WKU Men’s Basketball: Bassey named Conference USA Freshman, Defensive Player of the Year

DALLAS  WKU center Charles Bassey is just the second player in Conference USA history to win both the league’s Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards, the conference announced Tuesday.

Bassey joins Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside in 2010 as the only other C-USA player to ever win both awards in the same season.

The two prestigious honors continue a big week for the 6-foot-11, 245-pound native of Lagos, Nigeria.

On Monday, he was named to the All-Conference USA First Team, All-Freshman Team and All-Defensive Team. On Friday, Bassey was named 1 of 5 national finalists – including the only freshman – for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.

Bassey is the first Hilltopper to win an individual conference award since Chris Harrison-Docks was named Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year in 2013-14. He’s the first Hilltopper to be named a conference’s Defensive Player of the Year since Mike Wells won it for the second straight year in the Sun Belt in 2003-04.

Bassey is averaging 15 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks for the Hilltoppers while shooting 62.9 percent from the field.

He leads Conference USA in double-doubles (15) and ranks 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.

The 18-year-old – one of the top-10 youngest players in the country – is the only player in the nation this season with at least 308 rebounds, 74 blocks and 27 steals.

He could become just the second freshmen since 1992 – along with Greg Oden – to average at least 15 points, nine rebounds and two blocks while shooting at least 60 percent overall.

The center has been named C-USA Freshman of the Week 10 times, tying the league record, and has more blocks by himself this season than 57 Division I teams.

He’s also played his best basketball against top competition, averaging 17.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.4 steals in five games against Wisconsin’s Happ, Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford, UCF’s Tacko Fall, West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate and Washington’s Noah Dickerson.

The second-seeded Hilltoppers (18-13) head this week to the Conference USA Basketball Championship in Frisco, Texas, where they’ll face either FIU or North Texas in the quarterfinals at 8:30 p.m. CT Thursday.

Conference USA Superlative Awards

Freshman of the Year – Charles Bassey, WKU

Defensive Player of the Year – Charles Bassey, WKU

Newcomer of the Year – Antonio Green, Middle Tennessee

Co-Sixth Players of the Year – LaDavius Draine, Southern Miss / Xavian Stapleton, Florida Atlantic