Column: Does Juwan Staten compare to De’Sean Butler?


When you think back to the 2010 West Virginia team that made a run to the Final Four, one player that probably comes to mind is De’Sean Butler.

Butler played for West Virginia from 2006-2010 and a brief stint in the NBA, but never really found traction following an ACL tear in the Final Four game against Duke in 2010.

During his time at West Virginia, Butler provided the Mountaineers with so many memorial plays as he often came up big when it mattered most.

Mar 22, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers guard Juwan Staten (3) speaks during a press conference after the game against the Maryland Terrapins in the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena. West Virginia won 69-59. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2010 Big East Tournament, Butler successfully made two game-winning baskets. The first in the opening round, hitting a bank shot with no time remaining to defeat Cincinnati and then in then again int he Championship game to down No. 22 Georgetown.

This year’s West Virginia team is one win away from another Elite Eight appearence. They will have a huge task ahead of them as they go up against the No. 1 overall seed, undefeated Kentucky.

When everything is all said and done, whether the Mountaineers upset Kentucky or not, when you think back to this 2015 team, the player who will most likely come to mind with be senior point guard, Juwan Staten.

Since transferring from Dayton, Staten has been making noise at West Virginia. Last season is when he really began to spread his wings, but this season he’s solidified himself as one of the most memorable players that West Virginia has ever had.

Nominated for many different honors, including the Wooden Award, Staten is one of the best point guards in the nation.

He’s battled injuries this season. A knee injury prevented him from playing in four games, including the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, a game in which West Virginia lost to Baylor for the third time this season. Staten’s absence was felt in that game as well as the other three.

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While he’s led the team in scoring all season, I don’t think you can consider him one of the best scoring point guards in the nation. It’s what he’s able to do, besides score, that makes him so special and crucial to this West Virginia team.

His leadership has been monumental. With a roster filled with new faces and young players, Staten’s leadership has proven to keep all these guys in check.

Head coach Bob Huggins says he’s led by example all season long.

“He’s been such a great leader by example because he puts time in and he’s a guy that loves being in a gym, who’s in a gym all the time, and Gary’s (Browne) the same way,” said Huggins. “I’ve got two seniors that they’re in the gym constantly, and when your senior leaders are in there, then I think everybody else has a tendency to follow.”

Huggins also believes that Staten knows what he wants and knows what West Virginia basketball is all about.

Jan 11, 2014; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers guard Juwan Staten (3) stands with head coach Bob Huggins during a break in play during the second half at WVU Coliseum. Oklahoma State Cowboys defeated West Virginia Mountaineers 73-72. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

“I think Wanny has really tried to figure out what I want done and kind of when I want those things done,” said Huggins. “I mean, he studied film, he really has become a student of the game.”

Staten said that it took him until this season to really pin point the mindset of his head coach.

“It took me three years because just when you think you’ve got him figured out, he comes with something else,” said Staten.

But, with advancing to the Sweet 16, it would appear Staten and the rest of the troops have figured out what it takes to play for Huggins and that’s something Butler and company certainly solved as well.

When you look at the two, Staten and Butler, it’s easy to say that Butler was more talent, and he was. He has a lot more clutch moments to his name, but Staten has had his fair share of game-saving doings — the game-winning layup versus Kansas this season comes to mind.

When I break these two players down, I break down their loyalty, their dedication and their ability to lead.

Butler played hero on more occasions, but he was also one of Huggins’ main guys. He understood his role and knew how to take control of the guys around him. Staten’s the same way, he’s a floor general who’s been molded from his coach.

If you want it bad enough, you never stop until you get that approval,” said Staten. “Just watching film, listening to the things that he says the most, and trying to reiterate that to my teammates, and just trying to be more like him.

“And if that means just studying him when he’s not watching, seeing how he reacts to certain plays or seeing how he reacts to things that happen on the court, and then mimicking it. Whatever it takes to be a replica of the coach.”

From a statical, or athletic standpoint, Butler edges out Staten, but as a leader both men are high on the food chain. When you think back to 2010 and 2015 West Virginia basketball, these are the two men that ought to come to mind.