Bassey Named 2021 Naismith Defensive POY Semifinalist

ATLANTA — WKU Hilltopper Basketball center Charles Bassey has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2021 Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday.

Bassey is one of two players from outside the Power Five among the semifinalists for the award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive player.

The 6-foot-11, 235-pound native of Lagos, Nigeria, has established himself as one of the country’s elite defensive players.

As of Wednesday, Bassey ranks third nationally in both rebounds per game (11.7) and blocks per game (3.2). He is the only player in the nation to even rank in the top 30 in both categories.

He’s also ranked fourth nationally in double-doubles despite the Hilltoppers playing just two games in the last five weeks.

Bassey is averaging 18 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game while shooting 61% from the field. The only players in the nation to finish a season with those averages since at least 1992 were Tim Duncan, Chris Kaman and Carlos Rogers.

The All-American candidate 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.

Bassey has also produced his nation-leading defensive numbers against top competition.

In four games against West Virginia, Louisville, Alabama and Memphis, he averaged 19 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.8 blocks.

Bassey has also been named to the late season watch list for the John Wooden Award for National Player of the Year, as well as the watch lists for the Naismith Trophy and Lute Olson Award player of the year honors. He’s a finalist for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year.

Bassey has been named Conference USA Player of the Week six times this year, tying former Cincinnati star and longtime NBA pro Kenyon Martin for the league record for most in a single season.