Realizing major league dreams

Colonials outfielder Mike Bassett is a fairly low-key guy, but underneath that quiet disposition lies the determination to make it to the major leagues. Just as he triumphed in his career at GW to become the most dominant slugger in University history, the senior has large hopes for the pros.

“Every baseball player’s dream is to have a chance to play Major League Baseball,” Bassett said. “So that’s probably my biggest personal goal for this year.”

Bassett, a former quarterback and all-county wrestler at Paramus High School in New Jersey racked up 34 home runs and 128 RBI’s for his high school team but opted to wait on the draft and come to GW.

Once here, Bassett quickly earned a starting role, hitting 14 homeruns with a .313 average his freshman year. He has finished every season batting over .300 and recently broke three school all-time records for career homeruns (52), RBIs (215) and total bases (438). Bassett, named to last year’s All Conference and All Tournament teams, is currently hitting .333 with nine homeruns and 38 RBI’s. He said he would enter the June 4-5 draft.

Even with these impressive statistics, making it to the pros is no easy task. Tampa Bay Devil Rays catcher John Flaherty is the only former Colonial currently in the majors, while three others play for minor league teams.

“There is no question he will be drafted,” head coach Walter said. “The extent of his success will depend on the organization and how much room there is to move up through the system.”

He also said it would be easier for Bassett to succeed in a less competitive organization, adding, “Obviously there’s a big difference between being drafted by the Yankees and being drafted by the Expos, so it will have to be the right situation.”

Walter said Bassett would need to work on his balance behind the plate to improve his hitting. Defensively, Walter called Bassett an “average” fielder who will need to improve his throwing range and overall defense to be successful at the next level. Bassett is averaging just under one error for every 18 putouts this season, with three errors and a .946 fielding percentage.

The slugger said he is not afraid of rejection.

“If I didn’t take the opportunity to try and do it, that probably would eat at me more than if I had the chance and just couldn’t do it,” he said at Kogan Plaza Wednesday afternoon.

Walter agreed that his player has the drive.

“He has a great deal of natural ability, and he’s not afraid to fail,” he said.

While his ability has come naturally, Bassett said his motivation developed after his life changed as an adolescent, when he lost his mother to cancer.

“When that happened, it pretty much inspired me to go out there and always give it my all,” he said. “Even now, when I’m having a bad day, I’ll sit down and think about that and all the stuff she went through.” He continued, “Then you realize things aren’t that bad because there are plenty of worse things that can happen to you.”

The GW senior said he is constantly challenging himself to improve.

“I’m never satisfied with what I do. Whether it’s after a good game or a bad game, I’m always looking for ways to improve, so I never really get complacent.”

Despite the attention he has received, Bassett has remained humble, his coach said.

“Mike is a guy that leads by example,” Walter said. “He works hard in practice and always puts in 100 percent in games. He doesn’t say much, but he’s really well-liked and very personable.”

Not only does Bassett have high hopes for his own future; he has big things in store for his team, namely a berth in the national tournament. Last year, GW came within one game of the NCAA Tournament, finishing second in the A-10 to Temple.

“In the last two or three years here, we’ve had really talented teams, but somehow in the (Atlantic 10) tournament we just didn’t play up to our ability,” he said. “The seniors on this team are all major contributors, so it would be nice to go out being able to say we had the chance to go to a regional (tournament).”

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