A youth coach discovered Bassey at 12, selling fried chickens by the side of the road. Already up around six and a half feet tall, he was wearing flip-flops several sizes too small for him, and his feet and ankles were cut up and caked in sand and gravel. The coach invited him out to a three-day camp, his introduction to the game. “I’m two and a half years in basketball thanks to him,” Bassey says. He now trains seven hours a day and is due to head to a high school in Austin, Texas on scholarship in the new year.
In an unsurprising turn, Bassey was named the camp’s MVP. Minutes later, standing on the tan gravel of the parking area outside the NIS, he showed that in at least one respect, he’s already prepared for an NBA locker room. “I don’t believe I was the MVP,” he says. “Without my teammates, I would not be. Thanks to my teammates.”
As robotic as team-first humility can sound from young athletes, Bassey comes off sincere, especially so when he switches to the subject of Ujiri. “He was once like this, once like us,” Bassey says. “I wish him good luck in his life. And us, too, so we can do better and do like this for other people, too.”
Charles is now 15 years old and has grown nine inches, standing at 6’10” and is now attending St. Anthony High School in Texas, continuing to train 7 hours a day to perfect his craft.