MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s prized freshman newcomer Esa Ahmad spoke with media members for the first time today prior to the Mountaineers practice session.
Aside from adjusting to being in front of cameras and being swamped with questions, Ahmad is also adjusting to the overall feel of collegiate basketball.
“It’s been a big adjustment for me,” said Ahmad. “Coming here from high school, just adjusting to the practices, weight room, classes, it’s been a big adjustment for me but I think I’ve been managing pretty well.”
Ahmad stands at 6-foot-8 and weighs in at 225 pounds. While definitely bringing size to the floor, Ahmad’s most quality trait might just be his versatility.
Coach Bob Huggins has raved continuously about Ahmad’s talent and similarities to former West Virginia great Da’Sean Butler. The key of the comparison is that Butler could play a wide array of positions, as can Ahmad.
“I think he could play (the) two, three or four,” Huggins said. “He can rebound. Obviously he guarded a bigger guy in high school but honestly I think he’s capable of guarding on the perimeter.”
Ahmad himself is confident he can play, and succeed, anywhere on the floor.
“I think it says a lot,” he said. “I can play anywhere. I can guard on the perimeter a lot, I can guard on the post, but wherever Coach wants me to play, that’s where I’m gonna play… My biggest strengths, my versatility. I can play anywhere. Posting up, taking guys off the dribble, I’m just working on my game every day.”
“I think I’m doing pretty well,” Ahmad said about adjusting to the speed change between high school basketball and Division I collegiate basketball. “I still got room for improvement, but I think as the season goes on I’ll be good.”
As for the infamous Bob Huggins-style press, Ahmad says the team hasn’t gotten into it that much yet, but he’s learning the trick of the trade from his teammates.
“Just learning from the older guys, paying attention to what they do, and just soaking everything in. That’s what I’m trying to do,” he said.
Ahmad added that the entire team has taken him under their wing. More particularly, he credited Devin Williams, Daxter Miles and Jaysean Paige with keeping him on track and helping him adjust to the atmosphere.
Ahmad and the Mountaineers will make their first 2015-16 appearance in Morgantown on Oct. 24 at the WVU Coliseum for the annual Gold-Blue Debut. Tip is set for 7 p.m. following a banner-hanging ceremony in which the 2014-15 Sweet 16 banner will be put on display in the rafters.