Badgers Happ named top-five finalist in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Awar - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badgers Happ named top-five finalist in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award

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MADISON, Wis. – He’s only a sophomore, but he’s already considered to be one of the best players in the country.

Ethan Happ of the No. 24 Wisconsin men’s basketball team was named to the final five for the 2017 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award, as announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday.

The annual honor is in its third year of recognizing the top centers in men’s college basketball. A committee comprised of top college basketball personnel narrowed the original watch list of 20 candidates down to 10 and now the final five.

Happ joins fellow teammate Frank Kaminsky as the only two players in program history to be named a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award. Kaminsky went on to win the award in 2015 when he became consensus National Player of the Year.

After a breakout freshman campaign garnered him Preseason All-Big Ten honors, Happ took his collegiate career a step further in his sophomore season and became a 2017 second-team All-American. In addition to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award final five, Happ is also still in the running for multiple National Player of the Year awards (Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy and Oscar Robertson Trophy).

Happ is a first-team All-Big Ten honoree this season and was named AP Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The Milan, Illinois, native was the nation's only player to lead his team in points (14.6 ppg), rebounds (8.6 rpg), assists (3.0 apg), blocks (1.6 bpg) and steals (2.3 spg) during conference play.

Over the last 20 seasons, Happ is just the fourth major conference player to lead his team in all five categories during conference play: Utah's Delon Wright (2014), St. John's D.J. Kennedy (2010) and Virginia Tech's Bryant Matthews (2003).

Happ is the only player in the NCAA averaging at least 14.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. In fact, over the last 20 years, no major conference player has reached those marks for an entire season.

The winner of the 2017 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award will be determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame’s selection committee. Fans are encouraged to visit www.HoophallAwards.com to cast their votes March 10-24.

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