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2021 Buzzworthy Picks: Charles Bassey

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The Hornets could search more center depth in the second round.

2021 NBA Draft Combine Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

The Charlotte Hornets need a center. While a second round pick at the position isn’t likely to move the needle too much in the immediacy, it wouldn’t hurt to play the numbers game and hope one of several dart throws hits big. After all, center is probably the easiest position to find hits that way.

One dart throw possibility is Charles Bassey, center out of Western Kentucky. Bassey grew up in Nigeria playing soccer, but he was recruited to play basketball by a local basketball coach due to his size when he was about 12 years old. He soon moved to the United States, where he quickly became one of the most hyped prospects in the nation.

Despite being a five-star recruit coming out of high school, Bassey elected to attend Western Kentucky. There, he averaged 15.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks for his career. He made the All Conference USA team in both of the full seasons he played and was named conference Player of the Year in his final season.

Upside

Bassey shows the traits that are needed in modern NBA centers. He’s very large, standing at 6’9.25” without shoes with a 7’3” wingspan and an 8’11” standing reach. He’s had an NBA frame since coming out of high school, and he’ll likely become one of the most physically imposing players in the league if he commits to it. He’s a tenacious rebounder on both ends of the floor—15.3 rebounds per 40 minutes in his final season.

His length and leaping ability make him a dangerous rim protector defensively. He has a full highlight reel of monstrous blocks. He covers ground quickly and does not hesitate to challenge shots at the rim.

Those same physical traits make him a good target around the basket offensively. He’s a terrific rim runner in transition and lob target in the pick and roll or out of the dunker spot. He gets off the ground quickly and attacks the rim aggressively. This is probably where most of his offense will come in the NBA early on.

However, he has shown glimpses of outside shooting potential. He finished his college career as a 31.9% 3-point shooter on 1.3 attempts per game. That’s not great by any means, but it’s something to build off. His 76.8% career free throw percentage also suggests there’s some potential there. He needs quite a bit of time and space to get his outside shot off, but that’s acceptable for a player that will be playing all of their minutes at the five.

Downside

There’s a chance Bassey ends up being a very limited offensive player. While he’s shown some promise as an outside shooter, he has a ways to go before that skill is NBA ready. If he isn’t immediately catching and finishing, he quickly becomes a negative offensive player. He boasted a 0.8/2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio in college. He’s not a natural play maker by any means, and he has too many instances of trying to play outside of his skill set.

For as much potential as Bassey has on the defensive end thanks to his physical tools, he has some concerning metrics on that side of the ball. His defensive box plus-minus was an abysmal +2.6 as a senior (you’d like a center prospect to be +5 or above in most instances). He only averaged 0.5 steals per 40 minutes in his final season, and low steal numbers tend to be worrisome for draft prospects.

Overview

Bassey’s physical profile and motor are very appealing in a big prospect, especially in the second round. Tack on the flashes of outside shooting, and Bassey looks like a very high ceiling prospect. However, his most likely path to relevance is as a Clint Capela-like energy big that cleans up the glass and gets some opportunistic buckets around the basket. He’ll have to improve as a decision maker to stay on the floor, but the Hornets have good reason to believe their player development program can iron that out. The Hornets need a physical presence on the interior, and Bassey has the potential to give them that if they’re able to land him somewhere in the second round.