WVU working on medical redshirt for Sagaba Konate

March 19, 2019

CHARLESTON — Much was made of the possibility that injured West Virginia University junior forward Sagaba Konate would return from a prolonged absence and play in last week’s Big 12 men’s basketball tournament in Kansas City.

Konate, the program’s all-time leader in blocked shots, warmed up prior to the Mountaineers’ upset win against Texas Tech in Thursday’s quarterfinal round and their semifinal loss against Kansas, but did not play in either game.

Now, with WVU bound for the College Basketball Invitational, Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said Monday he does not expect Konate to participate in the tournament — which opens for West Virginia (14-20) with a 7 p.m. Wednesday home game against Western Athletic Conference tournament runner-up Grand Canyon (20-12).

Instead, WVU will seek a redshirt for Konate, Huggins said Monday.

“I don’t think he will (play in the CBD,” Huggins said. “We’re concentrating on kind of working and getting him a redshirt.”

Konate was a preseason All-Big 12 first team selection, but only appeared in eight games for the Mountaineers this season. The last time he played was Dec. 8 in Morgantown against rival Pittsburgh — the game when he set the program record for all-time blocked shots.

• Huggins was asked Monday on the Big 12 coaches conference call if there was a small part of him that wanted to just put this season behind him and move on to next season.

“There’s a lot of me that would like to do that, but you’ve got to do what’s best for the program and what is best for your kids,” Huggins said. “We basically have a bunch guys who have only played half a year, really. They were playing behind some other people or not playing at all so I think (playing in the CBDis a great experience for them.

• Wednesday will be the first meeting between West Virginia and Grand Canyon, so once the CBI matchups were announced late Sunday the WVU staff had to almost immediately get to work scouting the Antelopes.

″(Assistant coach) Ronnie (Everhart) was in here with our film people doing the scout last night,” Huggins said. “Of course, then everybody else starts in the morning. We’re all good.”

The Lopes, as they are commonly referred to, are coached by former NBA standout Dan Majerle. Huggins said he has crossed paths with the man known as “Thunder Dan” but he does not know the GCU coach well.

“I just think we need to play,” Huggins said. “The more experience these guys get, the better prepared they’re going to be for next year.”

• GCU came up short in the WAC title game against New Mexico State, but they got to that point due in large part to the play of junior guard Carlos Johnson.

In the Lopes’ WAC quarterfinal win against Seattle, Johnson scored a career-high 31 points. Against Utah Valley in the semifinal, Johnson — who transferred to GCU from Washington prior to this season and was granted immediate eligibility — bested that mark with 35 points in the win.

Johnson led GCU in scoring this season with a 14.6-points-per-game average.