Macon Makes Most of Situation, Ready for Return to Court - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Macon Makes Most of Situation, Ready for Return to Court

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MORGANTOWN -

Nearly a year ago, down in Beckley, the future of West Virginia University basketball took the court in the Scott Brown Classic. In total, five players who were on their way to Morgantown showcased their talents, but only four of them wound up getting minutes for the Mountaineers this past season.

Elijah Macon was the odd man out. A 6-foot-9, 240-pound big man who has gone from Huntington Prep to Brewster Academy to WVU knew early in the school year that he still had work to do in order to become eligible. As long as he had already waited to join his teammates, he had more waiting to do.

"It's just really been a mental thing, staying strong through everything," Macon said in an interview with The Bob Huggins Show. "Once I got here and found out I had to sit another year, it just made me hungrier. The process of sitting out this year has been great. I'm making it a positive of going through weights and learning the system, so it's been pretty good since I've been here."

While Devin Williams, Nathan Adrian, Brandon Watkins and even walk-on Chase Connor took the court, Macon watched from a front row seat adjacent to the team bench. It wasn't the ideal situation, but with no other option, he took mental notes of what he could do against Big 12 competition when the opportunity finally comes next season.

Unlike Jonathan Holton, a transfer who also sat out this season, Macon was not allowed to join his teammates in practice. It was a major step back, certainly, and an even more difficult blow to take for a person whose life has revolved around the sport.

"Sitting on the sideline, watching everything that I can do and bring to the team, I really take that seriously and making sure I'm at every [home] game or watching film and looking at what I can help with the team and with the coaches," said Macon.

Just looking at his frame, it is quite easy to tell what the freshman would help with next season. On a team that struggled in the post, Macon brings another body to bang around with big men and take pressure off of Williams, who could be more productive playing the four.

Macon himself doesn't shy away from expressing what he intends to bring to WVU when he is cleared to play.

"A lot of dunks," he said. "A lot of yelling, a lot of excitement. Just a lot of energy coming off the bench. A better atmosphere for me and for my teammates and everything."

As much as Macon may have wanted to join the Mountaineers immediately and contribute to what ended as a 17-16 record, the delay could work out as a blessing in disguise.

When the spring semester wraps up and he is able to fully participate with the rest of the team, it will be an improved group.

"I believe next year's team will be way more mature," said Macon. "The three [scholarship] freshmen that did play, I definitely know they're coming back more mature than what they did after just playing this year. They see what they have to do now for next season, so I believe next year's team will be ready to play and ready to go far."

By adding Macon's size and Holton's versatility as a player as comfortable on the perimeter as he is inside, the thought is that a full lineup will allow other athletes to play their more natural positions.

"It opens up a lot," said Macon. "It gives guys a lot of room to start playing their actual position, so a lot of guys won't have to play a position that they don't usually play. The threes will be able to play at their position, they won't have to drop down to a four. We have more size coming in next year, so I believe everybody will be more comfortable at what they'll actually be able to do."

Adrian and Remi Dibo may have learned how to play in the post, but they are more suited to create mismatches on the wing than to body up to centers.

There is no question that the biggest deficiency West Virginia had this past season was on the interior and Macon could go a long way to solidify the depth and improve the post play.

After delaying the process this long, he is just itching for the opportunity.  

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