It’s unclear if Chet Holmgren will play a true center role at Gonzaga this season, but the highly touted freshman was named to the preseason watch list for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, which recognizes college basketball’s top center.
With Holmgren’s selection, Gonzaga was able to place one player on four of the five preseason positional watch lists, only missing out on the Julius Erving Award watch list for the nation’s top small forward.
Earlier in the week, forward Drew Timme (Karl Malone Award), point guard Andrew Nembhard (Bob Cousy Award) and shooting guard Hunter Sallis (Jerry West Award) were each named to preseason watch lists.
Along with Memphis’ Jalen Duren, Holmgren is one of just two freshmen to make the preseason Abdul-Jabbar watch list. The 7-footer is listed as a center on Gonzaga’s roster, but many expect with his ball-handling and perimeter shooting, he’ll spend a majority of his time outside the paint while Timme plays with his back to the basket.
A consensus five-star recruit who became the top signee in Gonzaga history when he inked his letter of intent in the spring, Holmgren was part of four state championships during his time at Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Academy. He was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year, Naismith Prep Player of the Year, Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year, Sports Illustrated All-American Player of the Year, MaxPreps National Player of the Year, and a McDonald’s All-American.
During his senior season, Holmgren averaged 21 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, contributing 4.7 blocks and 4.5 assists while shooting 80% from the field. He finished his Minnehaha career with 1,567 points, 964 rebounds and 456 blocked shots while leading the school to a 128-15.
Holmgren has a chance to become the second Gonzaga player to win the Abdul-Jabbar Award after Przemek Karnowski claimed it in 2017 while helping the Bulldogs reach their first national championship game.
Other players named to the watch list are Auburn’s Walker Kessler, Belmont’s Nick Muszyinski, Duke’s Mark Williams, Florida’s Colin Castleton, Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, Kansas’ David McCormack, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, Lipscomb’s Ahsan Asadullah, Maryland’s Qudus Wahab, Memphis’ Duren, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson, North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, Oklahoma State’s Moussa Cisse, Providence’s Nate Watson, Purdue’s Zach Edey, St. Bonaventure’s Osun Ossunniyi, UCLA’s Myles Johnson, Utah Valley’s Fardaws Aimaq and Vanderbilt’s Liam Robbins.
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