West Virginia Basketball: Daxter Miles Jr. picking up where Staten left off


Two weeks ago, distress fell over No. 18 West Virginia as senior guard Juwan Staten was ruled out against Baylor due to a knee injury he sustained against Texas.

His status remains uncertain for the time being and when he went down, it looked as if the Mountaineer’s next few crucial Big 12 games were in jeopardy.

In comes freshman Daxter Miles Jr.

Already starting every game so far, Miles has played a key role for the Mountaineers offensively and defensively, but remained in the shadows of Staten and briefly Jevon Carter who was playing at a high level during a stretch of games.

Head coach Bob Huggins believes that Miles is still learning and so is his veteran leader, Staten.

“I think he (Staten) and Daxter are still learning,” Huggins said. “They’re up in the film room more than anyone. Watching what we need them to do.”

Mar 7, 2015; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers guard Daxter Miles Jr. (4) makes a shot against Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Phil Forte III (13) during the second half at WVU Coliseum. The Mountaineers won 81-72. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Miles only averaged 6.5 points per game and never played more than 30 minutes for the first 28 games, but his role changed drastically in these last three games.

The last three regular season games were against tough Big 12 opponents and most believed the Mountaineers wouldn’t stand a chance without Staten and the also injured senior guard Gary Browne.

Miles took this as a challenge, though and with a very young team, showed the country and the Big 12 that the Mountaineers can be a force to be reckoned with during the conference tournament.

Even though West Virginia lost their last two out of three games, they showed maturity and character as they battled every minute.

Aside from the blowout loss to Baylor, this team without it’s two key senior guards took No. 9 Kansas down to the wire, losing in overtime and beat Oklahoma State in Morgantown. With young talent like Miles, Carter, and Tarik Phillip carrying the load, it shows a lot of promise for the post-season and seasons to come.

Most fans saw the inexperience and youth as a potential downfall to the West Virginia’s season. Staten had put up incredible numbers and could have been in contention for the player of the year. With his recent injury this left big shoes to fill for a freshman, but Miles has stepped in without missing a beat.

In the past three games, Miles carried the Mountaineers as he averaged 16.3 points per game, shot 50 percent from the field, and 45 percent from three point range. A huge difference in what he was putting up toward the beginning of the season.

Miles chalks it all up to confidence.

“Confidence, I had it in me, but I don’t know I wasn’t really aggressive enough at the beginning,” Miles said following the win over Oklahoma State. “Coaches have been telling me to shoot the ball more. As long as I play defense it doesn’t matter about shooting.”

“As long as you play defense, I’ll get my shots. Just elevating and working in the gym everyday.”

With the Big 12 tournament on the horizon and no time-table for Staten and Browne’s return, Miles can continue to make his mark on his freshman season and help the Mountaineer continue their quest for a conference and national title.

“We want to win,” said Miles. “We want to win the Big 12 and want to go as far as we can go in the NCAA (Tournament). We’re ready to go.”

The spotlight is now on this young freshman and the future is very bright for he and the Mountaineers.