Fresh off a breakout season that resulted in a first team All-Big 12 selection and garnered plenty of attention in the national spotlight, West Virginia junior guard Juwan Staten is faced with a decision that will impact his life and career for years to come.
With a year of eligibility left, the general assumption surrounding the situation is Staten will likely return to Morgantown for another season under the tutelage of head coach Bob Huggins.
A few weeks ago, however, there wasn’t even a discussion to be had. Staten appeared to be a lock to come back. Now that he has announced his plans to test the NBA Draft waters, the situation has become a bit more complicated.
Huggins seems to be in between a rock and a hard place in this scenario. From the outside, it would make sense for him to try to do everything in his power to keep his best player around. On the other hand, as a head coach and a mentor, he has a responsibility to counsel his players on what would truly be best for them.
Despite being faced with such a complicated scenario, Huggins said he will do everything in his power to advise Staten, no matter what decision he ends up making.
“I don’t blame him for testing the waters. I just want him to make good decisions. That’s all, because it’s a huge decision to leave,” Huggins said.
In many cases when players are considering leaving early, the idea of finishing their education can be a motivating factor toward staying in school. For Staten, that won’t be the case.
“(Juwan) will have his degree, (so) it’s not about education,” Huggins said.
In the coming weeks, Huggins said he will reach out to the NBA to see what kind of interest the league’s general managers have in Staten, which will make his decision to stay or go a bit easier.
“We can send a form in to the NBA. They get back to you pretty quickly. They poll general managers,” Huggins said. “In my experience, they’ve been very accurate in what they give us.”
Huggins said while playing in the NBA is a dream for most if not all players at any level, he knows the experience of playing in college is completely unique.
“There is nothing like playing college basketball. You talk to those guys, and I have, who came right out of high school. And what they always say is ‘Man, what I really missed was that college experience,’” he said.
Having played such a big role in the history of basketball at WVU, Huggins said leaving a legacy on a program is something that will last a lifetime.
“How great is it to walk back in to the Coliseum and see the banners that you raised? There is nothing like it,” he said.
“Some of those guys from the Final Four year talk about bringing their kids in there and saying, ‘Look what I was a part of.’ There is nothing like that.”
With the outcome of this season fresh in his mind, Staten may have some doubt about the possibility of raising any banners in 2015. The only way to find out, however, would be to return for another year.
If he does decide to return, Huggins said Staten will become a more polished player in his senior season.
“I think as his understanding becomes better, he can do a lot more things. Getting the ball to the right guy at the right time, that will get better,” Huggins said.
“I think he’ll shoot it much better a year from now. I think he’ll shoot with more range, because he’ll put the time in.”