UC Irvine 7-foot-6 junior center Mamadou Ndiaye is one of 20 players named to the 2016 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Watch List, as announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Friday.
The award, which is named after Hall-of-Famer and three-time NCAA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, recognizes the top centers in men’s college basketball. A national committee of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list members.
The watch list will be narrowed to 10 players by mid-February. In March, five finalists will be presented to Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winner of the award will be announced at the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show presented by Wendy’s from Club Nokia in Los Angeles April 8.
Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky was the award’s inaugural winner last year.
Ndiaye has been named the Big West Conference preseason Player of the Year by several publications.
He averaged 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, when he helped lead UCI to its first appearance in the NCAA Division I Tournament. Ndiaye had 12 points and five rebounds in the Anteaters’ 57-55 loss to three-time national champion Louisville in the NCAA Second Round.
Ndiaye has 131 blocked shots in two seasons at UCI with a field-goal percentage of .678.
UCI opens its 2015-16 schedule Nov. 7, hosting Vanguard in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. The ‘Eaters begin their regular-season schedule against UC San Diego Nov. 13, also at 7 p.m. in the Bren Events Center.
— From staff reports