Hilltoppers add extra home game, Bassey named to Center of the Year Award watch list

Charles Bassey (23) embraces head coach Rick Stansbury after defeating 15th-ranked Wisconsin in Diddle Arena Dec. 29 in Bowling Green.

Elliott Wells

The WKU men’s basketball team made two significant announcements this week, as the program revealed the addition of another home game to its 2019-20 regular season schedule on Thursday and disclosed another preseason watch list honor for sophomore center Charles Bassey on Friday.

WKU to meet Campbellsville in Diddle Arena

As part of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, the Hilltoppers will play an additional home game during their upcoming season. In-state opponent Campbellsville is now slated to make a visit to Diddle Arena on Nov. 18 as a campus-site game of the Paradise Jam event, the team announced Thursday.

Tipoff for WKU’s game against the Tigers is set for 7 p.m.

The addition of a new home game brings the total of WKU men’s basketball games in Diddle Arena this season to 16, and fans will now have the chance to watch the 2019-20 Hilltoppers play three of their first four regular season games inside the friendly confines.

WKU has played Campbellsville frequently as an exhibition opponent, but the two teams have met in the regular season just five times, with WKU winning all five of the previous regular season matchups.

The Hilltoppers’ most recent regular season game against the Tigers came on Nov. 14, 2015, when WKU outlasted Campbellsville 77-57 in Diddle Arena and increased its lead in the all-time series to 5-0. 

Head coach Rick Stansbury will be forced to coach against his alma mater, as Stansbury was a four-year letterman at Campbellsville from 1977-1981 and began his coaching career as a student assistant in 1982. 

He also received Campbellsville’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999 and was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.

Campbellsville native Phil Cunningham is entering his first season as WKU associate head coach, but he played for and coached with Campbellsville under his father and longtime head coach Lou Cunningham.

Following WKU’s new home game against Campbellsville, the Hilltoppers will travel to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to play in the 2019 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam on Nov. 22-25.

Bassey one of 20 centers honored by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award committee

After being a top-five finalist for the 2019 Kareem-Abdul Jabbar Center of the Year Award, sophomore center Charles Bassey was named to the watch list for the 2020 Kareem-Abdul Jabbar Center of the Year Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday.

The 6-foot-11, 230-pound center is among 20 players from across the country to be named to the watch list, which is determined by a national committee comprised of top college basketball personnel.

“The final Men’s Starting Five watch list we are revealing is that of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award,” Basketball Hall of Fame President and CEO John L. Doleva said in a press release. “Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is unparalleled when it comes to his accomplishments at both the collegiate and professional level. As an advocate for education and character, he brings an important perspective when evaluating talent and we greatly value his input.”

Bassey averaged 14.6 points, 10 rebounds and 2.4 blocks while shooting 62.7% from the field as a freshman in 2018-19.

The Lagos, Nigeria, native led Conference USA a season ago in double-doubles at 17 and ranked in the top 30 nationally in double-doubles, field-goal percentage, blocks per game, total blocks, rebounds per game, defensive rebounds per game and total rebounds as one of the youngest players in the country.

Last season, Bassey also joined current NBA star Anthony Davis as the only two freshmen since 1992 to average at least 14 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks while shooting at least 60%.

Bassey’s strong performance throughout his freshman campaign was noticed across the country, as Bassey was named a Freshman All-American and became just the second player to ever win the C-USA Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.

The freshman phenom was named to the All-C-USA First Team, All-Freshman Team and All-Defensive Team in 2018-19, and he was recently named to the 2019-20 Preseason All-C-USA Team.

Previously, fans weren’t able to vote on the award. But for the 2020 award, fans can vote for their favorite center in each of the three rounds at the following link.

The watch list for the award will be trimmed to 10 players by mid-February. The list will then be cut to five finalists who will be presented to Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee in March. 

The winner of the 2020 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award will be presented at The College Basketball Awards in Los Angeles on Friday, April 10, 2020, along with the other four members of the Men’s Starting Five.

Reporter Elliott Wells can be reached at [email protected] Follow Elliott on Twitter at @ewells5.