By LARRY VAUGHT
Charles Bassey, one of the top-ranked players in the 2019 class, is not one to worry about who is recruiting him — or who is not.
The 6-10 Bassey — who has a 7-5 wingspan — has made one minor concession, though, to keeping up more with what is going on around him. He’s now got an active Twitter account (@charles_bassey_).
“Before I was just concentrating on other things. I am adjusting well now, so I have time for Twitter. Everybody uses Twitter. It’s all good,” he said during a recent interview in Louisville before his team, Aspire Academy, practiced.
His rise to stardom and national prominence is fascinating. He was selling chicken on the side of the road in Nigeria at age 12 and soccer, not basketball, was his sport. A basketball coach spotted him, talked him into playing basketball and Bassey ended up in the United States playing at St. Anthony Catholic High School in San Antonio. He switched to Aspire Academy this year.
Fans in Kentucky will have plenty of chances to watch him play, including the upcoming Marshall County Hoop Fest in Benton. Aspire will play Findlay Prep (Nevada) – which just added top 10 2018 player Bol Bol -- on Dec. 2 at 1:30 p.m. CST and then face Memphis East — which has James Wiseman, the nation’s No. 1 player in the 2019 recruiting class — Dec. 3 at 1:30 p.m. CST.
“It is going to be a good game (against Memphis East). Going against the No. 1 player (Wiseman), it’s going to be a good game going against him. I just have to do what I do best playing against the best. I have played against him in some camps. He is a good player. I know that,” Bassey said. “For the fans it will be a good game. I just have to go out there and go play.”
Bassey enjoyed playing in Kentucky last season and anticipates even bigger crowds this year.
“I loved the fans down there. They were great and like watching you do what you do best,” Bassey said. “I don’t really know yet how good our team will be. We just have to listen to our coaches and play defense better. Just lock in and be ready. But those fans make you want to really play well for them.”
Bassey is keeping his focus on games, not recruiting. He’s in no rush to narrow his list of possible college choices.
“I just want to take my time. I don’t worry about recruiting. I just go in the gym and play,” he said.
He lets his coaches and parents talk to coaches and tell him what is happening.
“I don’t even know for sure who has offered (scholarships),” Bassey said.
His coach, Jeremy Kipness, knows and says the list includes Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor, Tennessee, Washington, UCLA, T, Creighton, Western Kentucky and others. But Kentucky has not made an offer or been in contact very much.
“I have heard they are looking at me. I took a trip there my freshman year,” Bassey said. “I don’t know any more than that. I am just trying to focus on my game right now.”
He says that focus has led to a more accurate shot as well as better movement in transition.
“I know more about where to be on the floor,” Bassey said. “I still have a lot of work to do with posting on the block and getting mismatches and I can still shoot the ball better. I am working on all that.”
Unlike some players, he doesn’t mind playing in the low post to help his team. He can play on the floor with his athleticism and score from outside. But he understands what it takes to win games.
“I just have to be there (in the post) to help my team any way I can,” he said.
He likes the way Kipness, a former college assistant coach, pushes him and teammates daily. Bassey has a lot of talented future Division I teammates and says Kipness challenges them all.
“I met him during the summer and my parents introduced me. He talked to me and I just liked him,” Bassey said. “He mainly gets on me about talking on defense. I have to do better and communicate more and just get better on defense. He tells you to play defense, run the floor. He wants you to sprint and just get better every day.”
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