Sixers Working Out Contract for Mysterious Second-Round Pick

Getty Charles Bassey

The Philadelphia 76ers made Charles Bassey the 53rd overall pick in last month’s NBA draft. The 6-foot-11 center out of Western Kentucky (via Nigeria) sat on the bench in street clothes during the Las Vegas Summer League.

Bassey, a Lute Olson National Player of the Year finalist in 2020, was a healthy scratch for the Sixers due to an unsigned contract. The team wanted to figure out their two-way slots before going to the negotiating table with Bassey. Aaron Henry (Michigan State) and Grant Riller (College of Charleston) will get two-way contracts and report to training camp on Sept. 28.

Bassey has endured many hardships to get to this point, including season-ending surgery for a tibial plateau fracture (left leg) in 2019. The 235-pounder didn’t even pick up a basketball until he was 12 years old after a Nigerian basketball coach discovered Bassey on the side of the road selling fried chicken. That bulky frame was being wasted on soccer at the time.

At Western Kentucky, Bassey started all 28 games as a junior en route to third-team All-American honors. He averaged 17.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.1 blocks during the 2020-21 campaign while shooting 59% from the field. He wasn’t known for being a three-point shooter in college (31.9% over three seasons), although a sweet stroke during his Sixers’ pre-draft workout helped raise his stock.

“My threes were just going in,” Bassey said. “Even though I missed (some), you’re going to make and miss threes, but they didn’t see any frustration and I was just going with it. They were excited, and I can’t wait to start working with them. I can’t wait.”

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Anthony Tolliver Likely Getting Released

Bassey’s presence likely means the end of the road for Anthony Tolliver. The sharp-shooting swing forward never earned a spot in Doc Rivers’ rotation last April after signing a 10-day contract. According to Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice, Tolliver is “not in the team’s plans.”

Tolliver, a 13-year veteran, came out of semi-retirement to join the Sixers last season. He averaged 1.5 points in 9.0 minutes per game (11 contests) while shooting 28.6% from three-point range (4-of-14). Tolliver has played for 11 different NBA teams and seen action in 730 career games. He had been chasing a championship ring.

Rivers Discusses Addition of Andre Drummond

The Sixers should feel pretty confident about their depth at the center spot heading into training camp. Joel Embiid just inked a four-year supermax contract extension, plus the team added All-Star big man Andre Drummond in free agency. Rivers expressed excitement over the way Drummond fits into the offense during a sideline interview with TNT.

“Joel goes off the floor, Drummond comes on the floor,” Rivers said. “We’re gonna be protective of Joel so in the games Joel misses, we’re gonna have Andre Drummond starting in those games. That’s gonna make us all feel good all the time.”

Bassey projects as the third-string center, with a chance to learn a lot behind Embiid and Drummond. Better yet, the rookie is already familiar with Embiid since the two share the same trainer. The two actually competed together in a 5-on-5 scrimmage when Bassey was 18 years old, per NBC Sports Philadelphia. Bassey said he “learned a lot.”


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