WVU off to successful start at Pro-Am

Summer leagues like the Pittsburgh Pro-Am are always very interesting to watch.

Of course, it's nice to get to see players on the court going up against one another in game situations. But the games can quickly turn into more of an AAU game than anything, with teams running up and down the floor, firing up bad shots or getting breakaway dunks within seconds and repeating the process over and over until the game is finally over.

So it isn't always easy to judge and evaluate the way a player looks in these games because it might not always be the way they will look when the season rolls around. It's an opportunity for players to try different things and use the chance to play against someone as a way to work on the areas where they need to improve their game before the season rolls around.

That certainly was the case for West Virginia Monday night at Montour High School as the Pittsburgh Pro-Am opened up play with four games spread out on two courts.

The first games of the night saw three Mountaineers in action, with sophomore walk-on guard Chase Connor playing at the Montour Sports Complex and forward Elijah Macon and incoming freshman guard Jevon Carter playing at the Intermediate court.

  • For the first time watching him live, Carter showed quite a bit of promise for the most part. He played hard on the defensive end of the floor, finishing the game with five steals.

    He got into passing lanes and caused havoc at times, but there were also a handful of times in which he struggled to prevent his man from getting into the lane. He spent the majority of the game guarding the opposing team's point guard, and was impressive at fighting his way through screens and recovering quickly.

    Offensively, he made a few shots from beyond the arc and has a nice, smooth stroke when he shoots the ball from the perimeter that stays consistent each time. He turned the ball over twice and had two assists, managing the game well when he got to spend time running the point.

  • Macon, like the other WVU big men in attendance, looked like he got bigger since he arrived on campus a year ago. He spent Monday night working on some things he's been trying to get better at to improve his overall game.

    He tried to post up on the low block at times during his game, but he was most effective (mostly because of the fact that he wasn't getting the ball when he put himself in good position down low) when he stepped away from the paint and either took some midrange shots or put the ball on the floor and attacked the rim.

    He didn't score every time he did it, but he looked comfortable and didn't hesitate when he got his chances to make something happen - which could be a good sign for how much Bob Huggins has talked about wanting to have a four who can step out and extend Big 12 defenses.

    Macon didn't always run the floor well and seemed to take plays off at times, but the same can be said for a lot of big men throughout the night as the guards ended up taking over and running fast breaks that would end in a shot within less than 10 seconds of getting the ball back.

  • In the game going on at the other court, you kind of got what you would expect from Chase Connor. The Shady Spring, W.Va., native took four shots - all of which came from beyond the arc - and made one, to finish with three points.

    He came off screens well and was able to get set on most of his attempts from the field. He struggled at times defensively, as his man made a few shots on him during the stretch when I got to watch him.


    The two games to end the night saw three more West Virginia players get to see action, with Brandon Watkins playing on the Montour Athletic Complex court and Devin Williams and James Long playing against each other at the Intermediate court.

  • Admittedly, because of having to walk back and forth between the two courts and splitting my time trying to watch a good portion of both games going on at the time with WVU players, I will say that I was surprised to see the final stat line for Watkins. The sophomore big man finished the night with 29 points and seven rebounds, but he only had a couple of buckets during the portion that I got to watch.

    He was another big man who was having a little trouble with the fact that the fact, guard-focused game didn't benefit true low post players too much but he made the most of the opportunities that he got, worked hard down low when fighting for rebounds and played with a high motor and ran up and down the floor well - which, in turn, helped him get a little more involved in the game.

  • After seeing the way he looked a year ago, I didn't know if it was possible for Devin Williams to get a whole lot bigger. But he definitely has been hitting the weight room hard and looks to be even bigger and stronger than he was as a freshman.

    He had 21 points and 10 rebounds and was one of just five players to record a double-double. And he showed that he is able to get a hand on a lot of missed shots when rebounds become available, although he wasn't able to grab as many as he could have.

    By the end of Williams' game, the two teams were running up and down the floor exchanging fast-break dunks (and Williams threw down a lob from a teammate in the final minutes) so from there it was really tough to give a good evaluation of things when they weren't really playing a style that is comparable to what will be played during the season.

  • James Long, who sat out last season after transferring from Wofford, made a few nice plays of his own Monday night.

    He finished 3-of-8 from the field with seven points and an assist and looked good shooting the ball from the outside, while also making a couple of layups. Long was also one of just a handful of guards on the floor who settled it down a bit and tried to feed the post when his big men were able to get in position to try to make a move and score in the paint.

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