The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

March 31, 2014

Staten’s return huge for Mountaineers

Less than a week after being dealt a big blow with the announcement that sophomore guard Eron Harris was leaving the program, the West Virginia University basketball team got a big shot in the arm late Saturday night when junior point guard Juwan Staten announced that he will return for his senior season instead of entering the NBA draft.

“After talking to my parents and Coach (Bob) Huggins, I have decided to return to West Virginia University for my senior season,” said Staten in a release from WVU. “It has always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA and a dream of mine to hear my name called as a lottery pick in the NBA draft. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I have a good feeling about playing my senior season at WVU.”

Staten’s return is huge for Huggins, whose team finished 17-16 this season, missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year after making the “Big Dance” in each of his first five seasons at WVU. It was the first time since Huggins’ first two seasons at Cincinnati in 1990 and 1991 that his team missed the tournament in back-to-back seasons.

“I have a lot of respect for Coach Huggins and the basketball staff,” said Staten, who will play his third season in Morgantown after transferring from Dayton. “I have never been to the NCAA Tournament, and I want to get Coach Huggins and my teammates back to the NCAA Tournament.

“Since I have been at West Virginia, I have fallen in love with the fans and the entire state of West Virginia. I love the state and this University, and I certainly want to give back to the fans for my fifth season.”

After an up-and-down sophomore season in Morgantown — Staten averaged 7.6 points and 3.3 assists on a WVU team that finished 13-19 — the 190-pound guard had a huge junior campaign, leading the Big 12 in scoring with 18.1 points per game and finishing second in assists with 5.85 per contest.

The 6-foot-1 guard was 19th in rebounding with 5.6 boards per game and second in assist-to-turnover ratio with a 2.80 ratio.

“Juwan’s improvement from his sophomore season to his junior season this year was unbelievable,” said Huggins. “He became the first player in school history to score more than 500 points, dish out more than 150 assists and grab more than 150 rebounds in a season. His work ethic is second to none, and I know Juwan will put in the time in the practice facility in the offseason to improve his game even more.

“We are thrilled and excited to have Juwan return for his senior season. We are looking forward to coaching and helping Juwan achieve every goal that he has set for himself and for the team.”

Staten will be part of an experienced group returning for the Mountaineers. WVU didn’t have a single senior on this year’s roster and, aside from Harris, is expected to return the rest of the 2013-14 squad.

Forwards Devin Williams, Nathan Adrian and Brandon Watkins, who all saw significant action as freshmen, will all be back, as will guards Terry Henderson and Gary Browne. Forward Kevin Noreen will be back for his senior season, as will Remi Dibo. Elijah Macon and Jonathan Holton, who were ineligible this season, are expected to join the lineup, along with area walk-ons Chase Connor (Shady Spring) and Richard Romeo (Greenbrier East).

Two high school signees, guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, will also join the mix. Both will be on display at the Scott Brown Employer’s Innovative Network Classic April 12 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.

“I am excited about next year’s team,” said Staten. “We are going to prepare as hard as we can to get back to the NCAA Tournament.”

— E-mail: chuffman@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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