The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

June 7, 2011

HERTZEL COLUMN - Staten brings skills, speed to WVU

MORGANTOWN — The first thing you have to know about Juwan Staten, Bob Huggins’ latest recruit, is that the kid can pass the rock, as Dick Vitale might put it.

Look one way, throw the other. Bounce pass, no sweat. Baseball pass, mark it up.

How good is this point guard who is transferring from Dayton after leading the Atlantic-10 in assists as a freshman with five a game?

“We haven’t had anyone who can pass the ball like him,” Huggins said Monday after receiving Staten’s transfer papers.

That includes Joe Mazzulla and it includes Darris Nichols, both of whom made the West Virginia offense go.

He’s the whole package, so fast that his high school nickname was “The Blur.”

Staten has big-time ability, which he showed when he was a top 50 recruit coming out of Thurgood Marshall High School in Dayton and Oak Hill Academy.

What’s more, Huggins noted, “He’s a great kid.”

It’s a package almost too good to be true, certainly one worth waiting for him to sit out the mandatory year required by the NCAA.

There is, however, a question that rises when it comes to Staten.

Why was he transferring from Dayton, even after the coach he was having a problem with, Brian Gregory, was fired?

Something was goofy about the whole thing.

That something, it would appear, was Staten’s father, Billy.

Billy Staten is a father who cares about his kid, which is not bad. He was an assistant high school coach and filled in as head coach for a year when the coach took a medical leave.

It seemed perfect, hometown kid goes to the local university, but a year in it was a mess and somehow his father was being cast as the bad guy, alienating just about everyone around the Dayton program.

As the marriage between Juwan Staten and the Flyers came to an end, with him announcing he was transferring to Penn State, a done deal until Ed DeChellis left there, the Dayton fans were expressing hard feelings toward the father.

“Billy Staten is toxic,” wrote one.

“Billy, you have to look at the reality of what is happening on the court, not the fantasy running in your head,” wrote another.

But that’s fans, and fans, well, they will be fans.

Tom Archdeacon is a respected veteran columnist with the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield Sun.

This is what he wrote, and it wasn’t kind to either father or son:

“Billy Staten, Juwan’s dad, claimed his son liked playing at UD, but he could not play for Gregory, who has since departed for Georgia Tech. Actually Billy said a whole lot more than that and some bridges at UD weren’t just burned, they were blown to smithereens.

“As for some of Staten’s teammates, their issues were with him — and, among other things, the chemistry in the locker room — not his dad.”

The question of whether this father-son combination presented a problem that could flare up at West Virginia is worth addressing.

As best as it can be put together, Juwan and Billy Staten didn’t feel he was being used to his best by Gregory, even though he shot dismally and ran the club. But those kind of things happen and they did the right thing by transferring to Penn State rather than letting the situation simmer.

And when DeChellis exited, re-opening the recruitment of his son made sense, for he had no idea what system would be played.

Perhaps being as vocal as he was rather than remaining in the background hurt Billy Staten’s image, made him look like some kind of Svengali manipulating his son, but it doesn’t appear he led his son down any kind of wrong path.

Winding up playing for Bob Huggins at West Virginia seems to be a happy ending.

Certainly, as you may guess, Huggins isn’t concerned about dealing with Billy Staten.

“We recruit them and I deal with the kids. I never really have dealt with parents,” Huggins said.

Huggins admits he had one lady call him once.

She did not call back.

“And a lady called me this year and set up a meeting, but it never came off,” he said.

When you’ve won 670 games as Huggins has, you have an idea of how to coach kids without the help of their parents, guardians, friends or, for that matter, the media’s advice.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

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