer is averaging 8.9 points per game and shooting 58.8% from the floor.  It seems that you can’t watch ESPN without seeing a Willie Cauley-Stein highlight dunk in the Top 10 plays of the day.

Earlier this season, Cauley-Stein became the first player in school history to collect 100 or more career steals and 200 or more career blocks. He is also one of just eight players in UK basketball history with 75 or more steals, 100 or more blocks, and 500 or more rebounds.

The winner of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award will be determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Hall of Fame’s selection committees. Fans can vote for the top position players from now through March 18 at

The winners of the inaugural awards will be awarded on April 10 at ESPN’s new “College Basketball Awards” from Club Nokia in Los Angeles. The awards show will be televised live on ESPN2 at 8 PM.

Next: Dakari Johnson is finding his way

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