Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

Covering some bases

Last week this space mentioned two new junior college transfers West Virginia University head basketball coach Bob
Huggins had signed to join the Mountaineer basketball team next season. We’ve known for a couple of weeks that center
Sagaba Konate has again declared his intention to test the waters of the NBA draft. Initially, it was thought the enigmatic
center, who missed all but eight games of last season with an unidentified knee injury, was still considered a good possibility
to return for another season. A reliable source has said that situation has changed and there is virtually no chance Konate
will play as a Mountaineer again.

Konate blew up in his sophomore season and became perhaps the premier shot blocker in college basketball and a solid
inside scoring threat. That was impressive; especially for a guy who didn’t surpass a height of 6-7 at last spring’s NBA
combine. Konate was advised to return to college and work on his shooting range to enhance his NBA stock, because his
size doesn’t translate to the center position in the NBA. What’s not clear is what Konate, or a few of his close family
members, think he has improved on in eight games last season that warrants NBA consideration. Count me as one who
thinks Konate will not be in the NBA for the foreseeable future.

Last week Nashville hosted the NFL draft and West Virginia fans had about six reasons to watch. Quarterback Will
Grier and offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste had been mentioned as potential first round picks by a few folks, but were more
widely considered to be late second to third round picks. Linebacker David Long, tight end Trevon Wesco and receivers
Gary Jennings and David Sills were all expected to be selected in the seven round draft.

Grier and Cajuste were selected back-to-back in the third round with Grier getting the call from his hometown Carolina
Panthers as the 100th overall pick. Cajuste went one pick later to New England. In the fourth round Jennings was selected
by Seattle as the 120th pick and Wesco was the next pick by the New York Jets. Long went to Tennessee two rounds later
as the 188th selection.

In a shocker to many, Sills went undrafted. Sills had 33 touchdown catches in two seasons as a wide receiver after he
transitioned to the position from quarterback. I guess those numbers didn’t impress the NFL scouts who likely focused
on his lack of separation skills against better defenders and his dropped passes. Even so, Buffalo quickly signed Sills as
a free agent and most agree that the Bills is probably the best place for Sills to make the 53 man roster.

Finally, a note on the Mountaineer baseball team. Currently, the Mountaineers are 26-15 overall and 10-8 in the highly regarded
Big 12 Conference which ties them with Oklahoma State in third place behind Baylor and Texas Tech. More importantly,
perhaps, is the current NCAA RPI has WVU at 15th which should have the Mountaineers in solid position for a
NCAA tournament berth. Of course 12 regular season games and the tournament remain, so it’s still early to be
counting chickens.