Konate’s Decision Made, Carter’s Destination Still To Be Determined
West Virginia sophomore men’s basketball player Sagaba Konate decided to pull his name out of this year’s NBA Draft and return to WVU for another year. But Mountaineer senior point guard Jevon Carter still remains very much on the NBA radar.
Konate and Carter each tested their pro potential at the NBA Combine in Chicago last week.
As a senior, Carter has no decisions to make. He now continues a tour of NBA teams while hoping his performances at the Combine and throughout his four years at West Virginia catch the eye of an NBA team, one who will find him worthy of a pick when the NBA Draft is held on June 21.
Konate on the other hand had a tough choice to make, and he eventually decided to return to WVU for at least one more season. The sophomore had not hired an agent, which meant he was eligible to return to the college ranks after testing the NBA waters. While the NBA has a self-imposed deadline of June 11 to pull out of the draft, the NCAA actually has a different deadline for a player to retain his college eligibility. Any player who has not hired an agent has until 11:59 p.m. on May 30 to remove their name from draft consideration if they want to play for their college team in the future. Konate didn’t wait until the final moment, making the decision to pull out of the draft on May 24.
West Virginia hasn’t had a player draft by the NBA since 2010 Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks were second-round selection, but they have had others test the waters in recent years and then returned, like Esa Ahmad did this year, Carter did last year and Kevin Jones did before that.
While Konate’s draft status this year was up in the air, most expect Carter will hear his name called at some point in this year’s two-round draft, which features a total of 60 selections. At the Combine, Carter measured 6-foot-1.5 with shoes (there’s also a barefoot measurement that basically subtracts an inch of height, but until I see a college or pro player in game action without shoes, I’m not bothering with the barefoot height). He was 196.2 pounds and had a wingspan of 6-foot-4.25. His shuttle time of 3.04 was the best of any point guard present at this year’s Combine.
As for Konate, he measured 6-foot-7.5 and 246 pounds with a wingspan of 7-foot. He was the shortest center at the Combine, but his vertical of 35.0 inches was bettered by just one other center.
Besides tape measures, scales and stopwatches, the NBA Combine also had a scrimmage component where participants played five-on-five games. It’s during these that Carter impressed the most.
“I think Carter did pretty well for himself at the Combine,” said Chris Stone, who covers the NBA draft and college basketball for The Sporting News and several other media outlets. “He didn’t measure particularly well. He’s not particularly tall, but he did show the mental toughness that you would expect after what you saw from him the last four years at West Virginia. He was elite during the scrimmages. The third possession in, he was picking people up defensively at 94 feet, which is what got Bob Huggins to recruit him to West Virginia in the first place.”
On the other hand, Konate probably didn’t help himself during scrimmage opportunities. While he had a couple impressive blocks, he didn’t necessarily stand out in other areas.
West Virginia’s all-time steals leader with 330 thefts, Carter, who also averaged 17.3 points a game this past season, could be moving up the draft board.
“He’s someone who has positioned himself well to be drafted,” Stone said of the point guard from Maywood, Ill. “It will be interesting to see if he can make a push to get into the back end of the first round. Right now I would expect him to be an early to middle second-round selection, but there’s an off chance that a team with a late first-round pick could look at him as someone who could contribute right away and could bring some value as a rookie. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if he moved into the back end of the top 30.
“Depending on the team he ends up with will determine his role,” added Stone. “But you could view him as a Patrick Beverley (currently with the Clippers) or a Matthew Dellavedova (currently with Milwaukee), a sort of three-and-D point guard. He can operate off the bench and provide immediate help defensively and also has the ability to hit some perimeter shots.”
Konate’s decision to return to college for his junior year comes after reports from many pro basketball observers that his performance at the recent NBA Combine didn’t justify a first-round draft pick.
“He was really mediocre in the scrimmages,” said Stone of Konate. “You saw the energy and rim protection he displayed at West Virginia, but in terms of the offense, there are still questions as to where he fits in at the NBA level. He tries to play a little beyond his skill set. He puts up too many mid-range jumpers and tries to do too much with the ball in the post. He needs to develop as a roller to the basket and a finisher, rather than someone who tries to be an offensive hub.”
Stone added that Konate may not have even been a second-round pick in this year’s draft, though he could improve his stock with another year of improvement at the college level.
“He’s someone who could leave now and potentially be drafted,” concluded Stone of Konate. “Or he could go back to school, try to improve his offensive game and see if he’s a first-rounder next year.”