Before the Conference USA Basketball Championships get underway next week in Frisco, Texas, the conference's second and third place teams will face off on Wednesday in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The second place WKU Hilltoppers come into the game with an 11-6 conference and 18-12 overall record, one game ahead of UTSA.
WKU is led by Freshman sensation Charles Bassey, who is averaging 14.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. His 72 blocks on the season ranks ninth in the NCAA. Bassey has won the conference’s Freshman of the Week award nine times this season including this week - a feat that ranks him second in Conference USA history.
At the age of 18, Bassey is among the Top 10 youngest players in the nation, while his 14 double-doubles is the highest tally in C-USA and the most ever recorded by a WKU Freshman. The 6’11” 245 pound center from Lagos Nigeria has accomplished all of this on the court while maintaining a 4.0 GPA in the classroom, majoring in sports management.
Bassey was named 1 of 10 national candidates for the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Center of the Year Award. Some NBA Draft boards have Bassey going as high as twelfth to the Atlanta Hawks.
Meanwhile, the third place UTSA Roadrunners travel into EA Diddle Arena with a 10-6 conference and 16-13 overall record.
UTSA is led by the Sophomore backcourt duo of 6’0” Jhivvan Jackson and 6’3” Keaton Wallace. Jackson comes into the contest leading the conference in scoring averaging 22.8 PPG. A Puerto Rico native, Jackson is the grandson of Flor Melendez who played for the Puerto Rican national team in the 1968 Olympics and coached national teams in Puerto Rico, Argentina and Panama.
“My grandfather, he’s a great coach in Puerto Rico, a great scorer. He’s actually left handed too. Every time I go see him, he always mentors me on things that he sees. He likes to come and watch me play,” says Jackson.
“He was one of the first to help me play basketball. He’s been guiding me this whole way and always will.”
Jackson, the reigning C-USA Freshman of the Year, suffered a season ending injury late last season and has returned with a vengeance. He missed the first three games of the season with UTSA going 0-3, and returned over the next five games on a minutes restriction before returning to the starting lineup over the last 21 games.
UTSA has a record of 14-7 over those games while Jackson has averaged 24.8 points and 33.3 minutes. Keaton Wallace comes into the contest averaging 21.2 PPG while shooting 44% from the field. Jackson and Wallace are the third-highest scoring duo in the nation (44.0 PPG). Only South Dakota State’s Mike Daum and David Jenkins (45.0 PPG) along with Duke’s RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson (44.7 PPG) score more.
When UTSA played against WKU on January 31, Jackson set a career high scoring 41 points in an overtime thriller that WKU win 96-88.
UTSA @ WKU, Wednesday, 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT on beIN SPORTS.