"I liked his game, I liked his demeanor, I liked his competitiveness and drive and the way he fights for everything," said Staten, who is from Dayton, Ohio.
"I like his style of play and that's who I try to model my game after."
Canty comes from the New York City area, a hotbed for point guards. Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury, Bob Cousy, Nate Archibald and Mark Jackson are names from another era, but Canty fixates on current NBA star with an old-school style: Chris Paul.
"That's my favorite player," Canty said of the Los Angeles Clippers point guard. "I study him, I see how he acts when they lose, when they win, how he carries himself."
Staten's last game came against Gonzaga, and he occasionally crossed paths with David Stockton, son of NBA legend John Stockton. He crossed up Stockton to set up a mid-range jump shot in the first half, and moments later showed the all-around play that is so vital to the Mountaineers' success.
Staten, who is one of only two players in Division I averaging 16 points, six rebounds and six assists, snuck under the basket, snared an offensive rebound and found Gary Browne, who finished the possession with a jumper.
Canty is coming off a game against one of the nation's top point guards, Penn State's Tim Lindsay (17.9 points, 7.7 assists). Against Lindsay, Canty played 39 of 40 minutes and established career-highs in field goals (10-19), 3-pointers (5-8) and points (28).
It's the big matchups the hardwood's littlest guys embrace.
"The better the competition, the better I play," said Canty, who watched last season's Classic from the stands. "I studied (Staten) to see the things I could've done last year. Every time they play, I watch him and I'm ready for the battle on Saturday."
Staten hasn't had the benefit of seeing Canty's game, but he'll relish the challenge.
"As a basketball player who loves to compete, you have to love those games," Staten said. "I look forward to competing against other good point guards."
Staten and Canty are, clearly, two of the good ones.
Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at chuck.mcg...@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-7949. Follow him on Twitter @chuckmcgill.