It’s becoming increasingly clear how Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury managed to persuade top 10 prospect Charles Bassey to commit last month.
Stansbury announced Tuesday evening that he has hired Bassey’s legal guardian as an assistant coach on his staff.
Hennssy Auriantal brought Bassey from Nigeria to Texas three years ago via his organization that takes promising international basketball prospects to the United States. In addition to raising Bassey and playing a leading role in his education and basketball career, Auriantal is also the uncle of former Western Kentucky guard Junior Lomomba and the guardian of current Hilltoppers forward Moustapha Diagne.
Western Kentucky’s press release announcing Auriantal’s hire makes no mention of his relationship to Bassey, Lomomba or Diagne. It instead focuses on Auriantal’s background as a player at Wisconsin from 1995-1999 and an assistant coach at Jackson State from 2014-2016.
“We’re happy to have Hennssy join our program,” Stansbury said. “He brings coaching and playing experience at the D-I level in all areas. Besides that, he’s a terrific person and has a beautiful family. We’re excited to have him as part of our team.”
While Stansbury has recruited Bassey since he was still an assistant coach under Billy Kennedy at Texas A&M, it’s difficult to believe he could have landed the prized 6-foot-10 forward at Western Kentucky without hiring Auriantal. Questions about Bassey’s college eligibility scared off some of sport’s elite programs, but the Hilltoppers still had to beat out the likes of Kansas, Baylor, Cal and Wake Forest to land him.
Stansbury is not breaking any NCAA rules hiring a prospect’s guardian as an assistant coach. This is an age-old tactic in college basketball, from Larry Brown hiring Danny Manning’s father at Kansas, to John Calipari hiring DaJuan Wagner’s dad at Memphis, to Andy Enfield hiring the father of top recruits Isaiah and Evan Mobley earlier this spring.
Nonetheless, seldom has the rationale for such a hire been anymore transparent than this one.
Auriantal has spent the past three years working at the prep schools Bassey has attended. Now he is parlaying that relationship into a college job.
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