DALLAS — WKU Hilltopper Basketball’s Charles Bassey has been named Conference USA Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, the league announced Tuesday.
Bassey, a 6-foot-11 junior center from Lagos, Nigeria, is the first Hilltopper to win a conference Player of the Year award since Orlando Mendez-Valdez in the Sun Belt Conference in 2008-09. He’s the 15th overall Player of the Year in program history.
Bassey joins Charlotte’s Eddie Basden (2005), Marquette’s Dwyane Wade (2003) and Cincinnati’s Kenyon Martin (2000) as players in C-USA history to win the league’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season.
He’s also one of five players in C-USA history – along with Martin, Basden, Memphis’ Joey Dorsey and UAB’s William Lee – to win Defensive Player of the Year multiple times.
Bassey won his first C-USA Defensive Player of the Year award in 2019, when he was also the league’s Freshman of the Year.
As of Monday, Bassey leads the nation in dunks and is ranked second in the country in double-doubles, third in blocks per game, fourth in rebounds per game and total rebounds, fifth in total blocks and eighth in field-goal percentage.
The junior is averaging 17.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per contest while shooting 61.1% from the field. He’s the only player in the nation since at least 2010 with four games in a season of at least 20 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.
Bassey has also produced his eye-popping numbers against top competition. WKU’s non-conference strength of schedule was ranked 43rd in the country by the NET on Monday.
In four games against West Virginia, Louisville, Alabama and Memphis, he averaged 19 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.8 blocks.
Bassey was named Conference USA Player of the Week seven times this year, breaking Kenyon Martin’s league record for most in a single season.
The award haul for Bassey is just the latest set of accolades for the standout center, who’s spent the entire season in the national spotlight.
On Saturday, Bassey was named to the Wooden Award National Ballot, which consists of 15 student-athletes who are candidates for the Wooden Award All American Team and Wooden Award Trophy as the most outstanding college basketball player in the United States.
In addition to the Wooden Award, Bassey made the watch lists for the Naismith Trophy and Lute Olson Award National Player of the Year.
He is also a semifinalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and a top-five finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year award.
COURTESY WESTERN KENTUCKY AND CONFERENCE USA