On draft day the Sixers used cash to acquire the 53rd overall pick. Later that night, they landed a former top high school recruit. Charles Bassey, a San Antonio native, was ESPN’s 18th overall ranked prospect in 2018, the same year players like R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, Bol Bol and Romeo Langford rounded out the top 5. Fast forward, Bassey was leading the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in points, rebounds, and blocks before suffering a tibial plateau fracture which led to a lengthy rehab and altered his path; ahead of the 2020 NBA draft, he was a projected midround pick.
(Perhaps he would have went around the range Tyrese Maxey did, if not sooner, to a rival who knows?)
Charles Bassey said his tibia injury was tough, but mentioned he felt like he came back better than ever.— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) July 31, 2021
Bassey talked today, per our Tom West about training with Drew Hanlen, Joel Embiid’s long time trainer.
Charles Bassey mentioned that he's trained with Drew Hanlen since he was 18 or 19.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) July 31, 2021
Charles Bassey said he’s excited to learn from Joel Embiid. Said it’ll be a blessing to learn from a guy like that.— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) July 31, 2021
Sixers fans know that Hanlen works with superstars like Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine and others. Hanlen has even dreamed openly on our “No Particular Hurry” podcast of a franchise featuring all of his players on one expansion team playing somewhere warm like Maui. Maybe Joel Embiid can get him to settle for Philly and recruit the rest of the Pure Sweat superstars. It’s been a little warmer than usual lately, have we bridged the weather gap between Philly and Maui yet?
Bassey has been working with Hanlen now for a couple of years as well and believes he’s more skilled than fans might realize.
Charles Bassey says he doesn't think everyone realises how well he can shoot, and that that's something he can showcase in Summer League.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) July 31, 2021
Daryl Morey has tempered expectations for his two new rookies. Per Ky Carlin Sixers Wire:
“We don’t go into like a season saying like ‘Hey we think the guys we just drafted are gonna help in year one’,” Morey finished. “That wouldn’t impact any of our free-agent decisions.”
But from another post by Carlin, noting how Head Coach Doc Rivers had some influence on the team selecting a pair of bigs, (they also stashed Adriatic League MVP, Filip Petrusev) more from Morey, who seems high on Bassey:
“Bassey, since we’re talking about bigs, Charles Bassey led the country in defensive rebounding, I think he’s like one of the top three or four prospects, actually might have been number one in shot-blocking among prospects,” Morey continued. “He’s someone who can shoot. I think with the bigs we’re bringing in, we want to make sure they can, they’re either switchable or can shoot, and Charles has versatility there. I don’t know. We like who we picked. Shocker.”
Whether or not Bassey will be able to step right in and contribute will depend on a lot of factors, but one thing is clearer: his ceiling as an NBA player will likely hinge on his ability to both protect the rim on defense and stretch the floor by knocking down wide-open 3s on offense.
It sounds like both Morey and Bassey like his chances to get there at some point.
Bassey shared this morning a video clip on Instagram. My favorite part was the story by Hanlen about Bassey around the 1:35 mark of the clip below. While still in high school, getting to play some pickup hoops with Embiid and Brad Beal, Bassey was thrown right under the bus by Beal:
Here’s the quote from coach Hanlen:
“There’s a really funny story. He was in high school and I thrown him into one of my NBA five-on-five runs. So I matched him up with Joel Embiid, kind of a true ‘welcome to the big leagues’ and [Bassey] was on Brad Beal’s team. And he set a screen for Brad Beal, and Joel blitzed Brad and doubleteamed him, and Brad just picked up the ball and was like ‘c’mon man, Drew I know you want to give him some reps but c’mon I can’t have him on my team... and that was the first moment that I think Charles realized how big of a gap that he had to shrink if he wanted to play at the NBA level. And what I’ve seen from him for the last 3 years, I’ve seen a huge leap. Just really cool to see how much he’s grown as a person and a player since the first time that I’ve met him.”
It’s a great story, and reminds me of the time Suns’ superstar Devin Booker caught some heat for getting annoyed by constant double teams in summer pick-up runs. C’mon Beal, the perfect chance to work on your passes to the rolling big man!
Devin Booker was not happy about seeing a double team in an open gym https://t.co/KUM0xw8Jdu— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 21, 2019
Devin Booker got mad at Joakim Noah because of a double team in open gym and in Game 5 he had a turnover after he got double teamed— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) July 19, 2021
Anyway, great story, and exciting to see how far Bassey has climbed since his injury, (has he come out the mud or is that copyrighted to BBall Paul?) the same one former NFL star JJ Watt had. You might remember when Watt showed you his scar. It’s not for the squeamish. I wonder if Bassey has one like that.... But thankfully, reports were that CB suffered no ligament damage, and bone heals much better than ligament.
He has come so far, and well...he kind of looks like a monster:
If he can continue to set those soul-crushing screens, run the floor, change directions (see that eurostep?) and knock down open 3s he could be a keeper. Coach Hanlen talks about the importance of him mastering decision making off of the short roll, as a possible “hybrid four” like Draymond Green or Bam Adebayo. In the clip, they talked about dribble hand offs, delay action, and even “popcorn” action, whatever that one is.
No team knows better than these Sixers how the lack of a good second-round viable backup five can cost you a shot at the conference finals, in two out of the last three years. Not traumatized, you’re traumatized.