There was a point during Sagaba Konate’s young basketball career that he was just fun to watch. From bicep flexes after a blocked shot to the shouts and screams after a two-handed slam, Konate has been nothing short of entertaining on the court.
It makes for a good story. A story and a player you can cheer for.
It’s not that the 6-foot-8, 260-pound behemoth picked up a basketball yesterday and just now learned how to dunk or block shots. But it feels like it. No matter how old he looks, Konate is still young and still figuring things out, still evolving into a terrific player. He only played two years of high school ball in Hermitage, Pennsylvania before signing with West Virginia. And if the learning curve wasn’t steep enough, English is his third language and he’s still getting a hang of that.
Now, though, Konate is not just a shot-blocking, rim-rattling savant.
He’s the man.
With Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. chasing their own professional careers after four illustrious years in Morgantown, Konate is no longer the Mountaineers’ “little” brother. He’s the leader of what is a rather young, inexperienced team. West Virginia will be welcoming seven newcomers to the team for the 2018 season and despite what you think you know about playing big-time college basketball, it’s a lot different than the high school or JUCO ranks. And the fresh, new players have no idea what it’s like to play for Bob Huggins.
I won’t be the one to call Konate’s maturity into question even though some of his antics (finger wags, etc.) have probably irked the rest of the Big 12. And it’s no secret the big man has had to be “reeled in” a time or two after a big play, but he’s now the face of the program. And with that title, comes great responsibility.
A task he seems ready for.
Konate has already been asked to do a lot during his time at West Virginia and if the junior can learn how to play basketball, learn to speak English, and be named to the All-Big 12 team after only a handful of years, being the leader of the Mountaineers should be a walk in the park.