Jonathan Holton and Jevon Carter each recorded double-doubles to lead several impressive performances by West Virginia players in Wednesday's Pittsburgh Pro-Am session.
BlueGoldNews.com managing editor Michael Carvelli best encompassed the essentially playground-style games in his Monday piece, describing them as often regressing into an AAU look, with teams failing to run legitimate offense and work for the best looks. The first series of games was to feature Devin Williams and Dax Miles (Team CRONS) at the Montour Sports Complex and Brandon Watkins (Bakery Square) at Montour Intermediate. None of the players showed due to personal conflicts. The 8:15 pairings pitted Jonathan Holton and James Long (UMPC) at MSC and Elijah Macon and Jevon Carter (System One) against WVU teammate Chase Connor (PGT) at Intermediate. Neither Holton nor Long started, but both entered in the first five minutes of UPMC's 89-78 win against a GNC team comprised mainly of players from Robert Morris and other non-major league talent.
Holton, who amassed 10 points and 11 rebounds – at least according to the stat sheet, which somehow had Elijah Macon without a rebound – ran the floor well, but was frustrated early by not getting the bounce on his first couple of shots. He began to get into the flow from the swingman spot after about six minutes of play, and started to alter shots effectively, while battling for rebounds. Holton's best open floor attribute is that he dribbles with his head up, aways looking for the pass in transition. And though those were forced a few times, the hustle and idea were admirable. Holton tried to use the added floor space as an extra offensive player, spreading the defense out and forcing it to move, both horizontally and laterally. He began to show his interior offensive ability late in the first half, hitting consecutive shots in the paint on a back down series that ended with a baby left hook. That was followed by a driving left-handed lay-in, and he seemed to feed off that, showing a physical style the remainder of the game.
Long (five points and an assist against two turnovers) manned the point, and fed the post nicely on his first offensive trip. He also nailed his initial shot, a three-pointer from between the top of the key and the right wing. He moves his feet decently, but lacks the overall burst and quickness one would like for a major Division I point guard. He struggled at times to stay in front of the defender, but took intelligent angles on that end, which helped cut down the deficiency. He didn't get much help in showcasing his offensive skillset, as the drive and kick was largely absent from teammates, as was the overall idea of sharing the ball. Long, who forced the action just before half that caused a turnover and gave the opposing team a shot at a last-second three, which they converted, made an exceptional play late in the contest, forging a steal as the opposing team inbounded, and hitting a lay-up for his final points.
Carter was seemingly all over the floor, scoring 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds and six assists. The board numbers are unusually inflated for perimeter players in these games due to the poor shot selection, typically from distance as players lack the patience and desire to work the ball inside. Don't expect the freshman to come anywhere near those numbers on a routine night. But do expect his flashes of explosion and ability to distribute effectively. Carter can get the team into a basic offensive set from the one, or score from the two – at least in a set-up such as this, when defense is more than a bit lagging. Connor said Carter has been running he point at times in practices because Juwan Staten has been attending camps. He said he believes Carter could be a one or two, pending need for the Mountaineers.
Macon, meanwhile, was again among the more physically imposing players in System One's 113-88 win over PGT. He ran the floor well for his size, and was very difficult to block out on the interior, despite finishing with zero rebounds because of shot selection and very few misses. The 6-9, 240-pounder, who made nine of 15 shots for 24 points, is likely up above the 250 pound range now, and showcased his athleticism in a brief dunk session after the game. On one near-make, Macon tried a 360 windmill jam that just hit off the back iron.
Connor, who didn't get fed the ball on the perimeter as much as one would like, hit three of six from there for his nine points. He can be a solid situational player for WVU, and his game should only improve with additional experience. WVU guards Dax Miles and Tarik Phillips are also listed on Pro-Am rosters, and are expected to begin play sometime in the next week. Neither are yet listed on the school's official roster. Nathan Adrian is being held out of the Summer League while recovering from a concussion.