Trying to evaluate the four recruits and two potential additions as a team is almost impossible, as the group only had a brief pair of practices together that didn't include all of its members. That, of course, figures heavily into the way they played the game, as execution of sets and familiarity with moves and tendencies was at a minimum. Still, there was certainly enough action to get an idea of how each of the players might project early in their Mountaineer careers.
One thing that stood out about all four of West Virginia's signees: they run the floor very well, and can hand;e the ball adroitly. Williams and Macon, despite their size and weight, get up and down the court quickly, and Watkins and Adrian match them with long strides and good hustle. In many cases, running the floor well is all about desire, and the quartet showed that, even in this somewhat meaningless all-star contest.
Devin Williams : The Cincinnati native is the most accomplished post player of any of the newcomers, displaying an excellent mix of moves, ball and pump fakes in the lane. He's not a great leaper, but he gets in good position on offense and can put together a combination of dribbles, drop steps, spins and flips to get the ball in the hoop.
As solid as he is there, Williams really shines in rebounding the ball. He doesn't out-jump anyone, but simply goes after every rebound as if it were a bag of diamonds. He never gives up on the ball, and is never caught watching as a shot goes up. He constantly searches for a way to get to the rim, blocks out well, and often comes down with the ball. In that regard, he's somewhat comparable to Kevin Jones – a guy that uses savvy, smarts and tireless effort to rebound the rock.
Williams also shows a greatly improved ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop. Twice he got the ball about 12 feet from the rim and drove on his defender, and combined a head fake and spin move to record an uncontested lay-up.
Elijah Macon: Macon and Williams are the closest pair of players in terms of style and position. Macon has put on about 15-20 pounds of upper body weight during his prep season, and he is learning to use it inside. He bodies up against defenders well and draws contact when making moves to the basket.
Macon can also hand;e the ball in the open floor, and shouldn't be a liability against the press. He has long arms and should become a defensive factor, especially as his timing continues to improve and he becomes more comfortable in his body. He's up to 245 pounds now, and likes the added dimension that brings to his game.
Brandon Watkins: While also an interior player, Watkins isn't as physical as Williams or Macon, but that doesn't mean he can't develop into a good frontcourt performer. He has long arms that allow him to get into passing lanes and defend against entry passes, and he can clearly alter shots in the lane. He had just one block in Saturday's contest, but he has shown the ability this year to record rejections in bunches, and as he learns more of the nuances of shot blocking, should become a force in that area of the game.
Watkins is still learning how to rebound effectively, and realizes that he has to develop his strength. He saw that firsthand in this game, and knows from watching Macon and Williams that he has to work hard on every possession in order to get to the ball. Watkins does have a nice mid-range jumper with a very high release which will be very difficult to block. He didn't knock one down in this game, which frustrated him, but he looked very comfortable in taking that shot, and it would be a surprise if that doesn't become a solid part of his offensive repertoire. On the blocks, he displayed a nice turn-in jump hook and a counter fadeaway, giving him a developing array of offensive weapons.
Nathan Adrian: The West Virginia native has worked hard to develop more aspects of his offensive game, and he showed those in this contest. In addition to his signature three-point jumpers, eh floated home a pair of runners off drives to the basket, and also flipped in a jump hook after receiving the ball in the lane. He's clearly comfortable putting the ball on the floor to drive and create space for his shot, and the floater allows him to pull up at any point and get a shot away. With his height, and playing as a counter to the power guys inside, Adrian could be an effective offensive player during his career.
Like Watkins, Adrian will need to get stronger to battle players of similar height, but he's also going to have an advantage to hang his hat on. Bigger opponents might be able to cause him some problems defensively, but will they be able to guard him both inside and out?
Donte Grantham: Grantham took a while to get into the flow of the game, but after he got used to the level of competition he fared well. He hit a pair of key free throws down the stretch, and and his confidence rose he clearly played more smoothly. His long arms and quick jumping ability give him the tools to be successful as a defender, and he has a good release on a high-rising jump shot.
Grantham sad after the game that he plans to make his college decision “within the next few days” and that the Mountaineers were still very much in the picture.
Chase Connor: A potential walk-on for the Mountaineers, Connor showed what makes him attractive to WVU by hitting ten threes in a pre-game competition and adding more during the game itself. While any playing time would be a stretch to consider early in his career, his shooting ability makes him an attractive target. Connor said that he was still considering his options, which consist of the WVU walk-on opportunity and some lower division offers.