The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

December 14, 2012

Former Mountaineers cracking NBA rosters

The list of former West Virginia University stars in the National Basketball Association isn’t nearly as long as the one for players in the National Football League, but Mountaineer fans are quick to point out that they’re happy to at least have a list.

After Loews Moore’s NBA career with San Diego Clippers ended in 1983, WVU didn’t have a player suit up for an NBA squad again until Joe Alexander was the eighth overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft.

Alexander’s NBA career, though, never developed as planned. He played in 67 career games with the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls, scoring 282 points, grabbing 120 rebounds and blocking 30 shots. But he hasn’t played in the NBA since 2010.

After spending much of his professional career in the NBADL, Alexander signed with BC Krasnye Krylia in Russia during the NBA lockout. There, he suffered a stress fracture in his leg that limited his action.

Alexander is now back in the United States working to make his way back to the NBA.

 Devin Ebanks, who was chosen with the 43rd overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, looks as though he could stick around a little longer.

Now in his third year with the Los Angeles Lakers, and currently playing for Mullens native Mike D’Antoni, Ebanks has played in 12 games this season and made his first start Friday night. He came into Friday’s game with 42 points and 23 rebounds in 11 games.

The other former Mountaineer currently on an NBA roster is Kevin Jones.

In his rookie season — after going undrafted, although he led the Big East in both scoring and rebounding as a senior — Jones recently signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He impressed the Cavs by spending the early portion of the season with the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League, where he averaged 27 points and 13.7 rebounds per game.

Jones has played in three games since joining the team on Dec. 5. In 19 minutes, he’s scored two points and grabbed five rebounds.

Da’Sean Butler also tried his hand at the NBA and was selected with the 42nd overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft.

The knee injury Butler suffered in the Final Four game against Duke, though, held him back, and he was never 100 percent healthy for an NBA team.

Butler spent time with the Austin Toros of the NBADL and played in the Latvian Basketball League for a short time.

Butler is now a graduate assistant coach for Bob Huggins at WVU.

———

The honors continue to roll in for WVU’s receiving duo of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.

Both were named to Phil Steele’s All-America first team, Bailey as a receiver and Austin as the all-purpose player. Austin was also a second team selection as a wide receiver.

The Football Writers Association of America, which releases only a 26-man first team, had Bailey as one of its two wide receivers, along with Southern California’s Marqise Lee. Austin did not make that list.

Austin was, however, named the 2012 All-Purpose Performer of the Year by the College Football Performance Awards. Austin will receiver that honor at WVU’s home basketball game against Oakland on Dec. 19.

Austin had 2,764 all-purpose yards this season and score 17 touchdowns. He set a Big 12 record with 572 all-purpose yards in a 50-49 loss to Oklahoma.

Austin needs 433 all-purpose yards in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl game against Syracuse to set the Football Bowl subdivision record for all-purpose yardage.

Bailey, who was one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, had 106 catches for 1,501 yards and 23 touchdowns, more than any receiver in the country.

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

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