MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — While remaining somewhat cryptic about the status of star recruit Elijah Macon, West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins acknowledged the four-star power forward won’t likely play this year.
Macon enrolled at WVU in August but could be classified as a partial qualifier, making him ineligible to play during the 2013-14 season and ineligible to practice until second semester. (Similar circumstances led Ben McLemore to sit out a year at Kansas before becoming a Wooden Award finalist last season.)
After originally signing with the Mountaineers in 2012, Macon failed to qualify and spent an additional year at prep school.
“Honestly, I don’t know how much I’m allowed to get into,” Huggins said during his first preseason media session.
Along with academic hurdles, Macon is coping with physical maladies. Already recovering from summertime wrist surgery, the 6-foot-9 recruit now has a toe injury.
“He’s not even able to run now,” Huggins said. Asked if it was safe to assume Macon won’t play this upcoming season, the coach said, “Yeah, I would think it would be way more that way than the other way.”
West Virginia also is awaiting final approval on junior-college recruit Jonathan Holton, who has been cleared to practice but not to play.
“I think that we’ll have a final answer at the end of the week,” Huggins said. “That’s a guess.”
Holton landed at Palm Beach State (Fla.) Community College last season after being dismissed from Rhode Island following charges he secretly videotaped sexual encounters with two female students. In May, Holton pleaded no contest to one count of video voyeurism and was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to undergo mental health counseling.
WVU’s four other newcomers—Remi Dibo, Devin Williams, Nathan Adrian and Brandon Watkins—have been cleared to compete, said Huggins, whose program is aiming to rebound from last season’s 13-19 finish.
After enduring his first losing season since 1985 at Akron, Huggins remade his roster by replacing five transfers with the nation’s No. 23-ranked recruiting class.
“I’ve never not been able to get guys to plays as hard as I wanted them to play,” he said with regard to last season’s dropoff. “Obviously we had some deficiencies.”