Juwan Staten – The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – From West Virginia to the NBA and its G League, and a few different countries in between, Juwan Staten has reached just about every level possible in his basketball career.
From 2012-15, he was a key component in ‘Press Virginia,’ WVU’s tough, defensively dominant style of play. These days, you can often find him in the stands at the Coliseum, but much like the current look of the program, Staten has evolved.
As a father of two, his involvement with the game has led him to the other side of the boundaries.
“It’s been a huge challenge, honestly,” Staten said on the latest episode of The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast. “That’s why I shifted a little bit and started to do things outside of playing with going back to school, finishing my master’s, being a grad assistant. Just trying to give myself another lane to move into. Leaving the country and playing is hard when you have kids, because you are forced to be away from them for a little while. That was getting to me a bit throughout my career, so I wanted to stay within basketball, see what I could do with basketball, and create a different lane with it.”
That’s exactly what Staten has been doing over the last year and a half. He served as a graduate assistant for Bob Huggins’ 2020-21 squad and created his own business, Hard 2 Guard Skills Academy. Staten works with players of all levels and ages, and he’s able to bring a professional approach to the athlete’s development and training.
During his stint with the Mountaineers last season, he was able to work closely with guard Deuce McBride, who is now with the New York Knicks and has been tearing it up in the G League.
“Working with Deuce was new for me. I’ve always kind of helped my teammates because I consider myself a leader, but this was a totally different spectrum helping a guy who is younger than me from that coaching side,” Staten said. “I was able to learn a lot not only from coaching college basketball, but I got to talk to a lot of NBA scouts and learn what they were looking for from a player like Deuce at the next level. Mixing that with what I went through in the process of trying to go the NBA route, I was able to teach him a lot of things I went through.”
Like many Mountaineer fans, Staten was immediately impressed by what he saw from McBride, who earned All-Big 12 accolades last year before he was selected in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft.
“Deuce is a student of the game. He wanted to work every day. We put a lot of time in, and I guess the time paid off,” Staten said. “Not saying I’m taking credit for any of that, because Deuce was a great player before we started working, but I definitely think I helped him out in a couple of ways, and he was very receptive to everything I was telling him.”
As a sophomore, McBride was one of the best in the Big 12 Conference. He led WVU to a 19-10 season capped with an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 15.9 points per game and reached double figures in all but five games. He even saw a pair of 30-plus points performances.
McBride was selected by the Knicks with the 36th pick in the draft. While he has seen time on the court with the team, he’s been one of the organization’s top players for their G-League squad, Westchester.
“It’s been a huge transformation,” Staten said of McBride. “I’ve seen him get a lot better with his decision-making playing the point, using ball screens, a lot of things we talked about and worked on. His handle is looking good, his shot has improved, too. I know that was one of the things they questioned him a little about going through the process — could he be a shooter at the next level? I think those are things he is answering and continuing to prove.”
While Staten thinks “it’s definitely time” for McBride to get his shot with the Knicks, he knows from experience just how valuable playing in the G-League is.
“It’s helping him with confidence. That is the biggest thing playing in the NBA — the confidence — because everybody there is a great player,” he said. “He’s not just having normal games, he’s is having amazing games. I think it is proving to him he can do it and building his hunger level to get out there with the Knicks and show what we can do.”
Staten and McBride had very similar roles during their respective careers at WVU, but it was before he even started mentoring McBride that Staten noticed they had something else in common: their pull-up jump shot.
“When I was still playing overseas and just watching the games, I noticed how quick he got to his shot and how high he jumped on his jump shot,” Staten said. “Since then, when he was going through the process, he came to me and said, ‘I want to work on my ball handling. I want to be able to create more moves off the dribble.’ That was something I was really good at.
McBride has had a knack for creating off the dribble in the G League, knocking down a nasty pull-up jumper during a recent game. Afterward, Staten posted a side-by-side view of two videos on Twitter: one clip of McBride working on that exact move with Staten, the other of him executing in a professional game.”
“That was something he wanted to add to his game, so to see that translate to the next level was a big thing for me,” Staten said. “It gave me confidence knowing I could help people out and teach them things that can translate to the next level.”
Mentoring the next generation of basketball players is how Staten can give back to the sport that gave him so much. While coaching is something he wants to pursue in the future, his current focus is his family and his business. He learned the ins and outs of the profession from one of the best college coaches of all time, Bob Huggins, who is a finalist for the 2022 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Now, through his developmental program, he’s able to take everything he’s learned from his WVU experiences and see it impact the play of others. He’s also learning a lot about himself as he navigates this next chapter.
“It’s helped me learn a lot more about basketball. I wish I would have started to do something like this sooner because I feel like I would be a better player if I had. It’s definitely gratifying,” Staten said. “Starting a business was something way out of my comfort zone. I’m a super laid-back person. On a regular day, I probably don’t talk to many people outside of my family and my kids, so it’s made me get out and market myself more.”
You can hear the full interview with former WVU guard Juwan Staten on the latest episode of the Gold and Blue Nation Podcast.