The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

May 28, 2009

Huggins: Ebanks will be a first-round pick

It was, on the surface, a rather ridiculous brief that crossed my desk in early April. “WVU freshman Devan Ebanks will not enter the NBA Draft.”

Well, duh!

I thought I laughed at it. Turns out nobody laughed harder than West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins.

“It wasn’t even an issue,” Huggins said Thursday at the Mountaineer Athletic Club golf outing at The Resort at Glade Springs. “I don’t know how people get that information. Devan never thought about leaving. I talked to Devan and his mother, and this was after the fact, and he never thought about leaving.”

Huggins said Ebanks told him he “wanted to be a kid.”

“He’s having fun, man. He likes hanging out with Truck (Bryant) and Kevin (Jones) and the other guys on the team. He’ll be a first-round (NBA) pick when he decides to come out.”

Indeed, SI.com had Ebanks listed as No. 13 for next year’s NBA Draft, still 13 months away.

Of course, it took Ebanks some time to get it in gear the past season, which is typical for most freshmen.

“Devan has a high (basketball) aptitude,” Huggins said. “It was more of a confidence thing. He came out and tried to score a bunch of points. When that didn’t happen, his confidence wavered.”

But once he got back on track, Ebanks exploded on the scene. He set career highs in points and rebounds in back-to-back games at the Big East Tournament.

He is one of the reasons — along with Da’Sean Butler, Bryant and a top-notch recruiting class — why WVU is ranked as high as No. 9 in some way-too-premature preseason polls.

As for former MSA standout Deniz Kilicli, a 6-foot-9, 270-pound beast, Huggins still thinks he’ll contribute next season.

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