76ers make Western Kentucky center Charles Bassey a second-round pick

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The Philadelphia 76ers chose Western Kentucky center Charles Bassey in the second round with the 53rd overall pick of the NBA Draft on Thursday night.

Bassey averaged 17.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots for the Hilltoppers this past season. The 6-foot-11, 235-pound native of Lagos, Nigeria, shot 59.0 percent from the field.

He was the fourth player in Conference USA history to win the league’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season, following Charlotte’s Eddie Basden (2005), Marquette’s Dwyane Wade (2003) and Cincinnati’s Kenyon Martin (2000).

“This sport has given me opportunities that I never imagined were possible growing up as a young boy in Nigeria,” Bassey said in a letter he posted on social media when he announced he would not return to WKU for his senior season. “Over the past three years, I have enjoyed my time here in Bowling Green and having the opportunity to play in Diddle Arena. Each of you have welcomed me with open arms and supported me throughout my journey, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

As a freshman, Bassey was named C-USA Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He started all 34 games that season and led WKU with 14.6 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.

His sophomore season was cut short by injury. He started the first 10 games before suffering a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg against Arkansas on Dec. 7.

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