Western Kentucky will hold a pro day at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at E.A. Diddle, an event believed to be the first of its kind in the history of the program.
Scouts representing at least 20 different National Basketball Association franchises are scheduled to attend the workout for Rick Stansbury’s Hilltoppers. The entire 2018-19 team will participate in a standard practice open only to scouts and credentialed media members.
"We got so many calls about guys wanting to come in and watch us practice, so instead of having 'em all come on separate days we'll kind of make it convenient for 'em and have a pro day – which a lot of teams do," Stansbury said Wednesday's Bowling Green Rotary Club luncheon. "I'm sure some people don't like us having that pro day, but that's OK. We like that."
Western’s top professional prospect is freshman Charles Bassey, a 6-foot-11, 245-pound center whose defensive prowess is ahead of his offensive production at this point in his basketball career. The former five-star recruit, considered the sixth-best prep player in the nation (by 247sports), reclassified from the 2019 class to sign with WKU to play this season.
A native Nigerian, Bassey began his United States basketball life at Saint Anthony Catholic in San Antonio, Texas, before transferring to Aspire Academy which had relocated to Louisville for the 2017-18 season. He was named the most valuable players at the Pangos All-American Camp two years in a row and set a Nike Hoops Summit single-game record with 17 rebounds in April.
Bassey is projected to be drafted in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft – ESPN, Bleacher Report and Forbes have all recently tabbed him as a potential top-20 selection.
Scouts on Wednesday will also be able to get a closer look at WKU point guard Lamonte Bearden. Bearden flirted with beginning his professional career in the offseason before ultimately returning to campus.
A 6-foot-3, 170-pound senior, Bearden averaged 11.8 points and 3.4 assists last season, his first active campaign for WKU.
Desean Murray, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound forward and Auburn graduate, and Josh Anderson, a 6-foot-6, 195-pound sophomore guard, are a couple of other Tops who have a chance to raise their draft stock this season.
Western Kentucky has not had a player selected in the NBA Draft since 2010 (although center Mitchell Robinson, who left the WKU program last September, was selected 36th overall in June by the New York Knicks) when Jeremy Evans was picked 55th overall in the second round by Utah. Courtney Lee was a first-round pick (22nd overall) by Orlando in 2008.
From 1987-1996, WKU had five players selected in the NBA Draft – Clarence Martin, Kannard Johnson, Tellis Frank, Darnell Mee and Chris Robinson. Western Kentucky has had 35 NBA Draft picks while more than 20 former Hilltoppers are currently playing professionally in the United States and overseas.
In Stansbury's first two seasons at WKU, all eight of his outgoing seniors – Justin Johnson, Darius Thompson, Dwight Coleby, Pancake Thomas, Junior Lomomba, Que Johnson, Anton Waters and Ben Lawson – have signed a contract to play professional basketball.
— Follow WBKO sportswriter Chad Bishop on Twitter @MrChadBishop