Western Kentucky men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury had said throughout summer that Charles Bassey was “doing really well” in his recovery from an injury in December that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

The Hilltoppers’ star center is now back.

Bassey was cleared and back on the court for full-contact activities Thursday, the WKU Hilltopper Basketball Twitter account announced in a tweet that included four photos – one of which involved him dunking with guards Jordan Rawls and Kenny Cooper watching from close to the basket.

The 6-foot-9 rising junior from Lagos, Nigeria, suffered a tibial plateau fracture in the second half of the 86-79 win over Arkansas on Dec. 7 at E.A. Diddle Arena and underwent season-ending surgery Dec. 10 in Houston. The procedure was conducted by physicians for the NFL’s Houston Texans and the NBA’s Houston Rockets. It was the same physicians who performed a similar surgery on Texans star defensive end JJ Watt when he suffered the same injury in 2017.

Following the procedure, the WKU men’s basketball Twitter account updated fans on Bassey’s status, saying the surgery was “very positive and exceeded expectations.” It also said the bone was successfully repaired and Bassey was expected to make a full recovery within the next nine months.

Bassey had continued his rehab work with associate athletic trainer John Erwin after the team went separate ways following the cancellation of the Conference USA Tournament and the NCAA Tournament in March, according to Stansbury.

Bassey was cleared for noncontact rehab court activities at the beginning of June and had been taking part in team workouts when it returned to campus, which were limited to groups of four and did not involve contact activities at that point.

The WKU coach was impressed with the way Bassey moved throughout the summer, saying “he’s sprinting really well,” but added “he’s still trying to get that muscle back developed where it was at before in that leg” during a Zoom conference in late July. Stansbury said in the Zoom conference there was “no question he’ll be ready to go” by the time full practices started.

Bassey has been the team’s biggest professional prospect in recent years, and participated in the NBA scouting combine the spring following his freshman season. He withdrew his name from consideration late and opted instead to return to WKU for his sophomore season.

He was the Conference USA Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year his first year at WKU after averaging 14.6 points and 10 rebounds per game as a reclassified freshman. Through 10 games as a sophomore, he led the Hilltoppers with 15.3 points and 9.2 rebounds with 16 blocks and eight steals.{&end}

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit bgdailynews.com.

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