Huntington Prep senior Elijah Macon (left), who has committed to WVU, puts up a shot in practice.
Games like Wednesday night's loss at home to Notre Dame make it all too apparent that West Virginia could benefit from a few more talented players.Fear not WVU fans, Elijah Macon is on his way and he is saying and doing all the right things.The 6-foot-9 Mountaineer commit is chugging along through his senior season, averaging 13.2 points and eight rebounds for Huntington Prep against some of the nation's best talent.Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford said the coaching staff is doing everything it can to prepare Macon for life under WVU coach Bob Huggins.
"He's done well," Fulford said at a Huntington Prep practice on Wednesday. "We've had to kind of change his body type a little bit. He came in a little bit out of shape. I know how Huggs is going to play him so we've tried to add some weight and mass to him. I know he'll be more of a post player up there as opposed to a wing, and I know that's what they recruited him for. His jump shot is getting better, he's got to cut down on turnovers and stuff like that, but we're just trying to get his body right."He's college-ready from a size standpoint. We've just got to get the other pieces of the puzzle intact."Macon said he's also trying to improve on the mental side of the game, as in staying focused and poised in tough situations.But when it comes to WVU, Macon is fully immersing himself in the ins and outs of the program."I would say I've watched more WVU games than I ever have," Macon said. "When I first committed I didn't really watch games, I just went with the flow. Now I've been really paying attention and seeing how [Huggins] really coaches, what plays they run and what defense they are in. I'm starting to really pay attention more to that so I know what I'm doing when I get there next year."
Macon went on to comment on this year's crop of West Virginia freshmen and his place among them next year, Aaric Murray and Juwan Staten's eligibility next year, and WVU's upcoming move from the Big East to the Big 12.In other words, the kid knows his stuff."They have young guards, we're really young this year," Macon said of West Virginia's current roster. "They have two seniors in K.J. [Kevin Jones] and Truck Bryant. Next year I'll add on another big and another rebounder. We'll still be young but we'll be better. This year [the freshmen] don't really know what to do, but by next year I'll be learning from them."The Columbus, Ohio native said the competition level has increased drastically in his only year at Huntington Prep, and that the talent level has helped prepare him even more for the next level.West Virginia fans have seen highly touted recruits fizzle out due to off-court issues, grades and other various problems. But Macon, listed as a four-star recruit on rivals.com, is making sure his academic ducks are in a row, adding he's flourishing at St. Joseph High School where Prep players attend classes during the day."It's more one-on-one attention with teachers that you get in private school than in public school," Macon said. "It's a better fit for me. I wouldn't say I was getting that much attention [at public school]. Now that I'm here I'm more focused on schoolwork. I mean I'm still focused on my game, but I'm more focused on my schoolwork."
And while a bright future looms on the horizon for Macon, his current team has fought to a No. 5 national ranking and the big man says he still has a few things to get done before he trades Huntington for Morgantown."Basically just being a captain, losing more body fat, and getting in shape," Macon said of his remaining goals. "Next year I know I'll be running a lot. Playing the position I play at, which is the three, four, and five, you've got to be ready to bang and do all the dirty work."Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org
, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.