Charles Bassey, No. 2 prospect in Class of 2019, leaves Texas for school with ties to Aspire Academy

Photo: USA TODAY Sports

One of the nation’s top prep basketball players is on the move, and is apparently taking all his international friends with him.

Charles Bassey, currently ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2019, has officially departed St. Anthony in San Antonio. A report from the San Antonio Express-News claims that the academic records for Bassey and three international teammates — all also from Nigeria — have been transferred to St. Francis DeSales High School in Louisville, Kentucky. It is not known whether they students have already enrolled at DeSales or if their academic records were sent there as a preparatory step to that end.

That procedural move would seem to indicate that Bassey and fellow prospects Ousmane Ndim, Jordan Persad and Obi Prosper are all en route to play basketball at Aspire Academy, which has an academic tie with DeSales after leaving its prior location in Arizona.

The move to Kentucky also marks a 180 from Bassey himself. The teen told USA TODAY’s Jason Jordan in less than two weeks ago that he knew nothing about a plan to transfer to Aspire Academy. Now he apparently has.

The departure of Bassey has forced a dramatic reshaping of the basketball program at St. Anthony, which captured a state title in the Texas Christian Athletic League’s (TCAL) 4A division for college preparatory programs. That division allows schools to recruit elite athletes and provide them with financial aid. Instead, St. Anthony will be reverting to a division of private schools in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS), the more populous and common private school athletic federation for the state.

For Aspire, the addition of Bassey is a statement of immediate intent and, perhaps, a legitimate charge toward a national title. Aspire plays a nationally competitive schedule against many of America’s most elite basketball academies, and finished the 2016-17 season with a 20-13 record and a loss to Kansas’ Sunrise Christian Academy in the quarterfinals of The Grind Session World Championships in Arizona.

While Aspire’s 2016-17 roster featured one of the nation’s largest front lines, it didn’t have a top recruit like Bassey involved. Now the Nigerian native will apprently join Canadian point guard Joel Brown, who has a Division I scholarship offer from Rutgers and has received interest from Louisville, as well as senior point guard Bryce Meadows, to form a powerful inside-out combination for the Aspire Wizards.

Whether Bassey runs into additional enrollment or eligibility issues at Aspire remain to be seen. His final year at St. Anthony was turbulent, brought on by a TAPPS ruling that left Bassey suspended for the season, the program (briefly) without a coach and, eventually, a transition to TCAL Class 4A.

More Outside The Box