MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–For Derek Culver, the first part of his career at West Virginia was full of ups and downs but it was a learning experience for the freshman.
In the Mountaineers’ exhibition game against Penn State and the season-opener to Buffalo, Culver didn’t see any playing time due to his actions on and off the court.
Then came the suspension that sidelined him for nine games.
It was a humbling experience that the 6-foot-10, 225-pound forward needed to grow up.
“My biggest lesson, I feel like I took out of this was I feel like I needed this because I needed to hold myself accountable,” Culver said. “With that being said, I needed this so I can really understand what’s important and what’s not important and put my priorities in order and keep my ducks in a row.”
WVU head coach Bob Huggins and the other members of the Mountaineer basketball team were in the Youngstown, Ohio natives corner the entire time.
“My teammates were 110 percent supportive of me,” he said. “They text me, call me. ‘Hey, stay engaged. We need you. You’re important to us.’ Having that feeling from the team, that really makes you feel like one.”
Culver’s return came as junior forward Sagaba Konate was shelved with a knee injury.
In his second game against Lehigh, the Warren G. Harding High School graduate notched his first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“He could be an elite rebounder, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Huggins said. “His strength and athleticism, he’s got good hands. I think he could be an elite rebounder.”
While Culver has the potential to be a good basketball player, he still has a lot of work to do.
“We just got to get him to be a little more sound and it would be nice if we could run a set with him,” Huggins said. “We all (tried to get him to slow down), short of shooting him up with some kind of downer. He was that way in high school. He just goes too fast. Once he gets slowed down, he’s pretty good.”
With conference play beginning, WVU could use the emergence of Culver to help them get some wins.
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS