Even before he signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Toronto Raptors, Sagaba Konate made the correct choice. Had it resulted any differently, whether that had been being drafted or going overseas to follow in the footsteps of many past West Virginia greats, it still would have been the right choice because it was the one he made for himself.
Would Konate have improved his NBA stock with another year in Morgantown? In a perfect situation, yes. Life, however, is far from perfect and re-aggravating his lingering knee injury or worse would have at best kept his stock where it fell to this season or at worst completely snuffed it out to the point he didn’t receive a UDFA contract offer.
Everyone knows that college sports are a business, but many are loathe to accept that same reasoning from the players. Konate missed most of 2018-2019 with a legitimate injury and by the time he was *potentially* able to return to game action, the season was too far gone for him to have made any tangible difference. He made a business decision and that decision (one that included active and visible support of his teammates from the bench) was far from the biggest issue with last season’s disaster. Too many have put the burden of that season on Konate for making a choice that we all have made, the one that gives the most efficient way to supporting ourself and our families.
On the flip side, Sagaba Konate also made the correct choice for the foundation of West Virginia’s future success in what may be the start of the final act of Bob Huggins’ Hall of Fame career (seriously, put him in).
That’s not to say that losing a player like Konate makes a team better, but it does create an easier path to lineup management for Bob Huggins. Jordan McCabe, Emmitt Matthews, and Derek Culver developed late in the season into a core trio that clicked in the Big 12 tournament until it ran out of gas against Kansas. The addition of Konate would not be a 2018 Esa Ahmad situation where we would be force-feeding minutes to someone seemingly unwilling to do anything positive on a basketball court, but one that may slow down the development of what could be a Final Four unit two to three years down the line. Finding a way to satisfy a trio of Konate, Culver, and Oscar Tshiebwe on offense may have been one that would prove to be impossible for Huggins and may open up more opportunities for a scoring wing like Sam McNeil, who should be the beneficiary of many Jordan McCabe kick outs in 2019-2020.
In the end, the success of Sagaba Konate and the success of West Virginia basketball do not have to be mutually exclusive. A lost final season in Morgantown does not ruin the memory of the many highlight blocks or take his name from the WVU record book. Rather than settle into the could have beens, celebrate the past and prepare for the excitement of the future - both for Sags and West Virginia basketball.