He’s coming back.

An hour after the early-entry deadline to enter the NBA draft, Western Kentucky announced Charles Bassey will return for his sophomore season.

WKU made the announcement official late Wednesday night after multiple reports indicated Bassey would keep his name in the NBA draft. When the 11 p.m. CDT deadline for early-entry withdrawal passed, no word on the freshman center’s decision either way was confirmed.

Approaching midnight, the Hilltoppers program announced Bassey is indeed returning.

Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported Tuesday that Bassey was expected to stay in the NBA draft, “barring a last-second change of heart,” according to a source.

If drafted, the Lagos, Nigeria, native would have been the first Hilltopper since Jeremy Evans in 2010 selected into the NBA. Dallas Mavericks forward Courtney Lee is the only active WKU basketball alum still in the NBA after being drafted in 2008.

“I want to take this step, and I want to go to the NBA,” Bassey told a pool of reporters at the NBA draft combine in Chicago on May 16.

That same day, Bassey said he was still evaluating options regarding his future.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reported that Bassey and Central Florida’s Tacko Fall held a pre-draft workout Wednesday in Los Angeles for Gary Durant Sports Management.

But just before midnight, WKU basketball’s official Twitter account posted a picture of Bassey reading, “More work to do. Charles is back.”

Bassey declared for the NBA draft in mid-April without signing with an agent in order to receive evaluation and retain his college eligibility. He participated in the NBA draft combine in Chicago this month and worked alongside other top professional prospects.

WKU coach Rick Stansbury on May 15 said he was encouraging Bassey to stay in the draft if he felt he’d be a top-25 pick, but to evaluate the facts in the process.

Some NBA analysts tabbed the 6-foot-11, 239-pound center as a second-round player.

The latest ESPN mock draft predicted Bassey would go 52nd overall to the Charlotte Hornets, and The Athletic projected him as the 60th pick, the final pick of the two-round process. CBS Sports did not have Bassey listed in two of its mock drafts.

ESPN has Bassey ranked 80th overall on its list of prospects.

The NBA draft will be June 20.

The Conference USA Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year averaged 14.6 points, 10 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in his only season with Hilltoppers.

He shot 62.7 percent from the field and led C-USA in double-doubles (17) and ranked in the top 30 nationally in six other categories. He became just the second freshman in the country since 1992 – along with former Kentucky standout and current NBA star Anthony Davis – to average at least 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks while shooting 60 percent.

– Follow sports reporter Elliott Pratt on Twitter @EPrattBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com


Covering the Western Kentucky University athletics beat for the Bowling Green Daily News.

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