WKU defeats Austin Peay 97-75

Western Kentucky center Charles Bassey shoots during WKU’s 97-75 win over Austin Peay on Nov. 9, 2019, at E.A. Diddle Arena.

Western Kentucky junior center Charles Bassey has been named one of 50 national watch list members for the 2021 Jersey Mike’s Trophy Men’s Player of the Year award, as announced Thursday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

The Naismith Trophy is given annually to the top men’s college basketball player in the nation. This is the second straight year that Bassey has been named to the watch list. Last season, he became the first Hilltopper to make the list since Courtney Lee in 2007.

A list of the midseason 30-member team will be released in early February, followed by the 10 national semifinalists and four finalists March 4 and March 16, respectively. The 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy will be awarded during the Final Four at the Naismith Awards Brunch on April 4.

Bassey has already been named a Preseason Second-Team All-American by Lindy’s Sports Magazine, as well as a member of the watch list for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.

This is the second straight year Bassey has been named to the Kareem Award watch list. He was a top-five finalist for the award as a freshman.

The 6-foot-11, 235-pound native of Lagos, Nigeria, will enter this season as the nation’s active leader in career rebounding average (9.8 per game).

Last season, he averaged 15.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 blocks in 10 games before suffering a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg against Arkansas on Dec. 7.

Bassey had successful season-ending surgery in Houston on Dec. 10, began rehab immediately and was cleared to resume full contact activities in September.

Last season, Bassey was selected to the preseason watch lists for the Naismith Trophy, the John R. Wooden Award and the Oscar Robertson Trophy, the most prestigious National Player of the Year honors in the country.

As a freshman, Bassey averaged 14.6 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks while shooting 62.7% from the field. He was named a Freshman All-American in addition to being a Kareem Award top-five finalist.

Bassey became the second player in Conference USA history to win both C-USA Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season in 2019, and he was also named to the All-C-USA First Team, All-Freshman Team and All-Defensive Team.

WKU 2021 signee guard Zion Harmon was named last week to the watch list for the 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Boys Basketball Player of the Year award.

WKU is one of 12 schools with a player on the watch list for both the college and high school National Player of the Year awards, along with Baylor, Duke, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA and Villanova.

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