MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Save for jet lag and a few tofu dishes, Elijah Macon enjoyed his recent 12-day tour of China and Mongolia with a U.S. traveling squad of college underclassmen.
The 6-foot-9 West Virginia power forward needed the competition after sitting out last season as a partial qualifier, a year in which he also underwent wrist surgery in October. Though the layoff was difficult, Macon hopes it came with a silver lining.
“At first it was miserable, because I’ve never had to sit out of basketball. It’s something I’ve surrounded myself with my whole life,” he said. “I just had to look at it as a positive, to take it as a year off that I could get better.”
Macon projects to play a central role next season for the Mountaineers, a program that hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament since 2012 and hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 2011.
Though West Virginia was staggered by the transfers of sophomore double-digit scorers Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, there’s hope a bigger, longer frontline can compensate.
“People will see it’s not the same team it’s been the last couple of years,” said Macon.
His debut at WVU has been twice delayed—first, by a year in prep school, and then last August’s enrollment accompanied by the caveat of not being able to practice with the team. Macon sounds anxious to make good on the four-star potential he flashed as a high school recruit.
“I just want to let the people know it’s all about the game, it’s all about winning, it’s all about the team,” he said. Macon believes his skills will translate into “a lot of tip-backs, a lot of midrange shots, a lot of blocks, a lot of running the floor, a lot of dunks.”
Macon was part of the USA Eagles team that gathered for a four-day training camp in Lafayette, Ind., before posting a 5-2 record on a Far East trip that spanned May 15-27.
The USA traveling roster included: Johnny Hill (UT-Arlington), Al Freeman and Jonathon Motley (Baylor), Clarke Rosenberg (Chicago State), Quinton Upshur (Northern Arizona), Bryce Douvier (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi), and Josh Hawkinson (Washington State).
Watch Macon’s entire “Sportsline” interview above.