What does Charles Bassey's injury mean for the Hilltoppers?

What was supposed to be a celebration of defeating an undefeated Arkansas team Saturday night turned to shock for Hilltopper Nation Monday afternoon when it was announced star sophomore Charles Bassey, an NBA talent, would be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season. After landing awkwardly on his left leg nearing the end or regulation (Video posted to our Twitter feed), a sold out Diddle Arena went silent as its star player stayed down. The Hilltoppers were able to erase a 5 point deficit and force overtime before walking away with a win, giving hope to the Hilltopper faithful that they can continue on with their season in hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2013 season. The question now is who will step into Bassey’s starting role as the Tops inch closer to conference play.

The old saying “you can’t teach size” comes to mind when talking about replacing the 6’11 Center. Averaging 15.3 ppg and 9.2 rpg Bassey was the focal point on offense and proved to be the only real rim protector on the roster. Matt Horton, 6’11, now stands as the lone player over 6’7 on the roster. Offseason transfers by Horton and Tolu Smith left the Tops with virtually no backups to the star big man if this situation were to happen, but luckily Horton ended up coming back to the Hill for his senior season where he will now be forced to provide valuable minutes either off the bench or via a starting role. He has averaged just 5 minutes-per-game this season and will see an instant spike in that number. Obviously we cannot expect him to step in a fill Bassey’s role, but the big man from Tuscaloosa, Alabama will need to be active on the boards and provide spacing for a guard-dominated offense, as well as handling opposing teams inside on defense. Freshman Isaiah Cozart will also see an increase in minutes much sooner than expected, as he is seen as more of a project for Stansbury and his coaching staff. In minimal appearances I have liked what I have seen from Cozart on both sides of the ball, showing a high motor and physicality. He will be invaluable as a rim protector for the Tops after blocking 716 shots in high school, a Kentucky state record. While I’m not sure how these two players would be used, they are all the height left on the bench. Carson Williams, who is putting together a nice season, will be relied on for rebounds and interior play even more in Bassey’s absence.

Even with Bassey on the court WKU was primarily a guard based offense. Last season they struggled to get the ball inside, opting for contested jumpers or penetration, and much of the same carried over to this year, so its not as if Bassey was touching the ball every play. What he did do was space the floor, as well as the defense, which allowed driving lanes and open shots as he absorbed most of the double teams. This proved valuable for the likes of Josh Anderson and Taveion Hollingsworth who are at their best when they can attack the rim. The key here is ball movement which will open up lanes as well as open shots for Jared Savage and Camron Justice.

With no true post presence the Hilltoppers will most likely revert to small-ball as it did at the end of the Arkansas game. This lineup consisted of Hollingsworth-Justice-Savage- Williams-Anderson. Anderson will probably slide into the center position despite only standing 6’6. After beginning this season on the bench Anderson is deserving of a starting role, proving most valuable getting to the rim and getting fouled as well as running fast breaks. The key to this is forcing turnovers like they did against Arkansas, shooting the gaps and converting on the offensive end. What I see to be the main problem with this lineup is the lack of a true point guard. Hollingsworth will be the focal point of the offense now, but has struggled throughout his career when he runs the offense. Barring Kenny Cooper becoming eligible Hollingsworth will play the point guard position with Jordan Rawls to back him up.

The best part of this injury is when it happened. WKU doesn’t play for almost 2 weeks before it faces Kentucky Wesleyan, a Division II program from Owensboro, Kentucky. This will provide an opportunity to test out each lineup variation before a tough stretch leading to conference play. Being a down year in the C-USA the Hilltoppers still look to be the favorite in conference play, but it will will need to be Coach Stansbury’s best job to date if they want to return to March Madness. All hope is not lost and collectively WKU will work to replace Bassey’s workload, which is not an easy task. It may take a few games, but the way this team fought in overtime against Arkansas proved to me they can compete with anyone. Go Tops!

