Konate To Test NBA Waters, Will Not Hire Agent
MORGANTOWN — Sagaba Konate, who figured to be the centerpiece of Bob Huggins’ 2018-19 West Virginia basketball team, announced on Tuesday that he plays to enter the NBA Draft without signing with an agent.
West Virginia center Sagaba Konate with a dunk.That leaves the door open for the college game’s top shot-blocker to return next season after he gets input from the league as to where he might go in the draft and what his game needs to take it to the next level.
It is exactly what Jevon Carter did last year, deciding to return and play his senior season in which he became one of the Mountaineers’ most decorated players, earning a second consecutive National Defensive Player of the Year Award as well as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, third team All-American and a unanimous Big 12 selection.
Two years ago, Devin Williams also entered the draft and decided to turn professional but went undrafted.
Konate, who will be a junior next season if he elects to return, made the announcement of his decision via Twitter.
“After talking with my family and coaches I have decided to declare for the 2018 NBA without an agent.. excited to learn more about developing my game. The sky is the limit,” read the tweet.
Huggins took the news stoically.
“Sags will go through the NBA Draft procedures in a systematic and professional manner by exploring the situation and leaving open his option to return,” Huggins said in a release by the school.
Konate’s development as a sophomore was monumental, taking huge strides on the offensive end of the court while using increased strength built up in the off-season to continue his improvement as a rebounder and shot blocker.
Is he ready for the NBA?
Probably not, especially emotionally as he often found himself getting involved in on-court situations leading to incidents or technical fouls, twice this year actually sneaking into the opponent’s huddle on the sideline.
Assistant coach Erik Martin, who handles WVU’s big men and did a great job of helping Konate mature as a player, told MetroNews that Konate was making a smart decision by letting the NBA evaluate him.
“It makes sense because Sags had a great year,” Martin said. “Plus, Sags is intriguing because he hasn’t played basketball that long. I think this will give you an idea of what you need to work on to get to the next level.”
Blessed with great athleticism and timing to go with his 6-foot, 8-inch frame, the native of Mali went from 4.1 points a game as a freshman to 10.8 this year, showing a deadly jump hook shot and accurate free throw shooting.
His free throw percentage jumped from 63 percent to 78 percent while he also displayed range on his jump shot, being able to move out to about 17 feet.
He also went from 2.8 rebounds a game to 7.6 and would be expected to break double figures in this department if he returns.
At the same time he had television commentators and opponents raving over his shot-blocking ability, finishing second in Division 1 ball with 116 blocks, many of them of highlight-reel material, elevating straight up and often blocking shots with two hands.
Konate has until June 11 to withdraw from the draft if he plans to return to WVU next season.