MBB: Western Kentucky 85-45 over Kentucky State

Western Kentucky center Charles Bassey (23) grabs a rebound ahead of Kentucky State forward Michael Drynan (22) Saturday, November 2, 2019, during Western Kentucky's 85-45 win at E.A. Diddle Arena. (Bac Totrong/photo@bgdailynews.com)

Western Kentucky sophomore center Charles Bassey continued to pick up prestigious preseason accolades Tuesday with his selection as one of 50 national watch list members for the 2020 John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s, as announced by the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

Chosen by a preseason poll of national college basketball experts, the list is comprised of 50 players who are the early front-runners for some of the most elite honors in college basketball, the Wooden Award All American Team and Most Outstanding Player Award.

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is given to the nation’s best Division I basketball player who has proven to his or her university that he or she meets or exceeds the qualifications of the John R. Wooden Award as set forth by Coach Wooden and the Wooden Award Steering Committee, including making progress towards graduation and maintaining at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA. Previous winners include Larry Bird (‘79), Michael Jordan (‘84), Tim Duncan (‘97) and Kevin Durant (‘07).

The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the 2020 John R. Wooden Award Men’s Player of the Year presented by Wendy’s. Players not chosen to the preseason list are still eligible for the Wooden Award midseason list, late season list, and the national ballot. The national ballot consists of 15 top players who have met or exceeded the qualifications of the Wooden Award. Nearly 1,000 voters will rank in order 10 of those 15 players when voting opens prior to the NCAA Tournament and will allow voters to take into consideration performance during early round games. The Wooden Award All American Team will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the 2020 John R. Wooden Award will be presented by Wendy’s during the ESPN College Basketball Awards on April 10, 2020.

On Monday, Bassey was named to the preseason watch list for the 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy Men’s Player of the Year award, given annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club to the top men’s college basketball player in the nation.

Like the Naismith Trophy watch list, Bassey is the first Hilltopper to make the Wooden Award watch list since Courtney Lee in 2007.

Bassey has already been named a Preseason First-Team All-American by both Lindy’s Sports Magazine and Street & Smith’s Basketball Yearbook.

The 6-foot-11, 230-pound center averaged 14.6 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in his first season for the Hilltoppers in 2018-19 while shooting 62.7 percent from the field.

The Lagos, Nigeria, native led Conference USA in double-doubles (17) and ranked 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 while competing as one of the top-10 youngest players in the country.

He became just the second freshmen in the country since 1992 – along with current NBA star Anthony Davis – to average at least 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks while shooting at least 60 percent overall.

Bassey was named a Freshman All-American and 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. He was also named to the All-C-USA First Team, All-Freshman Team and All-Defensive Team.

Bassey has also been named one of 20 national watch list members for the 2020 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award, given annually to the nation’s top center. He was a top-five finalist for the award as a freshman.

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