Mountaineer Notebook – NBA Draft’s Mystery Man, Coliseum Statues And More
The mystery man in this year’s college draft is West Virginia’s Jevon Carter.
Some think he could go as high as the middle of the first round, some see him in the second round and some wonder if his offensive skills are high enough to be drafted.
His college coach, Bob Huggins, admits he’s not sure where he will go but he certainly believes he belongs in the NBA … and has been proving it every chance he’s gotten since his college career ended this year.
“I know they say there are not a lot of guards going to be taken in the first round and I’m looking at the guys they say are going in the first round and I’m going ‘I can’t imagine anyone who knows anything about basketball would take some of those guys before they take J.C.,” he said.
“That’s providing they need a guard. Obviously, those guys are really wrong if the guys they are saying are going to teams that don’t need a guard.”
Carter’s defense and energy have certainly been observable.
“He’s destroyed everyone he’s faced in workouts, to the point a lot of guys won’t go when they find out he’s here. It’s to the point their agents find out he’s going to be there and they call and cancel.
“That’s a lot of respect.”
It isn’t exactly that he has completely overwhelmed the scouts and general managers, though.
“Guys know,” Huggins said. “It’s the NBA guys who kind of sit there and have a tendency to pick out guys and talk about the things maybe they don’t do. They don’t think J.C. shot it as consistently as they would have liked for him to. But if you know him at all, he’s going to continue to get better and better, because he’s going to work at it.”
Perhaps the most dynamic change in college athletics this year is one that has nothing to do with the way they play the game … or at least they hope it doesn’t.
The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed states to become legal bookmakers and take bets on college athletic contests, something the colleges once fought vehemently but now have not only accepted but are negotiating to get their “fair share” of the money bet.
Huggins was asked if the legalized gambling would cause any changes in the way things are done in his program, considering the fact that basketball previously has had point-shaving scandals and that people will try to infiltrate the program for inside information, especially on injuries.
“Listen,” said Huggins, “I went to school here so I know what was going on here in the ‘70s. All they did was make it legal.”
True, Vegas has long had gambling and parlay cards and illegal bookmakers have operated almost in the open, but the morality we had in our society fought against legalizing sports gambling.
“We weren’t allowed to drink at one time, either. I think the government got to thinking it would rather make money than the criminals. I think it’s coming in a lot of areas, right, wrong or indifferent,” he said.
Certainly we’ve seen sweeping societal changes in morality with the legalization in many states of recreational marijuana in addition to medical marijuana and the abortion issue will ever stop being debated.
“There’s a lot of stuff, I don’t know. You can argue it’s good or bad, but it’s reality,” Huggins said, finally coming to the point. “I don’t see how it affects me and I don’t see how it affects our guys. It probably affects our guys less being legal than being illegal.”
Tim Griffin, longtime writer of Big 12 news, recently began his story on the conference this year giving out a record $364.87 million revenue payout to its 10 member schools, an average of $36.4 million per school, this way:
“West Virginia athletic director Gordon Gee left the Big 12 meetings in Irving, Texas, on Friday with a big smile, almost skipping to his departing flight.”
Certainly the school president appreciates the promotion to the far higher position of athletic director.
The record payout, with WVU said in some quarters to be getting $45 million from the league, surely now will lead to lower ticket and concession prices, as well to a clamor to build a statue for one-time Mountaineer quarterback Oliver Luck, who as athletic director before Gee apparently took the job, engineered the move to the Big 12 from the failing Big East.
Speaking of statues, Huggins is all in favor of a statue of Rod Thorn, now that he is going into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The one-time Mountaineer All-American who became an NBA player, coach and executive — but never athletic director — would join Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley with statues at the Coliseum, if they get a movement going and find some money to finance it.
Perhaps the NBA would be willing to split the cost, as the Utah team did with Hundley’s and the Memphis team did with West’s.
Huggins envisions a statue at each entrance eventually and while he didn’t say it, as he spoke, he seemed to be posing in a pullover while on stool.
As he took a moment off from the weekend WVU Basketball Fantasy Camp to chat with the media, Huggs was asked what piece of memorabilia that he possessed meant the most to him.
It proved to be a difficult question.
“I had a collection of framed uniforms of the guys I had at Cincinnati up on the wall when I was there, but I don’t even know what happened to it, I’ve moved so much,” Huggins said. “It was a great conversation piece.”
Huggins maintains he’s just not into that right now.
“I guess it depends on the day,” he said. “I’m not very nostalgic. I got enough to do. Maybe when I quit it will mean a lot more. All the talk about a rearview mirror that I do, it’s true. I really move forward and don’t look back much.”