MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–When Elijah Macon committed to West Virginia University as a sophomore in high school, tall expectations were placed upon him. He was predicted to do big things but never quite lived up to his potential.
On Saturday afternoon, Macon played with fire and passion and emerged as the athlete everyone thought he could be. The Cincinnati, Ohio native recorded 17 points, 12 rebounds and one assist in the Mountaineers 83-74 double overtime victory against Texas Tech.
“That’s the Elijah Macon that everybody thought we got when we recruited him,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “His attitude has been so much better. He’s become extremely coachable. He’s bought in more to trying to understand —not just play basketball, but understand basketball. We were supposed to run a back-cut when they were staring at the ball but it wasn’t suppose to be him. Then he back-cut the guy and looked over at me and winked. He’s listening.”
It was the performance Macon’s teammates knew he was capable of.
“Finally, the guy is capable of it,” senior forward Nathan Adrian said. “He can come out and do it whenever he wants so he should do it every night.”
At the half, the 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward had just four points and two rebounds but he exploded when the Mountaineers needed it the most. As the game progressed, Macon’s effort continued to increase.
“He was locked in,” senior guard Tarik Phillip. “He executed down the stretch.”
It was the junior’s excitement that helped him find the net.
“He was just excited to play,” Adrian said. “He wanted to go out there and play hard and e did. Good things come from that.”
While Macon’s journey has been anything but tranquil, his teammates and coaches have been in his corner every step of the way.
“We’ve been instilling confidence in him,” Phillip said. “Coaches have been instilling confidence in him. “He’s going to keep getting better.”
Over the last few weeks, it has been apparent that Macon’s confidence is on the rise as his play continues to improve.
WVU will need big games Macon as it prepares for its run in March.
Hopefully, his faith and newfound inspiration will continue to benefit the big man.
“I prayed,” Macon said. “I’ve been talking to my mom, staying in touch with my family and friends before the game. Just motivate myself. Listening to my Zen music. Just getting ready to play.”