Devin Williams wasn’t clairvoyant but he was certainly onto something at the time.
After the junior announced his intentions to forego his final season of eligibility following last year, he sat down with several people prior to leaving Morgantown.
First up was Elijah Macon, who was going to be tasked with filling the void left by Williams and then his head coach Bob Huggins.
Williams left behind 13.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per night for the Mountaineers and served as the primary low-post option in both categories. Not an easy job to fill by any means.
“Devin told me he sat down with Elijah and said it’s your turn to step up. I said do you think he will? And he said coach, he will,” Huggins said.
It’s taken some time but now Macon is living up to that promise and playing the best basketball of his career as he has developed into a consistent contributor for the Mountaineers in the post.
Over the past 12 games, which includes both the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments, the redshirt junior is averaging 9.6 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 57-percent from the floor during that stretch.
His 75 rebounds during those 12-games is actually more than the 65 he recorded the rest of the season combined as Macon has asserted himself on both ends of the floor calling for the ball on offense and crashing the glass.
It’s the type of production expected out of Macon when he originally signed with West Virginia as a four-star prospect. But it took time.
Playing sparingly behind Williams during his first two years after sitting out his first season on campus, Macon finished with just 4.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game over those first two campaigns. However, with both Williams and fellow rebound machine Jonathan Holton gone from the roster he knew that he didn’t have much of a choice than to become more productive.
He cut 12-pounds from his frame as he worked to get into better shape and improved his diet. He also dealt with adjusting to tragedy off the court with the passing of his mother.
College basketball is a cycle where when one player leaves, another is tasked to step up in their place. Macon is part of a three-man team with senior Brandon Watkins and freshman Sagaba Konate to help fill Williams’ production the team but down the stretch his star has shined the brightest.
“It allowed Elijah to really grow and I think we’d all agree that Elijah is a totally different player today than what he was probably even when the season started,” he said.
And it’s coming at just the right time as the Mountaineers look to advance further than the Sweet 16 with a matchup with Gonzaga set for Thursday.