Cauley-Stein, a 7-foot junior, is averaging 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the top-ranked Wildcats (25-0) despite playing only 25.5 minutes per game on UK's deep roster. Per 40 minutes played, he is averaging 14.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 2.3 steals per game.
Earlier this season, Cauley-Stein became the first player in Kentucky's storied basketball history to record more than 200 blocks and 100 steals in a career. He's also one of just eight players in program history to post more than 500 rebounds, 100 blocks and 75 steals.
Three other SEC players, including Arkansas' Bobby Portis, LSU's Jarell Martin and Vanderbilt's Damian Jones, are among the 15 finalists. The list will be pared down to five players in early March. The winner will be announced April 10 on ESPN2 in a ceremony hosted by Abdul-Jabbar, a three-time NCAA champion during his time at UCLA.
Cauley-Stein and teammate Karl-Anthony Towns were also named to the 30-player Naismith Trophy midseason watch list last week.
2015 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Candidates:
Bobby Portis, University of Arkansas
Alan Williams, University of California, Santa Barbara
Josh Scott, University of Colorado
Jahlil Okafor, Duke University
Joshua Smith, Georgetown University
Willie Cauley-Stein, University of Kentucky
Jarell Martin, Louisiana State University
Kennedy Meeks, University of North Carolina
Brad Waldow, Saint Mary’s College
Stefan Nastic, Stanford University
Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse University
Jakob Poeltl, University of Utah
Damian Jones, Vanderbilt University
Daniel Ochefu, Villanova University
Frank Kaminsky, University of Wisconsin