Team: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Current Record: 13-4
Coach: Rick Stansbury
Coach Profile: Stansbury was the head coach at Mississippi State from 1998–2012, where he took the Bulldogs to six NCAA Tournaments. He spent 2014-2016 as an assistant at Texas A&M before coming to Western Kentucky in 2016. He has a record of 82-52 so far at WKU coming into this season. He’s yet to take the Hilltoppers to the NCAA Tournament, but this may be the year.
What Makes Them Special?
Talent. The talent on the Hilltoppers roster is not typical of a Conference USA team. It starts with Charles Bassey. He’s a likely first round NBA pick this year and could even be a lottery pick. The latest I’ve seen in mock drafts is around 14th overall. Bassey is a 6’11 big-man who’s currently 43rd in the country in offensive rebounding and 4th in defensive rebounding. He’s 3rd in the country in rebounds per game (12.2). He’s second in the country in blocks per game (3.4). He’s scored in double digits every game this season and he leads the Hilltoppers in points and rebounds at 17.8 ppg and 12.2 rpg. He’s averaging a double-double and the C-USA is still searching for ways to stop him.
The secondary scoring comes from Taveion Hollingsworth. He can be a high volume scorer (he actually takes more shots than Bassey), but he can score it. When he gets hot, teams are in trouble. He’s currently the second leading scorer on the Hilltoppers at 13.6 ppg.
They have those two scorers, but they have a really talented crew around them. Dayvion Mcknight keeps getting better as a freshman point guard, Josh Anderson provides a third scoring option and Carson Williams helps out Bassey on the boards. Sophomore Jordan Rawls can provide an offensive spark off the bench and Luke Frampton comes in as a shooter to give the offense more ways to put up points.
Although they have a freshman point guard, the Hilltoppers have plenty of seniors and experience surrounding Mcknight. They have four seniors and two juniors in the rotation.
Western Kentucky got my attention early on in the year when they beat Northern Iowa and Memphis in the Crossover Classic before losing to West Virginia by six in the championship game. They have a couple other solid wins over Alabama and Rhode Island too. They’ve definitely faced some quality competition.
Another note on the Hilltoppers, they have the 6th best free throw shooting percentage in the country (80.2%). McKnight, Hollingsworth, Frampton, Rawls and Anderson are all hitting at over 80% this year.
They can rebound, shoot, attack the basket and draw fouls, close games out at the line and Charles Bassey is just a monster. The Hilltoppers are one of those teams that could present some problems for teams come tourney time.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 2020-21 Player Stats