The Times West Virginian

October 1, 2013

WVU hoops faces some uncertainties

By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — It appears West Virginia will be heading into the new basketball season without top recruit Elijah Macon for the second straight season and that the fate of one of the other featured recruits, Jonathon Holton, remains uncertain.

Speaking to the media on the first day of practice, Coach Bob Huggins was somewhat cryptic in his report on the two recruits, but offered no optimism on either.

Macon, a 6-9 power forward who was a 4-star recruit, originally signed with West Virginia in 2012 but failed to qualify, sending him off to Brewster Academy.

This past August he enrolled at WVU but apparently is only a partial qualifier, which will keep him from playing this season and practicing at least until the second semester.

Huggins shed little light on the situation. Asked if one could assume Macon would miss this season, the coach answered: “Yeah, I would think it would be way more that way than the other way.”

Huggins was reluctant to say much more.

“Honestly, I don’t know how much I’m allowed to get into,” Huggins said.

Not that it matters now due to offseason wrist surgery he underwent and now a toe injury that had completely sidelined him.

“He’s not even able to run now,” Huggins said.

Holton is a 6-7 stringbean of a forward who spent one year at Rhode Island, averaging 10.2 points a game. He got into legal difficulties at Rhode Island and wound up at Palm Beach State Community College in Florida last year before signing to play at WVU.

“As of right now Holton is not eligible to play, but he is eligible to practice,” Huggins said.

Asked when the matter might be cleared up, Huggins replied: “I think that we’ll have a final answer at the end of the week. That’s a guess.”

You had the feeling he wanted to add, “and your guess is as good as mine.”

These, of course, are probably the two jewels of a completely retooled team that was meant to fit better into the Big 12 than the team that gave Huggins his first losing record, 13-19, since his first season as a coach as it was miscast in the new conference.

Huggins does have four other newcomers in Remi Dibo, Devin Williams, Nathan Adrian and Brandon Watkins, along with returnees Terry Henderson, Eron Harris, Juwan Staten, Kevin Noreen and Gary Browne.

“The one thing we made a conscious effort on was to recruit guys who could make shots,” Huggins said. “Whether they do or not, I don’t know, but they are capable of making shots.”

Unlike past Huggins teams, this group does not figure to pound the boards but will, instead, live off tight defense that was lacking a year ago and the ability to make baskets.

Harris and Henderson figure to be the leaders in scoring and Huggins expects much improvement out of them from their freshman seasons.

“I think the biggest difference with both those guys is their overall strength, that and their demeanor. They are both so much more confident,” Huggins said.

“They know what they’re doing. They know what’s expected of them. They are not running around wondering what they are supposed to do. They have both done a real good job of helping the younger guys.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.