SOURCE: Charles Bassey To Miss Remainder Of 2019-2020 Season | WKU Connection

Credit: Evan Brown/WKU Athletics

Late Sunday night a source close to the men’s basketball program confirmed to WKU Connection that Sophomore center Charles Bassey has sustained a season ending injury in Saturday nights match-up with Arkansas.

The actual specifics of the injury itself have not yet been publicized, but are likely to come out sometime within the week. (Likely Coach Stansbury’s press conference Monday afternoon).

Bassey was averaging 15.9 ppg and 9.6 rebounds per game entering Saturday night.

Several NBA Draft evaluation sites had Charles listed as a top 10 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

Western Kentucky is off this week for finals and will not play in again until an exhibition match with Kentucky Wesleyan on Tuesday December 14th.

#PlayFor23

Western Kentucky Falls To Wright State 74-76 | WKU Connection

Steve Roberts/WKU Athletics

What the hell did I just watch?

Western Kentucky falls to a Wright State squad who was missing one of their main pieces.

Some serious questions need to be answered about this team and where this program is headed.

Why the hell does Rick Stansbury not call a timeout with 5 seconds left down 2?

This is unacceptable coaching.

Why do we play a 2-3 zone?

Why do we not run the offense through Charles Bassey?

Why does Jordan Rawls not get more playing time?

All of these need to be answered if this team wants to even think about sniffing the NCAA tournament.

See you all in Diddle Saturday.

@WKUConnect

Western Kentucky Defeats Fordham 69-64 | WKU Connection

Steve Roberts/WKU Athletics

Western Kentucky survives a late rally by Fordham to improve to 6-1 on the season heading into a matchup with instate rival Louisville on Friday in Nashville.

WKU finishes in 4th place at the Paradise Jam. They will travel back to Bowling Green tomorrow and prepare for #2 ranked Louisville.

Quick Stats

  • Charles Bassey- 24pts 12 rbs (10/10 FT)
  • Cam Justice- 23pts
  • Jared Savage- 9pts, 6 rbs, 2 ast

Senior Cam Justice with a huge first half shooting 4-4 from the 3pt line and ended the game shooting 6-8 from deep.

With this afternoons win we can now fully focus on beating Louisville Friday.

Can it be Friday already? See you in Nashville!

@WKUConnect

WKU Basketball Defeats Illinois State 83-69 | WKU Connection

WKU Athletics/WKU Basketball

After a sloppy first half start from the Hilltoppers they come from behind to beat Illinois State 83-69 in St. Thomas.

A great bounce back win for WKU after last nights loss to Bowling Green. Western Kentucky was able to respond with a win against a solid Illinois State squad who played Cincinnati down to the wire last night.

Freshmen guard Jordan Rawls racked up 14 points on the night.

Cam Justice adds 19 points in a bounce back game from Friday which saw him go 1-12 from the field.

Jared Savage totaled 16 points in which he surpassed 1,000 career points.

This win was #1800 all time for WKU Basketball.

Hilltoppers move to 5-1 on the season and will play Fordham Monday at 2:15 PM.

@WKUConnect

WKU Basketball Picked To Win CUSA (and it wasn’t even close) | WKU Connection

Photo: WKU Athletics/WKU Basketball

Thursday afternoon the CUSA league office released preseason votes on CUSA Champion and All-Conference Team.

For the second year in a row Western Kentucky was picked to win Conference USA. A conference championship would be the programs first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2013.

I agree.

Bassey and Hollingsworth named preseason All-Conference

WKU is one of 2 schools to have 2 players named preseason All-Conference. Congraualtions to Charles and Taveion!

WKU Pro Day | WKU Connection

Image via @cb_one23

Today the WKU basketball team will welcome in scouts from the different NBA teams to Diddle Arena to get the first look at this year team. They will be doing a lot of different measurements along with playing a little pick up. This event is not open to the public nor will it be on TV.

WKU had more than 350 scouts over last season watch a game played by WKU. They saw upwards of 40 scouts at once come watch the team play.

Most eyes will be on returning sophomore Charles Bassey. He has been projected as a first round pick in the 2020 draft by some different sites.