By Cam Huffman
A lot has been made about the four West Virginia University basketball signees playing together for the first time at Saturday’s Scott Brown Memorial Classic at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, and I understand the excitement.
After the season that WVU fans just experienced, they’re ready to grasp at any sign that the future will be better, and by all accounts the four incoming freshman could make that a reality.
Devin Williams, a Scout.com four-star power forward, helped his Montverde Academy (Fla.) team to a 27-2 record, and at 6-foot-8, 235-pounds, he has the frame to make an impact right away.
Elijah Macon, another four-star forward, is loaded with athleticism and leaping ability and 6-foot-10 Brandon Watkins, the nephew of former Greenbrier East and WVU great Warren Baker, averaged a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds as a senior at Grady High School in Atlanta.
The other signee, Morgantown High School’s Nathan Adrian, returned from an injury to lead his team into the Class AAA playoffs. He brings with him the hope of being the first real in-state contributor for the Mountaineers since Martinsburg’s Kevin Pittsnogle to really make an impact at WVU.
Those four provide more than enough motivation for Mountaineer fans to come and take a glance into the crystal ball.
But those four don’t make up the entire Little General All-Star roster that will take the floor for the national game at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Two of the others may also end up playing in Morgantown. Martinsburg’s Donte Grantham, the West Virginia Sports Writer’s Association Player of the Year, is on the roster, and, according to his Twitter account, he picked up a scholarship offer from Bob Huggins and the WVU staff last week. A decision could come at any time.
Chase Connor, the leading scorer in Shady Spring High School history and a first-team all-state selection, will also play for the Little General squad, and it could be a tryout of sorts for the senior guard.
Connor, who led Class AAA in scoring, averaging 27 points per game, had a scholarship offer from Radford, but he’s considering the option of becoming a walk-on for the Mountaineers. That offer hasn’t come yet, but multiple sources at both WVU and Shady Spring said it could be close.
“I’m very grateful and thankful to have the opportunity to prove myself and show that I can play with the best of the best,” said Connor of Saturday’s all-star game. “It should be a blast.”
Another local member of that team is Princeton’s Ryan Meadows, another first-team all-state selection who averaged 21.7 points and 5.4 assists per game for the Tigers. Meadows’ 5-foot-10, 145-pound stature could keep him from catching the eyes of Division I coaches, but he’s equally excited about the chance to match his skills with big-time college prospects.
“I thank God for the opportunity,” said Meadows. “It’s a huge honor to be on a team with four WVU commits and some of the best players in the state.
“It’s also an honor to go against other players who have committed to places like Baylor, Virginia Tech and Tennessee (Baylor signee Dominic Woodson, future Arkansas Razorback Moses Kingsley, Tennessee signee Travon Landry and Virginia Tech signee Donte Clark will all be part of the Crossroads Chevy team that will do battle with the Little General squad in Saturday’s featured game) . It’s a great opportunity, and I am very thankful to be chosen for a game such as this one.”
Andrew Johnson, who led Woodrow Wilson to the Class AAA championship game as the Flying Eagles starting point guard, may not have a future in college basketball. He’s headed to Hargrave Military Academy to play football, hoping to eventually end up playing for a four-year school.
But if this is his last time in front of a crowd on a basketball court, he’s determined to put on one final show.
Ra’Shaud Kincaid and Hunter Moles of South Charleston will round out the Little General roster, and Jalen Lewis and Dereck Weiford of Greenbrier East will join the list on the Crossroads Chevy group.
For years, Mountain State natives have heard that the talent within the borders just isn’t good enough to match up with what’s outside of West Virginia. Some very good athletes will get a chance to prove that stereotype wrong this weekend, and that’s an opportunity they usually don’t have.
Tickets for Saturday’s games — the Class A All-Stars will match up against the Class AA All-Stars at 4 p.m., followed by the national game at 6 p.m. — are still on sale at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, online at www.beckleyconventioncenter.com or by calling 1-888-695-0888.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.