West Virginia junior guard Juwan Staten became the first Mountaineer to score at least 35 points in a game since Da’Sean Butler scored 43 against Villanova in February 2009.
Staten was special, scoring a career-high 35 points, grabbing four rebounds and totaling five assists against Kansas State Saturday.
But after watching Staten day in and day out this year, a performance like that wasn’t shocking. He’s been a strong contender this season for WVU.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had anybody else ever like him,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “The kid cares, and he works. He puts time in. He studies film. He wants to be a really good player.
“I’m really proud of him, really proud of the fact that he hasn’t backed off. He kind of has turned into what a lot of the other guys that ended up being great players had.”
Staten is having a statistically solid single season. He’s having the best year any Mountaineer has had since Butler graduated.
It doesn’t make sense to compare Staten’s career with Butler’s because Butler had a fantastic four years in Morgantown, but just looking at one season, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Staten is having as good of a season as Butler’s best season.
In 22 games, Staten averages 37 minutes on the court per game. In the 2009-10 season, Butler played 35.8 minutes per game.
Staten is averaging 18 points per game while Butler averaged 17.2 points per game. There isn’t much disparity in those two columns of stat logs.
What’s different is Staten is shooting 52 percent from the field compared to Butler who shot 41 percent from the field. Staten is more efficient with the ball.
Staten is on top or near the top of the Big 12 Conference in just about every statistical category.
He is the league’s second-leading scorer, third in field goal percentage and has the most assists. He also leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Butler didn’t finish in the top five in any major offensive state category of the Big East Conference that season, but was named a Second Team All-American by the Associated Press and was a 1st Team All-Conference choice.
However, most will draw the line between Butler and Staten with the fact Butler played on a Final Four team.
On that team, Butler hit shot after shot in order to get the Mountaineers there.
“Everyone wants to look back at 2010 winning 31 games and going to the Final Four, but let’s be honest, De’Sean (Butler) made seven game-winning shots. If Da’Sean doesn’t make seven game-winning shots, maybe we win 24 games instead of 31,” Huggins said. “Then nobody is all goo-goo about us.”
The debate is interesting, because in so many ways there is an argument for Staten, but the overwhelming one is Butler played the biggest role on a Final Four team.
West Virginia has nine games left and cling to the slim hope an NCAA tournament bid is a possibility.
If Staten can put the team in a position to win most of those games, then this debate will be magnified.
“I’ll tell him ‘Get out of practice man, we need to save your legs,’ and you turn around then he’s right back in the gym,” Huggins said. “He’s in early and stays late. He’s the kind of guy that you hope has success, because he’s earned it.”