MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After Thursday’s announcement that Big 12 basketball coaches had voted him preseason player of the year, West Virginia’s Juwan Staten rewound his thoughts to the start of last year.
That’s when Staten was not a candidate for any preseason accolades. When some questioned whether he had the guts and poise to run a team.
Staten buried those doubts, emerging as an all-conference performer and one of the nation’s most cherished point guards. Few teams depended on a player as much as West Virginia relied on Staten. His 37 minutes per game led the Big 12 and revealed a deepened trust with coach Bob Huggins after the two survived some rocky moments during Staten’s sophomore season.
Other coaches across the league showed their respect for Staten this week, making him a unanimous selection to the preseason team.
“It just makes me hungrier,” Staten told MetroNews “Sportsline” on Thursday night. “It makes me want to keep working and reach more goals.”
As preseason practice opens Friday, Staten is the Big 12’s top returning scorer (18.1 points per game). His 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked second in the league and his 48.6 field-goal percentage was third, but he said he “wants to become a compete point guard,” which means becoming a credible threat from 3-point range.
“Everyone’s going to say stop him from getting to the rim and make him shoot outside shots,” Staten said. “They tried to do that to me last year. So that’s why I’ve been working hard on my shooting.”
After going 0-of-9 from 3-point range as a sophomore, Staten was 6-of-15 last season. That’s a 40-percent clip that would render defenders useless if Staten can maintain the accuracy over a few more attempts.
Preseason All-Big 12
Juwan Staten, G, West Virginia
Perry Ellis, F, Kansas
Georges Niang, F/C, Iowa State
Marcus Foster, G, Kansas State
Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma
Honorable mentions: Ryan Spangler (Oklahoma), Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State), Jonathan Holmes (Texas), Cameron Ridley (Texas) and Isaiah Taylor (Texas).
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Bryce Dejean-Jones (Iowa State)
Preseason Freshmen of the Year
Cliff Alexander (Kansas) and Myles Turner (Texas) tied