MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Juwan Staten returned from the LeBron James Skills Academy with an enriched understanding of what it takes to play point guard and a deeper scouting report on some of his Big 12 counterparts.
The West Virginia rising senior, who was among 32 college players and 93 elite high school prospects invited to the four-day camp in Las Vegas, paid particular attention to the six other Big 12 players in attendance.
“You try to pick up some tendencies of theirs,” Staten told the MetroNews “Statewide Sportsline” on Tuesday.
Iowa State’s Georges Niang, Kansas State’s Marcus Foster, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, Texas’ Isaiah Taylor and two Kansas players, Perry Ellis and Kelly Oubre, joined Staten in representing the Big 12.
Of course all the players represented the hoops world in wondering where James would take his free-agent talents. The King’s choice to return to Cleveland struck a sentimental chord with Staten, the kid from Dayton who five years ago received what might have been the best consolation hug ever given.
Staten had poured in 28 points only to see his high school team lose the 2009 Ohio state championship 59-53 to St. Vincent-St. Mary, James’ alma mater.
“That was the first time I had met him and I was speechless,” Staten recalled of his sobbing postgame embrace with the planet’s best player. “I had just lost the most important game of my life with LeBron watching. I wanted to be celebrating at that point, but we had lost and I put everything I had into it.
“He came up and said he just appreciated me as a player. He told me to keep my head up. He shared some things with me. He told me to remember that feeling and use it as fuel for the next year.”
Listen to Staten’s complete “Sportsline” interview above, including the point guard’s evaluation of how West Virginia’s newcomers are performing.