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DURHAM, N.C. – Duke freshman Mark Williams has been selected to the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award watch list, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today.

Named after Class of 1995 Hall of Famer and three-time NCAA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the annual honor in its seventh year recognizes the top centers in men’s college basketball. A national committee of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 candidates.

A four-star prospect hailing from Virginia Beach, Va., Williams was the No. 30-ranked player and No. 5-ranked center in the incoming freshman class. The 7-foot presence in the paint played three seasons at Norfolk Academy before transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for his senior season. During the 2019 Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) circuit, he competed for Team Boo Williams and averaged 14.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 64 percent from the field. Williams was a 2020 McDonald’s All-American and was selected to participate in the Jordan Brand Classic prior to the event’s cancellation. His sister, Elizabeth, is a former Duke women’s basketball All-American now playing in the WNBA for the Atlanta Dream.

Williams is one of four freshmen nationally named to the Abdul-Jabbar Award watch list. His selection gives Duke five total players over the Hall of Fame’s five positional watch lists – Wendell Moore Jr. and Jalen Johnson (Julius Erving Award), Matthew Hurt (Karl Malone Award) and DJ Steward (Jerry West Award). No other team in the nation has more than four (Kentucky and Villanova).

In late January, the watch list of 20 players for the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award will be narrowed down to just 10. In late February, five finalists will be presented to Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winner of the award will be presented on Friday, April 9, 2021, along with the other four members of the Naismith Men’s Starting Five. Additional awards being presented include the Bob Cousy Point Guard Award, the Jerry West Shooting Guard Award, the Julius Erving Small Forward Award and the Karl Malone Power Forward Award, in addition to the Women’s Starting Five.

For more information on the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the latest updates, log onto and follow @hoophall and #KareemAward on Twitter and Instagram.

2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Candidates

Matt Haarms – BYU

Mark Williams – Duke

Kofi Cockburn – Illinois

Luka Garza – Iowa

Olivier Sarr – Kentucky

Ahsan Asadullah – Lipscomb

Cameron Krutwig – Loyola Chicago

Mousa Cisse – Memphis

Liam Robbins – Minnesota

Armando Bacot – North Carolina

Walker Kessler – North Carolina

Trevion Williams – Purdue

Grant Golden – Richmond

Evan Mobley – USC

Neemias Queta – Utah State

Jay Huff – Virginia

Derek Culver – West Virginia

Charles Bassey – Western Kentucky

Micah Potter – Wisconsin

Loudon Love – Wright State