Neemias Queta named a finalist for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Naismith Defensive Player of the Year awards

Utah State's Neemias Queta (23) plays against UNLV in an NCAA college basketball game Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State junior center Neemias Queta has been named one of 10 finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given annually to the nation’s top center in NCAA Division I basketball, as announced by Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday.

Queta is also one of just 15 players in the nation to appear on the watch list for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, as announced by the organization on Thursday.

The other 10 finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award include Iowa’s Luke Garza, Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson, Minnesota’s Liam Robbins, Providence’s Nate Watson, Purdue’s Trevion Williams, USC’s Evan Mobley, West Virginia’s Derek Culver and Western Kentucky’s Charles Bassey.

Queta is second among that group with 2.94 blocks per game, trailing only Bassey with 3.44 per contest. Overall, Queta ranks second in the nation with 53 total blocks this season, second only to Bassey with a nation’s-best 55. When looking at advanced analytics, Queta leads the country with a 77.56 defensive rating, meaning when Queta is on the court teams are only scoring 0.8 points per possession. Queta is eighth in the nation in block percentage, turning away 13.7 percent of opponent’s attempts.

At one point this season, Queta led the Aggies in every major statistical category and still leads Utah State in points per game (12.4), rebounds per game (9.3), steals per game (1.2), blocks per game (2.9) and ranks second with 3.0 assists per outing. Queta is the only player among the top-10 finalists of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award with more than 50 assists and 50 blocks this season.

Queta is joined on the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year watch list by Bassey and Mobley, along with Baylor guards Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and Mark Vital, Pitt forward Justin Champagnie, Virginia guard Kihei Clark, Kansas guard Marcus Garrett, Richmond guard Jacob Gilyard, Alabama wing Herb Jones, Coastal Carolina guard DeVante’ Jones, Tennessee wing Yves Pons, Clemson forward Aamir Simms and Michigan guard Franz Wagner.

Fans are encouraged to go online and cast their vote for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award by visiting Fans can vote once per day and the top five players from the fan vote will each get an additional vote to advance to the final five, which will be announced in late February. The winner of the award will be announced on April 9.

Utah State now has almost a week off before continuing Mountain West play at Fresno State on Thursday, Feb. 4, and Saturday, Feb. 6. The game on Thursday night can be seen on Stadium ( and simulcast locally on KJZZ at 7 p.m. (MT). The game on Saturday night will be televised on Fox Sports 1 (Xfinity Ch. 265/HD691, DirecTV Ch. 219, DISH Ch. 150) and tip at 8 p.m. (MT).

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