Esa Ahmad Return Date Confirmed
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It has, indeed, become a happy new year for Bob Huggins and his West Virginia Mountaineers.
They opened the New Year by sweeping a Big 12 road trip to Oklahoma State and Kansas State. They then moved into the Top 5 in the nation in the polls.
And that wasn’t the best news.
The best news came out at about 3 p.m. on Tuesday when it was announced that the NCAA has cleared junior forward Esa Ahmad, suspended for the first half of the this season for violation of NCAA rules, to rejoin the team on Jan. 13 for the game at Texas Tech.
That the Mountaineers won 13 straight after losing their opener to Texas A&M without Ahmad is a tribute to the players who covered up his absence, young players like Teddy Allen and Wesley Harris filling the void.
Ahmad will be a key cog in the run toward the NCAA Tournament through the second half of January, February and into March.
A 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward from Cleveland, Ahmad averaged 11.3 points a game last season along with 4.3 rebounds and gives WVU a valuable defender, especially making the 1-3-1 zone coach Bob Huggins likes to use to change the flow of a game more effective.
It’s expected that he will slide into Harris’ spot in the starting lineup, giving WVU a lineup of Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. at the guards, sophomore Sagaba Konate at center and Ahmad and sophomore Lamont West at forward.
That gives an already strong bench even more pop. Not only with Allen, who scored 22 points off the bench and helped WVU defeat Kansas State, but another instant offense player in Beetle Bolden at guard, while it also allows Harris to come off the bench.
The depth is crucial for WVU’s aggressive defensive style leads to fouling, ranking 324th in the nation out of 351 teams.
The date of the return works perfectly, giving him a game to get the feel for things against the Red Raiders before WVU hosts Kansas and Texas in consecutive games at the Coliseum and meets Kentucky following a game against TCU.
WVU also is nearing the return of freshman point guard Brandon Knapper, who has been out with a knee problem, but has begun practicing. No date has yet been announced for his return, but that should give Jevon Carter some help at the point.
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West Virginia announced that its home game against Kansas State on Feb. 3 is a sellout.
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West Virginia University senior running back Justin Crawford has been selected to participate in the College Gridiron Showcase and Symposium from Jan. 6-10, in Addison, Texas, as announced Tuesday by the organization.
The 2018 College Gridiron Showcase & Symposium is the first all-star event of the 2018 college football postseason. The showcase and symposium provides exposure and education for top college senior football players from around the country.
The players are selected by a panel of football experts.
Players will come in for five days and four nights to be evaluated by professional football league scouts. The players will receive professional coaching, mentoring, life coaching and seminars that will benefit them as they move forward in their professional lives in or out of football.