The WVU basketball team needs a big man for the upcoming season. If Elijah Macon can improve this offseason, he can be just what the Mountaineers need down low.
It took Macon a while to get to Morgantown, after his heralded high school career at Huntington Prep. He played a year at Brewster Academy prep school and sat out one season before officially joining the Mountaineers for the 2014-15 season.
If that is any indication, Macon just may be a late bloomer for the WVU basketball team.
He has played the past two seasons, but has yet to really crack the starting lineup. In the past two seasons, Macon only has two starts despite appearing in 68 total games.
That will change in 2017.
Macon will have to step up and be the team’s big man in place of Devin Williams. Or, Macon’s length could come into play as a defensive specialist like Jonathan Holton was a year ago.
The Mountaineers would like to keep up their Press Virginia moniker that has swept the nation, and Macon will be a key part in that for next season.
Defensively, Macon had 16 blocks last season, which was second on the team behind Holton who had 19. In both seasons combined, Macon has 32 blocks. He also recorded 16 his freshman year.
Macon’s contributions for his junior season need to come on offense.
In his 35 games last season, Macon only averaged 4.5 points per game. He averaged just 13.2 minutes per game and he shot 52-percent from the field.
That mark made him one of the better shooters on the team. Macon’s troubles, though, stem from an inability to handle the ball. His lack of ballhandling skills was evident as he created too many turnovers, himself, in the paint.
He had 33 turnovers and 18 assists last season. Both numbers will rise this season as Macon sees even more playing time. He might even crack the starting lineup because the Mountaineers are short on depth at forward and center.
Because of the departures of Holton and Williams, Macon and Brandon Watkins will be the only two natural big men on the team.
Of course there is 6-foot-9, 240-pound Nathan Adrian. He is more of an inside-out player who has a knack for shooting the long ball. Macon and Williams were the only two players last season who did not attempt a 3-pointer for the Mountaineers.
The WVU basketball team will also see the emergence of Lamont West an incoming freshman Maciej Bender.
If the Mountaineers are not expecting a drop off from last season’s Big 12 runner-up finish, they’ll need Macon to duplicate the production of both Williams and Holton. The other forward pieces will fall into place, but Macon needs to grow into the sure-fire prospect he was heralded as a few years ago.