When it comes to the sudden rise of random college programs, it’s hard to think of one comparable to the current Western Kentucky squad.
In the span of fewer than 18 months, the Hilltoppers have landed two different 5-star recruits. Both are big men at the very top of their relative positions for their class. And while Mitchell Robinson didn’t work out the way anyone hoped, Charles Bassey now has the potential to truly transform not only Western Kentucky, but the larger hope and prospects of mid-major programs everywhere.
Bassey officially reclassified from the Class of 2019 to 2018 on Wednesday and committed to Western Kentucky in the process. The Aspire Academy (Louisville) star who spent his first two seasons in San Antonio chose the Hilltoppers ahead of scholarship offers from some of the nation’s most prominent programs and has reportedly already enrolled in summer courses at the Bowling Green school.
“After discussing this opportunity with my parents, I feel that this is the best decision for me,” Bassey said in a statement released to the media via Western Kentucky. “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.”
The true transformative factor for Western Kentucky is Stansbury himself, a former Power 5 program coach at Mississippi State and an assistant coach on Mississippi State’s lone Final 4 squad. In other words, he has legitimate collegiate coaching bona fides.
Of course, it’s one thing to recruit top classes to a Power 5 program, even one without a long heritage of success such as Mississippi State. It’s another thing entirely to recruit them to a Conference USA school in Bowling Green, Kentucky known mostly for its mascot’s lawsuit against an Italian media company.
Still, Bassey’s commitment, in conjunction with the fleeting time Robinson spent on campus at Western Kentucky, serves as confirmation of Stansbury’s vision. A Kentucky native, Stansbury’s hard-recruiting efforts boast the potential to turn the Hilltoppers into a Southern Gonzaga, complete with NIT success serving as a springboard on to upsets in the big tournament.
They’re halfway there following a 2017-18 campaign that ended in the NIT semifinals, all played without the program’s primo recruit in Robinson. Now, with Bassey officially in tow, the sky truly is the limit.