West Virginia center Sagaba Konate declared for the NBA Draft in April, but still could return for his junior season. Whether he stays or goes could depend on his performance at this week’s NBA Combine, and according to ESPN, he’s one of the prospects to watch.
Konate is currently considered a fringe prospect for the NBA Draft, and hasn’t appeared in most mock drafts. His lack of height and rudimentary offensive game are considered issues, and according to ESPN, he’ll need to prove that his defense can be as dominant outside of “Press Virginia.”
“The high-motor center has the energy level and defensive acumen to shine in a helter-skelter setting such as the combine. Teams will be interested to see if he’s as effective defensively without West Virginia’s press funneling everything to him. They’ll also have a watchful eye on his temperament and offensive skill level with more freedom.”
Konate emerged as one of the Big 12’s premier defensive forces last season. The 6-foot-8 center averaged 3.2 blocks per game, including a program record nine in one game, and earned Big 12 All-Defensive honors. His blocks routinely made highlight reels throughout the season.
His defensive impact means that West Virginia has a lot riding on his performance at the combine. If Konate impresses enough that he feels comfortable staying in the draft, that means only walk-on Logan Routt will remain from last year’s group of big men.
Bob Huggins added bigs Derek Culver and Andrew Gordon to the team in his 2018 recruiting class to fill in some size. However, Konate’s return would give West Virginia one of the best returning big men in the conference. Konate has a deadline of May 30 to make his decision.