Senior Writer

Ohio's Basset latest example knuckleheads rarely change face


Ohio star Armon Bassett was arrested and charged with assault this weekend.

Guess who's not surprised by the news?

Pretty much everybody who knew him at Indiana.

Armon Bassett's history followed him to Ohio. (Getty Images)  
Armon Bassett's history followed him to Ohio. (Getty Images)  
No, Bassett never assaulted anybody in his two years at the Big Ten school (far as I know). But he was dismissed because of "disciplinary" reasons, which is a respectful way of saying, "Go be somebody else's problem, kid." Bassett subsequently enrolled at UAB but left before ever playing a game. From there he enrolled at Ohio, regained his eligibility and led the Bobcats to a blowout of Georgetown in the first round of the 2010 NCAA tournament.

Bassett scored 32 points in that win.

In an interview recorded shortly after, I referred to Bassett as a "knucklehead" because that's the nicest way to reference someone who just might be a little crazy. All things considered, I was being kind.

But I still got a long e-mail from an Ohio fan who took offense. The e-mail closed like this: "Armon Bassett is a great basketball player, but even more, he seems like a good person who is just trying to better himself. It's unfortunate that knuckleheads who get paid to talk college basketball without doing the appropriate background work can't see that and just keep doubting him. I'd say you owe him an apology, but I doubt he would even want it. Armon and the rest of the Bobcats will just have to keep proving people like you wrong, I guess. So don't apologize, just do some research next time."

I didn't apologize.

(You assumed that, I'm sure.)

I instead told the reader I could "do some research" on Bassett if that's what he wanted, but I also explained how I had already done research on Bassett, or at least heard plenty of stories about him, and that those stories are what led to the "knucklehead" reference in the first place. Like so many players, Bassett is talented but troubled. The fact that he had publicly avoided problems at Ohio seemed more coincidental than anything else.

And then came Saturday night.

According to a police report, Bassett -- who has declared for the NBA Draft but not yet forfeited his amateur status -- was charged with assault after allegedly hitting a doorman at a bar. The doorman "received what appeared to be a broken nose," the report said. Ohio released a statement Sunday explaining that school officials are gathering details. So Bassett's future remains in flux, and it's unclear whether he'll remain in the draft (despite a slim chance of being drafted) or return to school, or whether Ohio will even accept him back given the criminal charge he's now facing.

We'll see.

Either way, at least we know this: Armon Bassett is a knucklehead.

We can all agree now, right?

And, I swear, I'm not bringing this up because I take some pleasure in his problems or satisfaction in being right (though I really do love being right). I'm bringing this up to remind you -- as well as every NBA general manager about to invest millions in a prospect, every college coach getting ready to accept a transfer, and every college assistant thinking about recruiting a certain someone -- that knuckleheads rarely change.

Once a knucklehead, almost always a knucklehead.

That's my outlook on life.

It's cynical, I admit.

But it's a safe assumption.

Because trusting knuckleheads typically backfires, sooner or later, in some way.

Armon Bassett is the latest example, but he's far from the only one in sports. Allen Iverson was a knucklehead in high school, and he's a knucklehead today. Ex-Gator Jason Williams was a knucklehead in college and has been a knucklehead in the NBA just like Ron Artest was a knucklehead in college and has been a knucklehead in the NBA. John Daly has never stopped being a knucklehead, nor has Terrell Owens. Bobby Gonzalez, a knucklehead for the ages, enrolled multiple knuckleheads at Seton Hall, and I wrote last preseason that it could cost him his job. Naturally, Gonzalez was fired in March -- a day after his biggest knucklehead, Herb Pope, punched an opposing player's testicles and proved, once and for all, that a knucklehead coaching knuckleheads is a combination destined for disaster.

Question: How many sports figures develop the reputation of a knucklehead, then overcome it forever?

Answer: Not many.

Which is why I'm concerned about DeMarcus Cousins.

He's a knucklehead.

And that's precisely why he won't be drafted where his talent suggests he should be drafted. It doesn't matter that Cousins "never got in trouble while at UK." He'll still have issues of some sort in the NBA, guaranteed. I would bet my Super Saver winnings on it because, again, knuckleheads rarely change.

They can mask it for a while in some cases.

They can trick you if you let them.

But once a knucklehead, almost always a knucklehead.

Armon Bassett is the latest example.

But he's not the first, and he definitely won't be the last.

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.

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