Bassey Named to Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year Watch List

(Middle) Freshman Dayvion McKnight (20) attempting to defend MTSU’s junior Dontrell Shuler (33). WKU junior big man Charles Bassey (23) reaches for the block against the Blue Raider guard on Jan. 24, 2021. 

Kaden Gaylord

The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday that WKU Basketball center Charles Bassey has been named one of 15 members of the watch list for the 2021 Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year. 

Bassey is one of four players that isn’t on a Power Five team that’s on the watch list, given annually to the nation’s top defensive player.

As of Wednesday, Bassey leads the nation in total blocks, rebounds and double-doubles. He also ranked second in blocks per game and defensive rebounds per game, as well as third in total rebounds per game.

The junior is averaging 17.8 points, 12.2 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game. He’s one of just two players in the country with multiple games this season of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, and the only player with three such games.

Bassey is the only player in the nation since at least 2010 with three games in a season of at least 20 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.

WKU’s non-conference strength of schedule was ranked 16th in the country by the NET on Wednesday.

In four games against West Virginia, Louisville, Alabama and Memphis, the All-American candidate averaged 19 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.8 blocks. 

Bassey has also been named to the National Player of the Year midseason watch lists for the John Wooden Award and Lute Olson Award, as well as the preseason watch lists for the Naismith Trophy and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.

He’s been named Conference USA Player of the Week six out of nine times,, tying former Cincinnati star and longtime NBA veteran Kenyon Martin for the league record for most in a single season. 

Men’s basketball beat reporter Kaden Gaylord can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Kaden on Twitter at @_KLG3.