|Junior||6’8″ 250||Center||West Virginia||22 Yrs. Old|
|13.6 ppg||8 rpg||2.8 bpg||FG: 43.5%||3 PT: 39.1%|
NBA Comparison: Caleb Swanigan
Strengths: Rim Protection, Rebounding, Inside Scoring
Weaknesses Size, Position Fit, Raw Offensively
Konate arrived on campus as a three star recruit without clarity on where he fit in at the college level. After a quiet freshman season playing 10 minutes per game, he became on the better defenders in college basketball as a sophomore. After that season and thinking about the NBA draft, he elected to come back and work on what he was told needed to improve before making the jump to the next level. The input was that at his size he would need to expand his offensive game away from the basket and prove that he could effectively shoot the basketball. Before going down an injury after 8 games as a junior, he was starting to show signs that he had done that. As a freshman and a sophomore he did not attempt a single three pointer either season before shooting 9 of 23 from behind the arc in his short lived year. He rebounds well, and he is able to use his athleticism strength to outwork opposing players for the ball. Most of his scoring came from putbacks, lobs, and other inside shots which will be much more difficult once you are on the floor with professionals. His offensive numbers were not great as a whole, but he was starting to show a more all around skill set before his injury. It will be much more difficult after college, but at the college level he was an elite shot blocker averaging over 3 per game as a sophomore and just under 3 as a junior. His potential on the defensive end is one of the main reasons that he is in the draft conversations given his limitations on offense.
He lacks a true position fit at just 6’8″ with mainly playing at the center position which will not be a great option at the pro level. Despite showing off some improvement before going down with an injury, the majority of his body of work on the offensive end using skills that will be tough to replicate against the increased size down low in the NBA. If he is able to continue to extend his game outside of the paint, it will give him a much better chance of sticking in the league. While his length and athleticism are solid, there is no guarantee he will have the same success blocking shots that he had in college. He could be a player like Ben Wallace who can just simply play bigger than his listed height and dominate inside on the defensive side of the floor, or he will struggle when matched up against 7 footers. As long as he can figure out how to deal with the increased talent level he projects as an effective rim protector and shot blocker. His knee injury is a bit a mystery considering he was originally supposed to be out 2-4 weeks with no structural damage, which then turned into a season ending injury. The reports out of Morgantown have been that he could have played late in the season, but he was electing to instead prepare for the NBA draft and protect his health rather than returning to the team. He is an effective free throw shooter averaging 79% as a sophomore and 81.3% as a junior adding to the reasons that he has potential to become a consistent shooter.
These blocks give you an idea of his elite rim protection:
Sagaba Konate hosted a BLOCK PARTY in the first half Monday night. 🖐 pic.twitter.com/A7sl7son1X— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 16, 2018
This play shows his athleticism:
West Virginia’s lead is rising, and so is Sagaba Konate!pic.twitter.com/C79halrhvf— Sporting News (@sportingnews) March 19, 2018
The range for Konate is the mid second round to going undrafted. The fact that he missed most of his junior season has hurt his stock, and despite the improvement in his offensive game he has not proven it for very long. With that said, he is shot blocking and defensive abilities as a whole will be intriguing to a team that likes his potential going forward. His ceiling as a professional is a solid power forward/center coming off of the bench, that can be a high level defender while putting up average numbers offensively. The worst case scenario for Konate is that he is unable to improve his offensive skills enough to be effective, or he struggles to replicate his defensive abilities with the size and skill of the NBA, leading him to not stick in the league after getting his chance.