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Mitch Vingle: Staten, WVU hoops, lacrosse and SC

Ye olde notebook:

n You might know WVU point guard Juwan Staten has skills.

This past week, though, Skills had him.

Staten was one of only 13 collegiate point guards to be invited to and attending the Nike Skills Academy at Kean University in Union, N.J.

NBA stars Kyrie Irving, Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke were among the instructors to the 13. Nineteen top high school point guards also attended. The Big Man Skills Academy was held at the same time with DeMarcus Cousins serving as one instructor.

How did it go for Staten?

“Juwan Staten is polished,” tweeted former Maryland and NBA star and coach John Lucas. “Strong frame and tough.” It was one of the first tweets sent out by the 1976 No. 1 draft pick during the camp.

“It made me feel good,” Staten said. “I tried to pick his brain as much as possible. He played the same position as me and was picked No. 1. I tried to stay close to him and learn.”

Smart man. Staten said the instructors were mostly NBA Developmental League coaches and NBA assistants, in addition to the aforementioned players.

“I got to talk a lot to Trey [Burke],” Staten said. “We grew up together. He was from Columbus and I was from Dayton and we played AAU ball together. We’ve known each other a long time.”

Staten said there were two workouts a day, the first centering on drills and the second on 4-on-4 or 5-on-5 matchups.

“Camp was really structured around conditioning,” Staten said. “A lot was taught on the fly, but I got a lot of good feedback from Lucas and others.”

Among the other Big 12 players attending were Isaiah Taylor of Texas and Kansas State’s Marcus Foster. One former Marshall foe, UAB’s Chad Frazier, was there as well.

Staten is now hoping to hear from the LeBron James Skills Academy, which invites only the top 30 college players for a get-together in Las Vegas July 9-12.

n While on the subject of Staten, many know he transferred to WVU from Dayton. But did you know he also went to Oak Hill [Va.] Academy, where he was rated a four-star recruit?

It’s true. And if you’re counting, Bob Huggins has three four-star recruits on his current roster: Staten, Elijah Macon and Devin Williams. The kicker: Jonathan Holton, a former three-star kid, might turn out to be the team’s best all-around player.

“We’re talented,” Huggins told me recently.

n Among the WVU players who might have been underrated by recruiting analysts is Jevon Carter. Many to check out Mountaineer practices have pointed to him.

“He’s a fast learner,” Staten said of Carter. “He can definitely make shots and is willing to play defense. You don’t see that much from freshman guards. He’s a tough kid and a competitor. He’ll definitely help us this year.”

Of course, Carter has been in Morgantown. Daxter Miles and Jaysean Paige are expected on campus today. Then Tarik Phillip and Billydee Williams will join the fray in mid-July. Word from Morgantown is all are good to go now except Williams, who is finishing up a class.

n In case you’re wondering, Huggins is still rehabilitating from his hip-replacement surgery and still using a cane to assist while walking. The usual recovery time to resume normal physical activity is three to six weeks.

n Huggins isn’t the only Mountaineer basketball connection down. Forward Nate Adrian is out with mononucleosis. “I’ve never had a kid with that before and now I’ve had two in the last year,” Huggins said.

The other, of course, was Terry Henderson, who suffered from the ailment during last season.

n You might have noticed there’s a nice lacrosse presence in the Kanawha Valley. Capital, George Washington, Herbert Hoover, Hurricane and St. Albans have all sported club teams of late.

State-wide there are 19 boys teams — broken into Division I and II — and eight girls teams. They are members of the West Virginia Scholastic Lacrosse Association. University High’s boys and girls were the 2014 state champs of Division I, while Berkeley County, which draws from different schools, won the boys Division II title. GW’s girls lost in the finals to UHS.

I bring this up because I wondered how close lacrosse is to being a sanctioned sport by the SSAC. The answer is, right now, not very close.

“To be considered there has to be a certain number of schools with club teams and interest [in turning them into full-fledged teams],” said SSAC director Gary Ray. “That threshold is 32 teams. We’re not there yet. We need 32 to get into a regional-based format.”

GW coach Brad White has a nice volunteer coaching system in place and says his school is ready if the club team ever becomes sanctioned by the SSAC.

“GW follows all the SSAC rules from academic to disciplinary requirements,” White said. “We play by all the rules so when we’re ready to go, we can go.”

n Kudos to South Charleston officials for a plan that gives city kids a great place to play ball — and draws business.

According to SC mayor Frank Mullens, Pro Grass turf was laid on a baseball field at Little Creek Park’s Rock complex for $321,000. It will be ready for the state’s 9-10-year-old Little League tournament, which begins July 11.

Mullens helped begin the complex’s progression in 1997 when he was the public works director. There are now seven fields serving baseball, softball, football and soccer. On the drawing board are plans to turf another football/soccer field as well as a softball field.

“That way we will have the best of both worlds for the kids,” Mullens said. “We’ll have the natural and turf surfaces.”

n And finally . . .

You gotta love ex-WVU kicker and current Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee. He’s wildly popular via his “Pat McAfee Show,” Twitter and “Bob and Tom” radio show appearances. The guy has a great sense of humor.

But he also has a goal, and it will be interesting to see if he can reach it.

McAfee recently said he is lobbying to become the Colts’ kicker when Adam Vinatieri retires. The former Mountaineer already handles kickoffs. He says he can pop one over the goal posts from 75 yards out — at least in Denver.

“I think we could legitimately go from 75 yards — not even a question about it,” he told the Indianapolis Star. “I think in warmups I’d be able to hit from 80, like full strain. Probably try it a couple times.”

Matt Prater’s 64-yard record kick was hit in Denver, where the air is less dense.

“I’ve already been politicking for the shot [at the field goal kicking job],” McAfee said. “If I kick a 75-yarder at Denver I might retire right afterward. You might see me untie my shoes on the field and just walk off, like ‘See ya.’ You know, go out on top.”

That’s what you call a real field goal.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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