News, Notes & Rumors – April 30
The question of “Will he or won’t he?” isn’t completely answered, but Mountaineer men’s basketball coaches are starting to breathe a little easier.
When Sagaba Konate announced last month that he declaring for the NBA draft, initially most thought it was just to test the waters, get some feedback from professional coaches and scouts, and that the Mountaineer center would return for his junior season next year.
But then came concern that Konate was seriously considering remaining in the NBA draft pool, even though few thought he was any better than a late second round draft pick this year.
Now reason seems to be settling back in with Sagaba, and West Virginia’s coaches believe again that the shotblocker extraordinaire from Mali is going to be back at WVU for the 2018-19 season.
Konate hasn’t yet hired an agent, and thus is still eligible to pull back out of the NBA draft and return to college. He has until June 11 to make a final decision, but unlike a couple weeks ago when there was genuine concern that Sagaba had played his final game in a Blue & Gold uniform, the belief now is he’ll be back for another season.
* * * * * *
Former West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard has never been afraid to take a chance on himself. He left his first college, Stephen F. Austin, to try to find bigger things via the junior college route. That worked out when a stint at Riverside City College led him to West Virginia, where he ultimately became WVU’s starting QB for 29 games. He finished his career in 2016 third in Mountaineer history in passing yards (7,302) and second in passing TDs (60).
His NFL dreams didn’t work out last year. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Seattle Seahawks, but was waived before the start of preseason camp.
Now he’s getting another chance to play professional football, though in a unique location. The Obic Seagulls of Japan’s X-League recently announced the signing of Howard. Based in Narashino, the Seagulls are the most successful team (eight championships) in the X-League, which was formed in 1971. Most X-League teams do have some American players on their rosters, though League rules stipulate that no more than two American players can be on the field for a team at any one time.
Howard is the second former Mountaineer who has signed with an overseas football team. J.D. Woods, who was a wide receiver for WVU from 2009-12, is slated to spend the upcoming season with the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes of the German Football League.
* * * * * *
Another former Mountaineer has a new job. Marcell Lazard recently was hired as the defensive line coach at Pace University.
Lazard was an offensive tackle for WVU from 2012-16, before taking a graduate transfer to Boston College last summer. He wound up playing in all 13 games for the Eagles in 2017, starting two contests as BC finished with a 7-6 record.
Now he’s moving on to the coaching ranks, joining the Setters, who are a Division II program located in Pleasantville, N.Y., which is just north of Manhattan.
Lazard won’t be the only member of the Pace football program with West Virginia ties. David Grant, Jr., is a senior linebacker for the Setters. His father, David Grant, Sr., was an excellent defensive lineman for WVU in the ‘80s who went on to play five seasons in the NFL.
* * * * * *
Bob Huggins has one verbal commitment for his WVU basketball recruiting class of 2019.
Miles McBride is a 6-foot-1 guard from Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, who committed to West Virginia this past December, midway through his junior season.
McBride also was regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in the state of Ohio, but an injury last fall ended his football season before it hardly started.
Now McBride has decided to give up football completely and concentrate on basketball.
“The game of football has truly taught me a lot,” McBride said via Twitter. “The friendships and memories that I have made will last forever. I have decided that I will not play my senior year and will be 100% focused on bringing another hoops championship back to the Big Moe. Please respect my decision.”
His foot injury kept McBride off the basketball court for most of his junior season as well. He did return for Moeller’s final two basketball games in March, including scoring 14 points in the Crusaders’ 83-65 state championship victory Solon to cap off a 32-3 season.