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Charles Bassey, top player in 2019 recruiting class, now part of Aspire Academy in Louisville

By Larry Vaught, 08/28/17, 9:30PM MST


Charles Bassey

With R.J. Barrett reclassifying to the 2018 recruiting class, it would not be a huge step to see forward Charles Bassey become the consensus No. 1 player in the 2019 class.

He’s already a consensus top five pick in the 2019 class — and this season he will be playing in Kentucky.

He’s left St. Anthony Catholic High School in Texas along with three teammates to play at Aspire Academy, a new school in Louisville coached by Jeremy Kipness. Last year Aspire was located in Arizona but it is now in Louisville and affiliated with DeSales High School.

The 6-10, 220-pound Bassey is from Nigeria originally. He’s played for Adidas YES II Success along with several of his new Aspire teammates.

Bassey already has scholarship offers from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor, Tennessee, Washington, UCLA, T, Creighton, Western Kentucky and others. ESPN has him ranked No. 2 in the 2019 recruiting class. has him No. 1.

Kipness knows how good Bassey is now, and can be in the future.

“Right now he has such a solid foundation and skill set to go along with a God-given athleticism and physique,” Kipness, a former assistant coach at Louisville, said. “I think most people don’t realize that even though how good a player he is, he is an even better kid.

“He embraces the grind. He really does. He is very coachable. It just adds to a special recipe. There are a lot of talented players but they do not have the intangibles — but he does. He has God-given talent and a high ceiling for the future."

Bassey did not start playing basketball at an early age in Nigeria. Once he started playing, he developed rapidly. He left home to play basketball in the United States and has become a star. He has terrific athleticism and runs the floor well. He has good hands and touch. He can rebound, but he can also hit from 3-point range. He alters shots on defense. If he has a weakness, it would be maintaining intensity for a full game — something that will change under Kipness.

“He is humble. It is all about the team for him,” Kipness said. “When you have your best player who is the guy who works the hardest and can be the guy who leads by example, it makes everything a lot easier. Obviously his presence is undeniable, but when you speak with him you learn this a guy who takes to heart utilizing his ability for the team.”

Bassey made an unofficial visit to Kentucky last season but still has no scholarship offer. He’ll play in three Grind Session events in Kentucky — two in Marshall County and one in Paducah — this season along with other selected games. He had a relationship with Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury that started when Stansbury was on the Texas A&M staff.

“All parties wanted to make sure this was the best situation for him and he would receiver a great education in addition to working on his basketball skills,” Kipness said. “That is the great thing about our partnership with DeSales. St. Anthony was great for him and now he has DeSales for academics. It just all worked out for him to be here.”