There were many story lines involving the 2009-2010 West Virginia University men’s basketball team that made it to the final four. When a team makes a March run the way the Mountaineers did, one could expect the team to be up front and in the news.
One of the hottest topics of the season, from start to finish, was WVU sophomore forward Devin Ebanks. From the very beginning of the season, when Ebanks was serving some sort of suspension, to the end of the season when there was speculation of his impending decision whether to return to WVU for his junior season or enter the NBA draft. He has decided to try the NBA.
In between, trying to figure out Ebanks, listed at 6-8, 208, was a monumental guessing game. There was the suspension to begin the season. Then there was a hand injury that sidelined him for a game. Rumors swirled about the hand injury. The official report was that he hurt it on the rim while dunking the ball. Internet rumors persisted the injury resulted from some horseplay involving a teammate.
Coming out of high school Ebanks was called a NBA caliber player. His obvious need was strength. At his current weight Ebanks looks skinny by NBA standards. Subtract 20 some pounds from that frame and you have a very skinny freshman.
Even so, Ebanks showed signs of brilliance as his freshman season came to an end. So much so that he was arguably the main reason WVU was a consensus pre season Top 10 pick going into this past season.
Ebanks’ sophomore season, in the opinion of many, did not turn out as expected. His play was very spotty. Always a tenacious rebounder, especially considering he was often giving up many pounds inside, his shooting and ball handling seemed to have taken a step backwards from his freshman season. His ball handling skills are interesting. On one hand he is pretty good one on one for a guy with his height. Good enough that coach Bob Huggins would run him at the point in the offense at times. His problems came when he would put the ball on the floor in traffic.
Still, Ebanks was an asset. His defense was always a strength and is very likely the biggest reason he was still being considered a NBA prospect, but just how strong of a NBA prospect is he. For the record, on the ESPN website Ebanks is rated a mid to late first round pick.
That is probably shocking to a number of WVU fans. I have heard many who said there is no way Ebanks would be selected in the draft. The consensus by far is that he needed another season to gain strength to be effective at the next level. While virtually everyone may agree that Ebanks would benefit from another season in college, there were a few who said he would at least be selected if he were to enter the draft.
Pre draft workouts have apparently raised Ebanks’ stock. The mid range jumper that seemed to have deserted him for most of last season seems to have returned. It will be interesting to see what happens during the June 24 draft with Ebanks. At the end of the season he did not look like a first round pick. One scout was quoted that Ebanks may want to learn a foreign language, suggesting that Europe would be where his pro career would begin.
Also of interest is what may become of Da’Sean Butler who suffered a serious knee injury in WVU’s final game against Duke. Butler was regarded as probable first round pick prior to his injury. ESPN currently has Butler listed with a status of “second round to undrafted.”