FAIRMONT — Jevon Carter, the pride of West Virginia when it comes to the NBA, barely had a cup of coffee in the NBA Salt Lake City Summer League this past week as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. After having played just a single game in Salt Lake City, in which he scored eight points with four assists and three rebounds in 26 minutes, Carter was held out of the Grizzlies’ final two games before being shipped to the Phoenix Suns in a trade.
The trade will likely be made official today with the end of the NBA moratorium period, but it’s unclear if Carter will join the Suns’ roster for the Las Vegas Summer League, which started on Friday and will run through July 15.
Carter, who was drafted 32nd overall in the 2018 NBA Draft after a standout collegiate career with WVU, split time between the NBA and the G-League last season, playing 577 total minutes over 39 games with the Grizzlies and 759 minutes in 22 games with the Grizzlies’ G-League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle. Carter averaged 4.4 points and 1.8 assists a game on 30 percent shooting in the NBA, while posting an average of 18.4 points, 5.9 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 steals a game during his 22 games in the G-League.
Even if Carter doesn’t appear with the Suns during the Las Vegas Summer League due to his recent transaction, there are other ties to West Virginia littered across the 30 rosters.
Thomas Wimbush, Atlanta Hawks
Co-starring alongside Matt Bingaya, Wimbush took Fairmont State’s program to the pinnacle of Division II basketball as a senior during the 2016-17 season as the Falcons advanced to the NCAA National Championship in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, before falling to Missouri State.
A rangy 6-foot-7 combo forward out of Lorain, Ohio, Wimbush finished his four-year Fairmont State career with 1,719 points, which ranks in the Top 20 in school history, and 99 blocks, which ranks in the Top 10. As a senior with the Falcons, Wimbush averaged 15.9 points on 47 percent shooting, including 35 percent from deep, to go with 6.6 rebounds a game. He was named first team All-MEC and second team All-Atlantic Region and garnered spots on the MEC and Atlantic Region all-tournament teams during postseason play. Wimbush started a whopping 121 games at FSU during his four-year career.
Upon graduation, Wimbush was selected with the fouth overall pick by the Long Island Nets of the G-League, where he’s played each of the last two seasons. He’s averaged 8.5 points and 6.7 rebounds in 18.5 minutes a game the past two seasons combined with Long Island. Wimbush’s crowning moment during his G-League career to this point came in last season’s playoffs, where Long Island advanced to the G-League championship before falling to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. During Long Island’s five-game run, Wimbush posted 16.6 points and 6.7 rebounds a game on 50.8 percent shooting, including exploding for a career-high 28 points to go with 12 rebounds in the team’s 108-106 overtime victory in the conference finals.
Wimbush, who played in six games with the Clippers in last year’s Las Vegas Summer League, will make his debut with the Hawks today at 5 p.m. against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Sagaba Konate, Toronto Raptors
A defensive menace with WVU, Konate finished his three-year tenure with the Mountaineers as the program’s all-time leader in blocks at 191 before leading WVU fans on a goose chase each of the past two years as he flirted with leaving school early for a pro career. Konate pulled the trigger on opting for the NBA draft this spring after an injury-plagued junior season.
He went undrafted before signing a deal with the Toronto Raptors on June 21 as part of the team’s summer league roster.
Konate’s limitations as a potential NBA player have been well chronicled the past two years due to the draft speculation surrounding him. At just 6-foot-8, he’s undersized for an NBA center, and his raw offensive skill set doesn’t allow for much positional malleability.
While at WVU, however, Konate, a native of Bamako, Mali, morphed into a force as a sophomore, when he averaged 10.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.2 blocks in 25.4 minutes a game. The campaign earned Konate All-Big 12 third team honors and Big 12 All-Defense recognition. He appeared in eight games for WVU as a junior after battling a lingering knee injury.
Konate and the Raptors will debut in the Las Vegas Summer League Sunday at noon.
Jon Elmore, Boston Celtics
One of Marshall’s all-time hardwood legends, Elmore finished his career with the Thundering Herd as the program’s all-time scoring leader, passing Skip Henderson on March 19. In fact, Elmore’s 2,638 career points and 783 career assists makes him the only Division I player in history to surpass the combined threshold of 2,500 career points and 750 career assists.
