After a surprising, early exit from the NCAA Tournament last March, West Virginia found themselves with their first preseason Top-10 ranking since the 1963 season. And as everybody knows, with high rankings come high expectations. Well, nobody on this year’s team came into the 2009-10 season with higher expectations than sophomore Devin Ebanks.
Ebanks, one of the top NBA prospects in the nation, exploded onto the scene with a huge second half of his freshman season that showed people a little glimpse of just how good he could be.
The lanky forward, who has been compared to Rudy Gay by NBA scouts, struggled during the non-conference part of the schedule, but Big East play was when he really started heating up, averaging 11.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game against conference opponents, including the Big East Tournament, which many people considered to be his coming out party.
But what was supposed to be his banner year before he rode off into the sunset that is the NBA got off to a little bit of a rocky start as Ebanks sat out the first three games of the season with what coach Bob Huggins described as “personal issues.”
When he came back on the second day of the 76 Classic over Thanksgiving weekend, he torched Texas A&M for 14 points and nine rebounds in his 29 minutes off the bench and kept playing well, despite not getting his first start until the Mountaineers’ 76-66 win over Ole Miss at the Coliseum.
Until his disappointing game against Notre Dame on Saturday where he was held scoreless for the first time since last December, there was just one game that he had played in where he didn’t reach double figures.
Even with his stellar stats though, a lot of Mountaineer faithful doubted whether or not Ebanks would be ready to make the leap to the league after this year or not.
In some games you can see why they would be a little skeptical (Purdue), but in other games, like his career day against Seton Hall where he put up a near triple-double, he looked like the lottery pick that people have been projecting him to be.
The fact is, and I noticed this in the first half of the Rutgers game the other day when he had seven points in what seemed like the blink of an eye, Devin is an unbelievably talented player who has the ability to take over the game just about whenever he wants to and if he decides to stay for another year, I just might throw a party in the streets. But if he decides to leave, then that’s fine too.
The point of what I’m trying to say is, players like Devin Ebanks don’t come around very often and West Virginia fans better enjoy every chance to watch him while they still can.