76ers Draftee Charles Bassey's Basketball Journey Continues in Philadelphia
The 76ers signed Charles Bassey on Friday.
Bassey says he’s told the following story many times before, but it’s a good story.
The No. 53 overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft by the 76ers was selling chicken and playing soccer in his home country of Nigeria when his basketball journey began.
"I sold fried chicken for my parents on the side of the road,” Bassey said. “There was this one afternoon I was selling chicken, playing soccer too, and my [future] coach just walked by and was trying to get chicken from me."
At the time, Bassey was 13 years old.
"He saw my height, you know, and he was like 'I really want you to play basketball.' I was like 'I don't play basketball. Like, this is soccer. That's all we do right here.'"
The coach then asked to talk to Bassey's parents. Bassey said they too would vouch for him: he didn't want to hoop.
The next day, Bassey was surprised to see the coach at his house.
"I think one of my friends told him where I lived."
After that, Bassey felt he had to give basketball a try.
"I went on the first day and didn't really like it. I left and he didn't see me there for two weeks. He came back to my house, talked to my parents, and [I thought] let me just try and go a few more days. I went back and just started being consistent and I just fell in love with the game."
Bassey, who came to the United States for high school before playing his college basketball at Western Kentucky University, is no stranger to Philadelphia.
"I was happy, my pre-draft [training] was in Philly,” Bassey said of landing with the Sixers. “I was here for almost two months. It was fun.
"This is a championship organization for sure. [It’s] got great players...just coming in here and learning from this group of guys, I can't wait to get started.”
The 6-foot-11 big man recalls playing against one of those great players a few years back.
Fresh out of high school, Bassey matched up with Joel Embiid.
“I think I've worked against him once," said Bassey. "I think I was 18. Yeah, going into college...we played five-on-five and he was just teaching me the game. I think that was [my] first time going against an NBA guy, a guy that's really good. I learned a lot from him and that's when I knew I had a good step going forward. The next step to the NBA."
The two players share a trainer, Drew Hanlen, so naturally Bassey kept tabs on the four-time NBA All-Star.
“I've watched some of his film, when he was a rookie and stuff,” Bassey said with an eager smile. “Yeah, I'm excited. I can't wait."
Of course, there’s a lot for him to like about Embiid’s game:
"First of all, his touch around the rim. The way he shoots the ball. The way he plays hard. He's just a guy that excites the team and the fans. The fans love him."
Across his three seasons at Western Kentucky, Bassey averaged a double-double with 2.5 blocks per game en route to various All-American honors.
"First of all, the defensive side of the game, [I’m an] elite defensive player,” said Bassey of his skill set. “Blocking shots, running the floor, switching on screens. Elite rebounder. As a guy that's my size, I can shoot, shoot the three.”
The player bringing the excitement, the fans loving the player, there’s perhaps no better example than Embiid.
And Bassey is confident he can bring that same type of energy.
"It's going to be fun to watch me play. Y'all are going to love me, for sure. Y'all are going to love what you see.”