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Charles Bassey reclassifies and signs with Western Kentucky, never got a Kentucky offer

Charles Bassey and Aspire Academy coach Jeremy Kipness let me spend time watching practice this season and it was obvious he had special skills. (Joe Hafley Photo)


Because Charles Bassey plays at Aspire Academy in Louisville and not a public high school, he could not have been Kentucky’s 2019 Mr. Basketball. However, don’t doubt that the 6-11 Bassey was the best player in Kentucky in the 2019 recruiting class.

Or at least he was until he reclassified to the 2018 class and signed with Western Kentucky to play for coach Rick Stansbury.  

“We’re happy to have Charles join our family,” Stansbury said in a release from Western Wednesday. “We’re excited about the talent of basketball player he is, but most importantly, the type of person and student he is. He’s a 3.9 GPA student with great character, and we look forward to having him in our program.”

Bassey played in Texas before transferring to Aspire Academy last season when it moved to Louisville. Stansbury had recruited him when he was an assistant coach at Texas A&M and Bassey had made no secret of his feelings about Stansbury and the Hilltoppers since getting to Kentucky.

 “After discussing this opportunity with my parents, I feel that this is the best decision for me,” Bassey said in the WKU release. “Rick Stansbury was the first coach to offer me, and I’m comfortable here. I know coach Stansbury will push me and I want to be a part of rebuilding this program. I’m looking forward to the challenges that college brings and hope to help us win the conference.”

Bassey is a five-star prospect. He outplayed five-star Bol Bol at the Marshall County Hoop Fest last year and more than held his own against James Wiseman, one of the top players in the 2019 recruiting class and a major UK target.

He was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the 2019 class by ESPN.  He averaged 19.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.4 blocks, 2.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game as a junior for Aspire and shot 56.5 percent from the field, including  42.1 percent from the 3-point range.

He broke the Nike Hoop Summit record for rebounds with 17 in a win over Team USA in April.

Yet Bassey was never on Kentucky’s recruiting radar despite playing numerous times in the state as a sophomore and then spending last season with Aspire.

“I think Charles is somebody that can do a little bit of everything. He can get down in the post and go back to the basket. Or he can face up. I think he is the best defender — and best rebounder for sure — in the country. That is where his edge is. He plays hard and with that motor all the time,” Aspire coach Jeremy Kipness told me during the season.

“We know plenty about Charles Bassey. He’s the real deal,” Memphis East staff member Chan Douglas said before facing Bassey in December.

Bassey had a list of major offers that included Kansas, Oklahoma, UCLA, Texas A&M and many others. He took an unofficial visit to Kentucky as a freshman but never got a scholarship offer.

“I have heard they are looking at me. I took a trip there my freshman year,” Bassey said in January. “I don’t know any more than that.”




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  1. I guess Calipari didn’t recruit him because he is not a guard. i wish the young man well. UK could have used this player IMO.

    1. Will never understand why he did not recruit him

  2. Hasn’t Coach Cal earned our trust in these matters? How many times over the years has he either not recruited or backed off from a player everyone said was great, and how many of those times did the player turn out to be less than advertised, or a trouble-maker, or have eligibility problems, or for some other reason be someone we were glad, in the long run, that we didn’t get him after all? In spite of his track record, people are always quick to criticize when Cal doesn’t recruit someone they think he should recruit.

    Bassey may be everything he’s represented as – great player, great student, great character. But I’m sure Cal had some reason for not even offering him a scholarship. We may or may not ever find out what it is, but I trust Cal to do his job. He’s long been called the best recruiter in the game, so I say we just trust his judgement.

  3. Rumor has it there is issues with his guardian shopping him around when he brought him to the United States. Cal steered clear of a potential problem. Not saying W Ky did anything wrong, but I’m glad Cal stayed away from him!

  4. Since Calipari arrived in Lexington, I do not pay much attention to recruiting, the in’s and out’s, and I believe Calipari has demonstrated his ability to evaluate talent, to identify attitudes and situations that will support or detract from success as a UK player, and to find players who will be team first contributors. This does not mean that Calipari’s judgment in these areas has been perfect, but his has been demonstrably strong.

    I also do not care who plays, how much they play, when they play, or how much any individual scores or rebounds. I care about the results that a team earns on the court during the games, and in March/April.

    I do want to see a greater presence on future UK rosters for Kentucky bred and raised players like Darius Miller, Chris Lofton, Derek Willis, and others who have worn the blue and white with the greatest pride possible. I am not sure Bassey fits that description.

    The bottom line for me on the recruitment of this particular player is I trust Calipari to sort through the talent, attitudes, and back stories and make recruiting decisions in the best interest of the UK program. In time, we will all see this particular one with greater clarity, good or bad.

  5. Larry pup, we can’t get every fish in the pond. Besides were already crowded with big men if we get Travis.

    1. But not even an offer?

  6. Larry, the “but not even an offer” situation has to do with what Calipari knew about this particular player and his situation overall. I believe there have been many players over the last 9 years that were very capable players who did not receive an offer from Calipari. I am not concerned at all about the way this player’s recruitment has played out from the UK/Calipari end.

    1. Maybe so, but unless you know first hand what you say Calipari knew about Bassey, how can you say that? Do you know what baggage this young man has that Calipari saw? I find it odd that such a good player did not so much as even get a UK look. Besides the article says he was a fine student with great character. Stansbury didn’t see anything wrong with him for sure. Calipari’s last group of players at UK were certainly not world beaters for sure, and most of them have moved on to pursue the coveted NBA prize even though they are probably not ready, truth be told. I will be hones heret, I am tiring of Calipari’s system. It is always in a state of chaos and change due to the OAD scene. It is costing UK championships too IMO.

  7. Larry, I have no knowledge, only trust in Calipari. I know nothing. But, my trust in Calipari about such matters leads me to not question the absence of a scholarship offer in this or any other case.

    Is Calipari always right in his assessment of such matters? Of course not, but I believe he is right in the vast majority of cases.

    1. OK, I am glad you have trust in Calipari in matters like recruiting. That said, Calipari will recruit whomever he wants. Fans have no control over such things. I was just expressing an opinion about a 6-11 big man that has proven he can play, that’s all. We will see what he does at WKU . I will give Calipari the benefit of the doubt on this recruit. Time will tell the real story I guess. No big deal.

  8. Larry, you are right that time will tell on this one, just as it has on many others. I wish this player well at WKU, and I want Calipari to find a way to integrate the roster with a steady supply of Kentucky boys who want to represent our State in the Blue and White. We probably are not as far apart as it might seem at times. 🙂

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