The 2017-2018 West Virginia University men’s basketball season has concluded, but there is still news coming out of Morgantown. First up, the post season awards continue to roll in for senior point guard Jevon Carter. He’s shown up on numerous All American teams as a second or third team selection. He’s also been named defensive player of the year by several outlets. Carter was a lightly recruited two guard out of Maywood, Illinois when head coach Bob Huggins offered him a scholarship four years ago.
Carter didn’t waste the opportunity. He came to Morgantown and bought into Huggins’ blue-collar work ethic and made himself an elite college basketball player. One knew almost immediately that Carter was a tenacious player who would succeed in Huggins system, especially defensively. What wasn’t clear was how well he would handle the transition from a high school shooting guard to a college point guard.
It didn’t happen overnight, but playing a season behind former point guard standout Juwan Staten likely hastened Carter’s progress, as he became a very good offensive threat to go along with his outstanding defense. Carter will be remembered by this observer for his effort. Forget about the hours he spent in the gym honing his offensive skills, Carter’s endurance was amazing. He would aggressively guard the ball for 94 feet and run the offense while averaging over 35 minutes a game. The guy was a true warrior and will be missed.
As Carter did a year ago, two current players on the roster have announced they will test the NBA draft waters. Esa Ahmad and Sagaba Konate will go through the draft process. Neither player has hired an agent and will be able to return to school if they remove their names by May 30.
“Just like Sags, Esa will go through the NBA Draft procedures in a systematic and professional manner by exploring the situation. Numerous college basketball players are testing the waters, gaining valuable feedback and leaving open their option to return to school,” coach Bob Huggins said about Ahmad.
It’s expected that neither player will opt to stay in the draft, in the case of Konate; there may be room for caution. Right now there is no reason to expect Konate to get great feedback from the NBA. He’s probably not even 6-8, the height he’s listed, and NBA guards are that height. He’s only five years into organized basketball and his shooting range is about 15 feet. He’s made great improvement in a short time span, and while he has miles to go to reach NBA levels, there may be some scout who sees something in him already.
Ahmad isn’t likely to get any serious consideration from NBA personnel. There have been rumblings that Ahmad may not be on the team next season whether it be via transfer, or perhaps an opportunity to play overseas for pay. Ahmad came to WVU as one of Huggins highest rated recruits, but he has struggled to live up to that billing. He’s had nights in his career where he has been magnificent and other nights where he could go scoreless and become a turnover machine. Ahmad was suspended for the first half of this past season for failing to meet an NCAA guideline.
There’s chatter that other players from last season’s roster may not return. That chatter is fueled, because the number of players who have signed and the number of players the coaches are still recruiting would put WVU over the 13-scholarship limit if all those pieces fell a certain way. On Monday Maciej Bender, a 6-10 native of Warsaw, Poland announced he will not return for his junior season and transfer out of the program. That puts West Virginia right at 13 scholarship players, but more changes are expected. Stay tuned.