MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia will be without Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. this upcoming season but the Mountaineers have more depth than recent years.
Bob Huggins’ squad returns several key components of last season’s Sweet 16 team, including starters Sagaba Konate, Esa Ahmad and Wesley Harris.
In fact, the Mountaineers’ frontcourt should be their dominant area. Logan Routt returns and saw significant playing time last season.
Newcomers Derek Culver, Andrew Gordon and Emmitt Matthews Jr. are expected to see playing time as well.
“I think our frontcourt can play with anybody when we get Sags back at 100 percent. Logan gave us really good minutes a year ago, and Derek Culver is 6-10, 260, and might be the fastest guy on the team.
“So, you’ve got those guys and then Esa, Lamont and Wes with a lot of experience. They’re not going to get nervous because there’s people in the stands, and they’ve been in some really difficult places to play. You’ve got the young guys you can try and work in there, too. (The bigs) dominate practice, and they dominate open gym.”
Despite the changes to the WVU lineup, Huggins believes the strength of the frontcourt will benefit the press.
“I think we’re going to play pretty much the way we’ve been playing, but our strength this year is our numbers,” he added. “We’ve got 15 guys. Logan gave up his scholarship so we could have more guys and Taevon (Horton) is walking on, and both of those guys are competitive.”
Culver has a lot of potential but still has a lot of learn.
“He’s lost (with his back to the basket) of course, he’s lost facing it too,” Huggins said. “He thinks he’s a good passer, but I don’t know how in the hell you can throw it out of bounds and think that’s a good pass.”
The Mountaineers’ backcourt looks different this season. Carter and Miles were the faces of Press Virginia.
Now, WVU must rely on Beetle Bolden and Chase Harler to be the experienced vets. Neither has been in leadership roles before nor have played significant minutes.
Brandon Knapper missed last season due to a knee injury and he was sidelined over the summer with a blood clot. However, he is ready to go.
There are several fresh faces in the backcourt. Junior college transfer Jermaine Haley and freshmen Trey Doomes and Jordan McCabe are expected to make an immediate impact.
But how quickly the three learn the defense is yet to be seen.
Fortunately, the Mountaineers have enough guys to rotate in new players and keep fresh legs on the court.
“We can throw a lot of people at them, we’ve just got to make sure we throw it to our team,” Huggins said.
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS