WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two weeks ago Juwan Staten said he would evaluate his draft status once the season ended. But when the end came too soon for his liking Tuesday night, he felt it distasteful to ponder an NBA future.
“I’ll make a decision and talk more about that later,” Staten said after Georgetown ousted West Virginia 77-65 in the NIT. “Right now that’s kind of the furthest thing from my mind. I’m kind of upset about the game that we just played.”
“I’m not really thinking about (the draft) right now.”
Five days removed from leaving the Big 12 tournament with a sprained ankle, Staten returned to his typically explosive self, attacking the lane in a 23-point performance. He played 38 minutes, right in line with his season average, while contributing seven assists and attempting his first 3-pointer in nine games. It went in and helped West Virginia to a 33-30 halftime edge.
That’s where the game turned for the Mountaineers, who gave up the lead three minutes into the second half and never regained it, being outscored 47-32.
Coach Bob Huggins’ postgame lecture lasted more than a half-hour, but Staten boiled down the message to this: “As a team we have a lot of growing up to do.”
The point guard seemed to concur, frustrated by his team’s incapacity to stop Georgetown’s second-half surge.
“If you lose a game, let’s lose a game with everybody coming in the locker room dead tired and knowing that we fought to the end and gave it our all. But that’s just not the feeling that we have after this game.”
Staten was sore, and it had nothing to do with his ankle. Despite four wins over teams seeded sixth or higher in the NCAA tournament, despite a four-win improvement over 2013, and despite exceeding some external expectations, this wasn’t fulfilling to Staten. Especially the final month. After a sixth defeat in eight games, he wasn’t up for spraying sunshine on a season he found unsatisfying.
“It’s over, and these are things we all hate—the speech at the end, the sad faces and knowing that we’re going to have to sit at home and watch everybody else play.”
Now fans naturally wonder whether they’ll see Staten play for WVU next season. That’s the biggest offseason question facing the program. And in the too-raw aftermath of Tuesday night’s loss, he wasn’t offering a hint.