How Brandon Knapper reacted when he was cleared to play

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The day Brandon Knapper received medical clearance in August to resume basketball activities, it came as a complete surprise to him.

Knapper sat out his freshman season with a knee injury and then missed most of this summer’s workouts with a blood clot.

“I had no idea I was about to get cleared,” Knapper said. “I figured it was just going to be something else. When I finally hard those words that I was cleared, that was a great moment.”

The point guard, who played his high school ball at South Charleston, kept himself in shape lifting weights and conditioning with the team over the summer while he was waiting to resume scrimmaging.

Knapper is expected to play a role in the Mountaineers’ large rotation of guards that includes Beetle Bolden, Jermaine Haley, Jordan McCabe, Trey Doomes and Chase Harler.

Ahmad wasn’t ready for NBA

Esa Ahmad said he and Mountaineers coaches received an evaluation from NBA general managers last season regarding his NBA status. After making himself eligible for the draft on April 5, Ahmad withdrew his name May 1.

“In the end, I just felt like it was best to come back,” Ahmad said. “I needed to work on becoming more aggressive in my game.”

Ahmad was ineligible for the first half of last season — a penalty consistent with testing positive for street drugs at an NCAA postseason event — and subsequently played in 21 games and averaged 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds.

As for what is expected of him this season, Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said it isn’t far-fetched to think of Ahmad as a guy who could average seven or eight rebounds a game.

“Conceivably he could, but it’s going to depend on out other guys, too,” Huggins said. “It would help if he became that kind of guy.”

NBA general managers told West Virginia forward Esa Ahmad he wasn’t ready for the league.

West is a believer

Lamont West said he’s learning to become a team leader considering he’s now one of the older players.

But when it comes to WVU’s young guards, West is a believer.

“We’ve got some good guards,” he said. “You all probably don’t know them right now, but you will. There aren’t too many guards like [Jevon Carter] — he was different. But we’ve got some good scorers. We’ve got passers, shooters, defenders. Whatever you need, we got it.”

Injury updates

Forward Sagaba Konate was not at the start of practice. He is dealing with a knee injury. … Guard Chase Harler has been slowed by back issues, but was running full-speed at practice. … Junior-college recruit Andrew Gordon also practiced. He is still dealing with a knee injury that forced him to redshirt at Northwest Florida State College last season.

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