Western Kentucky could make a big March Madness run
Last season had there been a NCAA Tournament, Western Kentucky could have been a Tournament team but without Star Big Man, Charles Bassey who missed much of last season due to an ACL Tear the Hilltoppers fell off. Without their star big, they were led by Jared Savage, Taevion Hollingsworth, and Josh Anderson this season and they went 20-10, while Bassey only played a few games, so they could’ve won 25+ with Bassey and his talent level in the lineup. Most of last seasons team is back minus Jared Savage, and Cam Justice but their best 2 players return. Here’s a quick roster outlook:
PG: Jordan Rawls
SG: Taevion Hollingsworth
SF: Josh Anderson
PF: Carson Williams
C: Charles Bassey
This is a team that has four players who scored in double figures returning with Hollingsworth, Bassey, Williams, and Anderson all back. My main concern for this team is their bench/depth, if Bassey or someone else gets hurt again they aren’t built to make a run.
Taevion Hollingsworth is an elite-level player at getting to the rim, getting fouled and a serviceable shooter at 30% from deep, but his 47% overall is very good. In a 3 Overtime game against Louisiana Tech he dropped 43 points, that’s the level of talent you have with Hollingsworth entering his Senior Season, he and Jhivvan Jackson of UTSA should battle for C-USA Player of the year but it could also be this next guy.
Charles Bassey tore his ACL 10 Games into the season in a win against Arkansas and had averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds per game up until then. The former Top-10 recruit had offers from Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, and LSU. The talent level of Charles Bassey is incredible, he’s strong, has a nice touch at the rim and he’s a good defender. He likely would have left for the NBA had he not gotten hurt.
Carson Williams the former Northern Kentucky Norse player had 14 points and 6 rebounds per game in his first season as a Hilltoper. Williams is a really good shooter at 39% and he averaged double figures in both seasons at Northern Kentucky prior to sitting out 2018-19 due to NCAA Transfer Rules. I think he can play a small-ball power forward for this team and while could get burned if they are facing a big team but that shouldn’t be a huge disadvantage due to his scoring.
Josh Anderson entering his Senior Season to this point is a great finisher at the rim, super athletic, great defender, pesky on ball handlers with the ability to get steals. Anderson’s problem is shooting at only 26% this past season, that needs to get better for him to reach his ceiling, even if he can get to 30% he could average close to 15 points per game and what a boost that would be for the Hilltopers.
In his Freshman season Jordan Rawls played a lot and had 7.9 points per game, but he was super inefficient at 37% from the field and 32% from three. He needs to improve his efficiency for him to be a big piece of this team, or be able to feed Bassey consistently. Even though I have Rawls listed as the point guard, Hollingsworth will handle the ball more but I think technically Rawls will be the listed one-guard.
In 2017-18, Western Kentucky went 27-11 and went to the NIT and won a few games. In 2018-19 went 20-14 with no postseason appearance, which was a huge disappointment. Stansbury in his time as the Hilltopers coach hasn’t made the Tournament now entering his 5th season but in his 13 seasons as Mississippi State Head Coach he was pretty successful. A Coach with a ton of experience, 2 star players, and some good complimentary guys is one that could be dangerous. This team has Sweet-16/Elite-8 Potential do not sleep on this team come March 2021.