Elmore, a West Virginia native from George Washington High School, made his name as a pick-and-roll maestro within Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni’s up-tempo attack, a player who compensated for his sub-par physical gifts with highwire 3s and elite passing vision and versatility. Elmore, who canned 356 treys during his Marshall career, entered the national collegiate spotlight as a junior when the No. 13-seeded Thundering Herd upset No. 4-seeded Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament's Round of 64. Elmore finished the game with 27 points, four assists and four rebounds.
Elmore, who went undrafted this season, tweeted his spot on the Boston Celtics’ summer league roster on June 27, with Elmore having worked out for the Celtics in the lead up to the NBA draft. Elmore and the Celtics will tip-off the Las Vegas Summer League today at 5:30 p.m. against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Tarik Phillip, Washington Wizards
Every so often, there will be a player who hovers around the NBA landscape — or even makes it into the league — far longer than one would have expected based on their collegiate careers.
Phillip, a former WVU guard, is a prime example as he enters summer league with the Washington Wizards after signing a non-guaranteed deal for the 2019-20 season with the organization in April. Phillip, who went undrafted out of WVU in 2017, never even averaged double-digit scoring during his three-career with the Mountaineers, topping out with 9.5 points and 3.0 assists per game in the 2016-17 season.
But after playing overseas in Hungary and Spain, where he averaged 7.4 points in 42 games, Phillip returned to the states in the G-League as a member of the Memphis Hustle in the 2018-19 season. Phillip showed out on the G-League stage, averaging 29 minutes in 48 games while posting 13.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game on 47 percent shooting.
Phillip, who’ll turn 26 in August, will make his Las Vegas Summer League debut today at 10 p.m. when the Wizards play the New Orleans Pelicans.
Tanner McGrew, Utah Jazz
Once a walk-on at West Virginia Wesleyan College, where he received a trombone scholarship as a graduate of Buckhannon-Upshur High School, McGrew’s journey to the NBA stage has been staggering.
After walking on for then-WVWC coach Pat Beilein, McGrew grew into a star for the Bobcats in last two seasons, earning back-to-back first team All-MEC honors. As a junior, McGrew led the county in rebound at 12.2 a a game to go with a 15.9 scoring average. Then as a senior, those numbers ballooned to 22.6 points and 12.3 rebounds a game.
McGrew, a 6-foot-8 combo forward who’ll turn 26 on July 12, didn’t get a sniff of NBA buzz upon graduation as a former walk-on a D-II school in West Virginia. He went overseas for a pro career, where traveled the globe, playing professionally in Australia, Denmark and France over the course of the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
Preparing to continue his playing career in Europe for the 2018-19 season, according to The Athletic, McGrew’s connections in the game got a him a chance with the Memphis Hustle of the G-League. Splitting time between the Memphis Hustle and the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s G-League affiliate, McGrew averaged 7.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 46 games last season.
On June 27, the Salt Lake City Stars’ Twitter account tweeted McGrew’s spot on the Jazz’s summer league roster, which was one of eight teams to play in the Salt Lake City Summer League from July 1-3. McGrew appeared in two games in the Salt Lake Summer League, scoring 12 points to go with six assists and four rebounds. McGrew and the Jazz will continue summer league action today at 3 p.m. against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Haywood Highsmith, Philadelphia 76ers
A double-double machine at Wheeling Jesuit University of the MEC, Highsmith is the lone player of the this group to have garnered actual NBA minutes to this point in his career.
Highsmith, a 22-year-old, 6-foot-8 forward, made his NBA debut on Jan. 9 after signing a two-way contract with the Sixers on the very same day. Highsmith, who was named an NCAA Division II All-American his senior season at Wheeling Jesuit where averaged 22 points and 12.6 rebounds a game, played 40 minutes over five games with the Sixers last season, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds.
Highsmith finished his collegiate career at Wheeling Jesuit with 1,938 points and 1,243 rebounds en route to earning the 2018 MEC Player of the Year, a pair of All-MEC first team honors and an All-MEC second team honor.
He started his professional career last season in the G-League as a member of the Sixers’ affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. Highsmith appeared in 46 games with the Blue Coats, averaging 12.2 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.
Highsmith and the Sixers made their Las Vegas Summer League debut on Friday in a 107-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Highsmith scored nine points with three rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes. The Sixers will play again today at 5:30 p.m. against the Boston Celtics.