Kessler Named to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Watch List

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PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY SHANNA LOCKWOOD / AU ATHLETICS

Contributed by AU Athletics

Auburn newcomer Walker Kessler was one of 20 players selected to be part of the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Watch List, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday.

 Named after Class of 1995 Hall of Famer and three-time NCAA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the annual honor recognizes the top centers in men’s college basketball as determined by a national committee of top college basketball personnel.

 “Rounding out the Men’s Starting Five watch list is the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award,” said John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is one of the most accomplished and decorated athletes of all time, so it is truly fitting to have his name associated with such a prestigious award. As a strong advocate for education and character, he brings a significant and meaningful perspective when evaluating talent and we truly cherish his involvement.”

 Kessler, one of four SEC centers to make the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Watch List, transferred to Auburn from North Carolina where he averaged 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.9 block last year as a freshman. He scored in double figures five times with a season-high 20 points at home against Florida State. He shot 57.8% from the floor.

 Coming out of high school, Kessler was the 2020 Gatorade High School Player of the Year and was also named Mr. Basketball in the state of Georgia. He averaged 17.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.2 blocks per game as a senior and led Woodward Academy to the first boys’ basketball state title in the school’s 120-year history.

 Kessler is the second Auburn player to be selected to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Watch List, now in its eighth year. Former Tiger Austin Wiley made the list in 2017 and 2018.

 The watch list of 20 players for the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award will be narrowed to 10 in late January and then to just five in late February. In March, the five finalists will be presented to Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee where a winner will be selected. College basketball fans are encouraged to participate in Fan Voting presented by Dell Technologies in each of the three rounds.

 Previous winners of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award include two-time winner Luka Garza, Iowa (2021, 2020); Ethan Happ, Wisconsin (2019); Angel Delgado, Seton Hall (2018); Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga (2017); Jakob Poeltl, Utah (2016); and Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin (2015).

 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Watch List:

Walker Kessler, Auburn

Nick Muszyinski, Belmont

Mark Williams, Duke

Colin Castleton, Florida

Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Kofi Cockburn, Illinois

David McCormack, Kansas

Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky

Ahsan Asadullah, Lipscomb

Qudus Wahab, Maryland

Jalen Duren, Memphis

Hunter Dickinson, Michigan

Armando Bacot, North Carolina

Moussa Cisse, Oklahoma State

Nate Watson, Providence

Zach Edey, Purdue

Osun Osunniyi, St. Bonaventure

Myles Johnson, UCLA

Fardaws Aimaq, Utah Valley

Liam Robbins, Vanderbilt

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