Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.
6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Grundy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.
West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.
Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.
Thursday evening West Virginia landed its third commitment in the Class of 2016, as three-star power forward Sagaba Konate made his pledge to join Bob Huggins’ program next year. Konate, who attends Kennedy Catholic HS in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, also held offers from programs such as Pittsburgh, Purdue, Dayton and George Mason.
The 6-foot-8 Konate comes from a family that has produced multiple college basketball players, with older brother Bakary playing at Minnesota and three others having completed their respective college playing careers.
Konate joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class to date, and in regards to strength and athleticism he should fit in well with the big men the Mountaineers utilize. Jonathan Holton and Marshall transfer TyQuane Goard are the lone seniors in the WVU front court this season, with Holton being a critical factor in the team’s full-court pressure defense.
Among the front court players with eligibility remaining beyond the upcoming season are juniors Devin Williams, Nathan Adrian and Brandon Watkins, redshirt sophomore Elijah Macon and freshmen Esa Ahmad and Lamont West. Watkins, who has struggled with health issues throughout his sophomore season, underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in late May and is likely to sit out this season as a medical redshirt.
Shooting guard Maverick Rowan’s junior season highlight video
There aren’t many questions remaining in the Class of 2015, with many freshmen already on their college campuses attending summer school and going through workouts with their new teams. One question that does remain is where Maverick Rowan, who announced in June that he was working towards a move back into the 2015 class from 2016, will attend college.
Rowan averaged 29.5 points per game as a junior at Cardinal Gibbons HS in Florida last year, and he’s considering Louisville, NC State, St. John’s and West Virginia. Above are highlights from Rowan’s junior season as put together by Hoop Diamonds.