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WVU basketball: Huntington Prep star Macon working toward eligibility

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia basketball welcomed a transfer who is eligible for the 2012-13 season, but Tuesday's addition also underscores the eligibility concern of the top recruit in the 2012 class.

Senior Matt Humphrey, who previously played at Oregon and Boston College, joined the Mountaineers on scholarship.

He's immediately eligible because he graduated from B.C. and played three seasons in his four years in college. Humphrey also gives WVU 13 scholarship players currently enrolled in school, the maximum allowed by NCAA rules.

WVU returns 10 scholarship players and freshmen Eron Harris and Terry Henderson are enrolled in summer classes. The third player from the 2012 recruiting class, Huntington Prep's four-star power forward Elijah Macon, is not enrolled and is still working toward satisfying the NCAA's eligibility requirements.

"I can't speak for what West Virginia is doing, but I can speak for what Elijah is doing at the moment, which is taking classes back home in Columbus," Huntington Prep Coach Rob Fulford said. "He needs to take three classes this summer - he's actually taking them over and you have to do it at the original school. The NCAA doesn't let you take courses over at a different school."

Macon, a 6-foot-9 forward, transferred to Huntington Prep from Ohio's Marion Franklin High, where he is now trying to earn grades that will replace lower grades.

The NCAA requires 16 core classes to qualify and Macon has done all of that, as well as everything required to graduate. Eligibility is based on a sliding scale where a higher GPA means a player can score a little lower on the ACT, and vice versa.

The NCAA accepts the best 16 grades in core classes. Fulford said Macon, who has been back home since late last month, has a 2.4 GPA. He said Macon is taking the three core classes to improve his GPA and then lower the mark he has to hit with the ACT he took June 9.

"He needed to come up about four points on the ACT," Fulford said. "With the additional three summer classes, where he's hoping to knock out some Ds and hopefully replace them with some As, he can score a little lower. But even with three As, he still needs to come up about four points on the ACT."

Macon, who played three years at Marion Franklin, was ranked No. 13 among 2012 power forwards by Rivals.com and Scout.com ranked him No. 12 at his position. He committed to the Mountaineers in June 2009 after his freshman year, but later decommitted. Macon finally committed for good in November after he moved to Huntington Prep to focus on academics.

"I think everyone can be cautiously optimistic, but every college coach has a responsibility to do what's in the best interest of his team," Fulford said. "If there's a kid out there who's ready to go and he's a good player - and obviously they do need a shooter, so it's a good pick-up - I think you can understand making a decision that helps the team.

"But if Elijah makes it, they'll figure it out. If he qualifies, he'll have a scholarship."

Mountaineers Coach Bob Huggins wouldn't speculate about the future of his 2012-13 roster Tuesday except to say, "We'll be fine." He has options, including the enrollment of Macon.

He could enroll as a walk-on and prove himself before earning a scholarship later. WVU now has three seniors on the roster (Humphrey and forwards Deniz Kilici and Dominique Rutledge) and two players committed to the 2013 recruiting class, though neither Morgantown High forward Nathan Adrian nor Georgia forward Brandon Watkins can sign before November. At least on scholarship could be available for the 2013-14 season.

Even if Macon enrolls as a walk-on and earns a scholarship and Adrian and Watkins sign and enroll, WVU could still lose one or more players to create space for Macon.

Macon could enroll on scholarship, which would mean a player on scholarship right now would either leave the team or forfeit his scholarship. Macon could also choose to play at a prep school or junior college and commit and sign with WVU again in the future.

"We all knew at the beginning of the year he'd have to do summer school," Fulford said. "Obviously, there's a chance he's not going to pale it, but hopefully he takes care of business this summer."

Humphrey, a Chicago native, takes care of a concern the Mountaineers had on the perimeter. He was second on the Eagles in scoring last season with 10.3 points per game and managed double figures in 17 of 31 games. He also played 30 minutes per game and finished with 50 assists and 34 steals.

The Mountaineers had their worst 3-point shooting percentage in school history in 2011-12 (29.8 percent). The 6-5 Humphrey made 55 3-pointers. Only Truck Bryant (71) made more for WVU last season.

Humphrey, however, shot just 31.2 percent from 3-point range with the Eagles and shot 35.4 and 33.9 percent while at Oregon (2008-10). In his three seasons, 63.5, 61.7 and 51.5 percent of his field goal attempts have been 3-point shots. He shoots only 35 percent from the floor for his career.

Still, the Mountaineers were undersized in the backcourt last season and played two and sometimes three point guards together. The 6-1 Gary Browne and 5-11 Jabarie Hinds return for their sophomore seasons and they'll be joined by fellow sophomore point guard Juwan Staten, a 6-1 transfer from Dayton who sat out last season.

WVU recruited a pair of shooting guards in the 6-3 Terry Henderson and 6-2 Eron Harris, but Humphrey gives WVU a little more size and seasoning at the position.

"Matt will give us much needed experience on the front line," Huggins said. "In having played in the Pac-12 and ACC, his familiarity with multiple offensive and defensive schemes will help us at both ends of the floor.

"His size and length will definitely make us a better defensive team on the perimeter and should help us create matchup problems for opposing defenses. He will give us another 3-point threat, which will enable us to stretch defenses and open up the posts for our inside guys."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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