Views: Bassey continues to bulk resume for NBA

WKU center Charles Bassey (23) goes down after sustaining a leg injury in the second half. The Hilltoppers defeated the Razorbacks 86 – 79 in Diddle Arena on Saturday, December 7, 2019.

Nick Kieser

Everyone likes a good comeback story. Junior Charles Bassey is no exception. 

Last season, 10 games into his second year on the Hill, Bassey suffered a broken tibia against Arkansas on Dec. 7, 2019. Ever since then there was an uncertainty as to how the big man would perform when he returned. 

Associate head coach Phil Cunningham said after the MTSU series ended that Bassey is the core of WKU’s defense. 

Bassey’s numbers alone this season speak for how he handled himself getting back into game shape. On Sunday, Bassey picked up his 11th double-double in 17 games while being one of — if not the most — dominant player the Hilltoppers have this season. 

“None of us knew 100% when he’d be back from his injury,” head coach Rick Stansbury said. “I think the biggest change is he sat watching for a year. Where his game has changed more than anything is he’s playing at another level energy wise.”

“Forget Charles [Bassey] has gotten stronger, forget he’s more experienced mentally, but you take all of those things and it goes towards his energy level,” Stansbury continued.

On the road over the weekend, I kept an eye on Bassey’s energy level. I saw what I believe is raw, unmatched talent. Each time he takes the court against an opponent, it’s like a switch is flipped on and no one can turn him off. 

“Right now we’re just feeding off of his energy,” senior Josh Anderson said. “Game in and game out he’s given us 110%. I feel like all of us feed off his energy.” 

As the first game began against MTSU, Bassey rose out of the tunnel ahead of the pack of players. As the ball went up for tipoff, he carried that swagger and swatted the ball back to freshman Dayvion McKnight. 

The dominant mantra of this 6-foot-11 NBA prospect is invaluable. As he continues to rise to prominence, it’s evident if he continues to do well we will see him in the pros this fall. 

It’s one thing to see Bassey in action on TV, but witnessing him make numerous big plays each game in person gets you amped for where his God-given talent could take him. 

{{tncms-inline account=”CBS Sports Network” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Who else but Charles Bassey? <a href="https://twitter.com/WKUBasketball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WKUBasketball</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/ConferenceUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ConferenceUSA</a> <a href="https://t.co/8dLCNG8gtO">pic.twitter.com/8dLCNG8gtO</a></p>— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) <a href="https://twitter.com/CBSSportsNet/status/1353433225503367173?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 24, 2021</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/CBSSportsNet/status/1353433225503367173″ type=”twitter”}}

During the first game in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Bassey’s first big play of the game came from saving a ball going out of bounds. He utilized his reach and tossed the ball back to senior Taveion Hollingsworth. 

At the end of the possession, Bassey had a put back seamlessly jumping in one motion dropping the ball in the hoop. 

The junior swatted his 50th block in the opening half about nine minutes into playing the Blue Raiders. The block led to redshirt junior Luke Frampton sinking a triple, building off the big defensive play. 

“He makes the game a lot easier, let’s be honest,” redshirt senior Kenny Cooper said. “His presence inside, offensively and defensively. He’s blocking shots, alternating shots, he’s a constant force inside if you feed him on the block. If you take a shot, we’re confident he’ll get the rebound.”

The Lipscomb transfer continued to say that Bassey has a dynamic approach to his game, and the way he plays cannot be matched in Conference USA. 

Cooper is right. On Sunday, Bassey reclaimed his lead for most blocks in the nation with 55 and second in the nation with 11 double-doubles. He’s also leading the nation with 195 total rebounds. 

So, where does Bassey end up when it comes to this offseason? The 2021 NBA draft is where, according to NBA Draft.Net, Bassey is predicted to go 12th overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Additionally, Bassey is also ranked No. 20 out of 60 listed college basketball players on USA Today’s For The Win article. I’ve also heard rumblings on Twitter that he could be a lottery pick if the right team needs him. 

Right now, WKU isn’t done squeezing his college experience out of him yet. Regardless of how the Hilltoppers finish this season, Bassey isn’t so likely to stay, but why would you if you had the talent to go pro? 

Patience is a virtue, but after Bassey’s rehabilitation process and seeing him play the way he has this year, this big man is going to be under the lights of an NBA arena this fall. 

Sports Editor Nick Kieser can be reached at [email protected] Follow Nick on Twitter at @KieserNick.