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Nation's top sophomore Charles Bassey ruled ineligible

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Charles Bassey
Rivals.com

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Just when I think I've seen it all in my 17 years covering high school basketball recruiting, something happens to remind me that I never need to let that thought enter my mind. Such is the case of 2019's top-ranked player, Charles Bassey, who has been ruled ineligible.

The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) ruled Wednesday that the 6-foot-9 Bassey is ineligible to play his sophomore season at San Antonio (Texas) St. Anthony Catholic. If the suspension is upheld, it could end his career at an TAPPS school.

Anytime a player with the reputation of Bassey, who averaged more than 20 points and 16 rebounds per game while leading St. Anthony to a state title game as a freshman, is ruled ineligible it will cause waves. It has an odd feel to it.

What is making things peculiar is that nobody with TAPPS or St. Anthony appears to be able or willing to explain exactly why Bassey has been ruled ineligible.

Through a spokesperson, Bassey – who has reported scholarship offers from Baylor, Kansas, TCU, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Oklahoma and others – and his guardian Hennsey Auriantal said that they have not been given a reason by TAPPS for his ineligibility. Not surprisingly, Bassey is disappointed.

“I am disappointed that TAPPS will not let me play with my team this year,"said Bassey in a statement to Rivals.com. "I played for St. Anthony High School last year and nothing about my situation has changed, so it does not make sense that they would declare me ineligible. I am a student-athlete that loves the game of basketball. All I want to do is play with my team.”

Earlier this morning I left TAPPS executive director Bryan Bunselmeyer a voice mail asking him for a comment on the matter. He has not returned my call. St. Anthony coach Jeff Merritt said that he was not allowed to comment on the situation.

Bunselmeyer did speak with Adam Zuvanich of MySanAntonio.com.

“As far as TAPPS governance is concerned, he is not eligible in accordance with TAPPS governance,” Bunselmeyer told Zuvanich. “It’s not right for us to talk about specific reasons for his ineligibility. That would have to come from St. Anthony.”

Speaking with sources close to the situation, it appears that TAPPS is indicating that Bassey has received some type of inducement to play at St. Anthony. However, nobody can point to anything specific and there have been no changes in the home situation for Bassey.

The major question at hand, is why is this just now an issue after Bassey played his freshman season without incident or question?

Until somebody is willing to provide an actual reason for the ruling – and I do find it hard to believe that nobody knows exactly why Bassey has been ruled ineligible – all that we can do is speculate. Is it a case of other teams and administrators being rotten sports because of Bassey's dominant play? Is Bassey being taken advantage of? Is something more nefarious at play?

We won't know any of those answers until somebody will come clean and provide an actual reason for Bassey's ineligibility.

In the meantime, a high school student who came to the United States from Nigeria in hopes of expanding his educational and athletic horizons appears to be getting caught in the middle of a power struggle where he doesn't seem to have much say.