FAYETTEVILLE – The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today that Arkansas sophomore Daniel Gafford is one of 10 candidates for the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.
Named after Hall of Famer (1995) 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 21 candidates in October, which has now been narrowed to just 10.
Also making the top 10 list are 2018-19 Razorback opponents Nico Carvacho (Colorado State) and Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky).
Gafford has lived up the preseason billing that saw him land on four player of the year watch lists and earn consensus preseason first team All-SEC honors. The El Dorado native was additionally named toThe Sporting News Midseason All-American team, a 15-player squad with Gafford and Tennessee’s Grant Williams being the only representatives from the SEC.
Gafford ranks fifth in the NCAA in field goal percentage (.667) and is the only player in the SEC to rank among the top 10 in field goal percentage (1st; .667), scoring (5th, 16.9 avg.), rebounding (2nd; 8.9 avg.), blocked shots (6th, 2.0 avg.), offensive rebounds (5th; 2.8 avg.) and defensive rebounds (2nd; 6.14 avg.).
In 57 career games, Gafford has 120 career blocked shots, which ranks seventh on the Razorbacks’ all-time list. He has blocked at least one shot in 18 of 22 games this season, including seven games with three or more. On the other end, Gafford ranks among the nation’s leaders with 59 dunks. In fact, of his 313 career field goals made, 43 percent (134) have been dunks.
Gafford’s 2018-19 Highlights include:
• a double-double (20 pts and then career-high 12 rebs) in the season opener versus Texas.
• being named SEC Player of the Week as he scored a then career-high 27 points with 12 rebounds versus Indiana.
• going 8-of-8 from the field versus Montana State and 7-of-7 at Texas Tech.
• a double-double (23 and 12) versus FIU.
• grabbing a career-high 14 rebounds, while scoring 13 points, versus UTSA.
• three straight games with double-doubles (Texas State, Austin Peay and Texas A&M) while adding 12 rebounds in a fourth straight game versus Florida.
• scoring a career-high 32 points versus LSU and later scoring 23 points with eight rebounds in an upset win at #19 LSU.
• a double-double (13 and 10) versus Missouri in a game he was not whistled for a foul.
• scoring 28 points while making a career-high 10 free throws (12 attempts) versus Vanderbilt.
• scoring double-digits in 20 of 22 games, including seven games with 20-plus points.
• getting double-digit defensive rebounds four times – Texas (10), UTSA (12), Florida (10) and Ole Miss (10).
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).
For more information and the latest updates on the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, log ontowww.hoophallawards.com and follow @hoophall and #KareemAward on Twitter and Instagram.
2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Candidates
Daniel Gafford Arkansas
Nick Perkins Buffalo
Nico Carvacho Colorado State
Jessie Govan Georgetown
Bruno Fernando Maryland
Nick Ward Michigan State
Moses Brown UCLA
Charles Bassey Western Kentucky
Nathan Knight William & Mary
Ethan Happ Wisconsin
For more information on Arkansas Men’s Basketball, follow @RazorbackMBB on Twitter.