After a season in which the top two NBA MVP vote-getters were centers, Western Kentucky’s Charles Bassey will enter the league as one of several fascinating centers in this year’s draft class. The dynamic offensive player was a top-10 national recruit who spent three years with the Hilltoppers and had his best season in 2020-21, despite coming back from season-ending knee injury just 10 games into his sophomore year. Bassey averaged 17.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game and has the skill set to turn into one of the league’s better rim-running centers.
Weight: 230 pounds
Low Post Scoring and a pick-and roll-threat
Bassey was one of the most dominant finishers in college basketball. He made 68.1 percent of non-post-up shots in the paint, which was sixth-best nationally. He is a natural rim-runner and is great out of the pick-and-roll. Lobs to Bassey were a staple of the Hilltoppers’ offense. There were times when WKU guards threw the ball up to the big man when he wasn’t in position, but Bassey has shown the ability to catch and finish anyway. He is an efficient and effective roller who presents great timing out of ball screens. He’s also a good standing dunker and establishes position early. Bassey has an above-average mid-range jump shot, so he is a threat in the pick-and-pop as well. He has fundamentally sound feet in the post and has shown he can score on the low block.
Bassey has shown he can be dominant on defense, averaging 3.1 blocks per game last season and earning a spot on the Conference USA All-Defensive Team. Bassey recorded seven blocks in a marquee non-conference win against Memphis. He is extremely athletic and gets off the ground easily. His athleticism gives him the ability to recover when the offensive player gains a step. He also has excellent timing rotating when he is the weak-side help.
Bassey does not have quick enough feet to be able to guard the perimeter at the next level. This is an area that is a detriment for a lot of centers coming into the league. Teams will force Bassey to play a drop coverage when guards and wings switch onto him. He was beaten off of drives often, but was able to rely on his athleticism and size to easily recover. He won’t be able to rely on that at the next level.
Passing out of the post and shooting
While Bassey is a great scorer out of the post, he is a below-average passer. Bassey averaged only 2.3 turnovers per game, but his passing skills are a work in progress. Last season, Bassey showed he was willing to shoot the three. He shot 30.5 percent from three and made 1.3 three-pointers per game. Bassey’s shooting fundamentals are solid, but it takes him a while to get his shot off. He needs to be more consistent with his shot, which would make him a scary offensive weapon and help him fit in the modern NBA.
High-end player comparison
Bryant was an un-drafted free agent who has turned into a reliable starter for the Washington Wizards. Bassey offers a lot of complements to Bryant’s game. He is a reliable scorer in the post, effective in the pick-and-roll, and has the potential to shoot from three. Bassey has more of an athletic foundation to become a better defender than Bryant. With the right fit (maybe the Raptors or Spurs), I can see Bassey finding a spot as an inside scorer and role player.
I can see teams reaching on Bassey for his high potential as an offensive weapon. He is projected to be picked in the middle of the second round in most mock drafts. He has tons of upside, his skill set is still raw, and has room to grow. His limitations on the perimeter may scare some teams away.