Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

Basketball notes
The college basketball season endedjust a month ago and
in less than six months teams will be on the court again as
practice for the 2018-2019 season begins. If you’re a West
Virginia University Mountaineers fan you’re probably a little
anxious as to what next season’s roster will look like. On
Monday West Virginia accepted a commitment from 6-7
point guard Jermaine Haley from Odessa C.C. in Texas.
Haley is well traveled. The Vancouver native and four-star
recruit originally went to New Mexico State, but decided to
transfer to Wyoming following his freshman season. Haley
never made it to Wyoming and ended up at Odessa.
While that is an unlikely route to Morgantown, the Mountaineers
could use the presence of a big guard on a roster that
now includes six guards. Beetle Bolden and Brandon Knapper
are listed at 6-0, perhaps generously, and incoming freshman
Jordan McCabe is 5-10. Chase Harler is listed at 6-3, as
is Trey Doomes, another incoming freshman.
Having six guards on the roster sounds like a lot, but at 6-
7 Haley will likely find himself at other places on the court
besides point guard. The addition of Haley brings the Mountaineers
to 14 scholarship players, one over the maximum.
Head coach Bob Huggins and his staff is still actively recruiting
6-7 forward Emmitt Matthews, a former UCONN commit
from Tacoma, Washington. If WVU can land Matthews the
number of scholarship players goes to 15.
This is where things become interesting, and perhaps a bit
stressful depending on what level of fanaticism you possess
toward the Mountaineers. Both Esa Ahmad and Sagaba
Konate have opted to go through the NBA evaluation process
this spring. Neither has signed with an agent, which means
they can return to the teams if they don’t get the feedback
they’re looking for.
Initially the scuttlebutt was that both players were merely
testing the waters and neither would declare for the draft.
There was, however, a rumor that Ahmad might be on his
way elsewhere. In any event, Konate’s status is less certain
than previously thought. Konate, a native of Mali, is one of
13 children, including several brothers who also play, or have
played, college basketball in the United States. There is speculation
that some of these siblings aren’t exactly telling him
what WVU fans would like.
Long time basketball observers don’t need to be experts to
see that Konate has a lot to improve on to be considered a
NBA first round draft pick. Konate has already worked out
for two or three teams and on Monday MetroNews reported
he has been invited to the NBA draft combine in Chicago
May 16-20. This development obviously keeps Konate’s situation
in flux.
The view from here is Konate will be much more NBA
ready in a year, but the X factor is how rapidly we’ve seen
him improve already. All he has to do is impress the right
team that he is a can’t-miss rising player and a team may take
a shot at him this year. Even more to consider is Konate has
other options to improve his game than to return to college