Angel Delgado will soon have to find room for another trophy.
During ESPN’s College Basketball Awards, Delgado was recognized as the best center in college basketball as he was awarded the 2018 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award on April 6.
The award was given to Delgado in Los Angeles, Calif. by the legendary big man who bears the award’s name.
“I’m really happy that I’m meeting a great player like that in Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar), it’s great,” Delgado said prior to Friday’s ceremony. “I watched a lot of old-school basketball, so meeting one of the greatest players of all time, it’s just a blessing.”
Delgado is the fourth recipient of the award, with previous winners including Przemek Karnowski of Gonzaga, Jakob Poeltl of Utah and Frank Kaminsky of the University of Wisconsin.
While Delgado was also nominated for the award as a junior, his senior season pushed him to be one of five finalists. The four other players in contention for the 2018 award were Isaac Haas (Purdue), Jock Landale (Saint Mary’s), Thomas Welsh (UCLA) and Brandon McCoy (UNLV).
“It’s really exciting. I’m really happy for the award,” Delgado said. “I’m really happy and proud, my family is proud, everybody is proud, my coaches, my teammates. It’s something that I never expected to win. I worked hard for it.”
In his senior season, Delgado averaged 13.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, capped off by a dominating 24-point, 23-rebound game against Kansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 17.
While the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award is decided by fan votes, one accolade Delgado did not receive this season was a spot on the All-Big East First Team, which is decided by Big East coaches. Delgado holds no grudges to the snub, instead focusing on his work and showing gratitude for the recognition he has received.
“It’s Big East coaches, so if they didn’t think I was first-team all-Big East, it’s okay for me; I really respect the decision,” Delgado said. “I’m just working hard and getting better. It’s a coach’s decision, I’m proud of myself, I know what I did. I know that I did good, it’s their decision, it is what it is, I’m just happy to win a big-time award that I’ve always wanted.”
After nearly leaving Seton Hall following his junior season to enter the NBA Draft, Delgado has seen his dedication pay off.
“It was all worth it. I would not change these four years for nothing,” Delgado said. “I would not change these guys and four years for nothing. I love my guys, I love my coaches, coach is really like my father. It’s been a long ride, but I had really good fun out here.”
When it comes to post-college aspirations, Delgado said he expects fans to learn of his agent sometime next week, around the time of his participation in the Portsmouth Invitational from April 11-14 alongside Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez.
While Delgado looks to the future in his professional career, he has also looked back at his accomplishments in South Orange. After setting the Big East rebounding record this season and now recognized as the best center in the country, Delgado has envisioned his jersey to one day be retired in the rafters of Prudential Center and Walsh Gym.
“It would be great if they retire my number,” Delgado said. “If they decide to retire my number, it’s going to be great. I’m definitely going to start telling coach (Kevin Willard) that he better tell the school to do that. Stuff like that, I never expected it and I worked hard for it, I think I deserve it and the school knows I deserve it.”
For now, Delgado will focus on his professional aspirations and finding room for his newest trophy.
“It’s one of the best trophies I’ve ever had in my whole career,” Delgado said. “I’m definitely going to make a whole room about it, pictures [and] everything. It’s going to be great seeing this type of stuff in my house or in my apartment. It’s going to be great, I’m really proud of myself.”
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.