Huggins Analyzes WVU’s Reshaped Basketball Roster | WVU | West Virginia Mountaineers sports coverage – Blue Gold News - Techy Hunters


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Huggins Analyzes WVU’s Reshaped Basketball Roster | WVU | West Virginia Mountaineers sports coverage – Blue Gold News

Bob Huggins

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s basketball roster has been in flux since the end of the 2020-21 season.

That doesn’t mean that head coach Bob Huggins is displeased with the way things currently look for the Mountaineers, though, as most of the team’s newcomers get enrolled at WVU.

“We like our roster,” said Huggins in a Zoom press conference on Tuesday. “We don’t have probably as much size as what we’ve had the last couple of years, but I think we have guys who are going to be able to defend the rim and may be a little more versatile. I like our guys; I like our team.”

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Dimon Carrigan (6-9, 215 lbs., Sr.), a transfer from Florida International, and Pauly Paulicap (6-8, 225 lbs., Sr.), a transfer from DePaul, are both at WVU now and working out with their new team. Incoming freshmen guards Seth Wilson (6-3, 185 lbs.) and Kobe Johnson (6-4, 207 lbs.) also have been enrolled at West Virginia since mid-June. That leaves only two other signees – Old Dominion transfer Malik Curry (6-1, 180 lbs.) and Jamel King (6-7, 190 lbs., Fr.) – who have not yet arrived at WVU, and both of those are expected to be in Morgantown soon.

“He’s really good at attacking the rim,” Huggins said of Curry, who averaged 15.7 points and 3.6 assists per game for ODU last year while earning second-team all-Conference USA honors. “Should Deuce (McBride) not return, we need someone who can put pressure on the rim. Taz (Sherman) and Sean (McNeil) can both really score, but they’re not great at attacking the rim. Malik can really attack the rim. I think he’s a guy who can get other guys shots because of his ability to penetrate. I really like what I saw from him.”

Malik Curry

Curry’s exact role in West Virginia’s backcourt is still a bit up in the air, as it will depend on the stay-or-go decisions of McBride and McNeil. Those two, as well as Sherman and center Derek Culver, all declared for the NBA draft at the end of the 2020-21 season. Culver is foregoing his future college eligibility in an attempt to establish a professional career, while Sherman announced last month that he was returning to WVU for the 2021-22 campaign. Neither McBride nor McNeil have revealed their future plans yet, though.

McBride’s NBA stock is rising, as his strong performance at the recent NBA combine has sent his draft projection higher and higher. He’s now viewed as a lower-end of the first-round pick by most NBA mock drafts.

McNeil is not projected to be picked in the two-round NBA draft, which will take place July 29. Thus most expect the 6-foot-3 guard to return to West Virginia for his junior season, though he hasn’t made any such public announcement to this point. “There’s nothing official yet on Sean’s decision,” explained Huggins when asked about McNeil’s status.

After leading WVU in scoring (15.9 points per game), assists (4.8), steals (1.9) and minutes played (34.1) last season, McBride would be a huge asset for the Mountaineers again this coming year, though his return to the college ranks is looking more and more remote with his rising NBA stock.

“Deuce has been really good,” Huggins said of the 6-foot-2 sophomore’s individual and combine workouts for pro teams. “He’s keeping an open mind, and he certainly wants to do what’s in his best interest, which we’re all on board with.”

Even if McBride is not with WVU next year, Sherman (13.4 points per game) and McNeil (12.2 points per game) would be important resources to the Mountaineers in 2021-22.

“Those guys were two of the best shooters in our league,” noted Huggins, as McNeil made 38.8% of his 3-point shots last season while Sherman made 35.9% of his. “They can get going and make shots. I also think they will continue to get better in other areas. We certainly need them to pass it better and guard better, but I’m confident both those guys can do that.”

West Virginia forward Isaiah Cottrell 

Another important question for the ’21-’22 Mountaineers is the health of forward Isaiah Cottrell. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward tore his Achilles 10 games into last season and missed the rest of the campaign. Often such an injury takes a 12-month recovery.

“We’re thinking Isaiah is going to be full-go,” stated Huggins, whose club was 19-10 last season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. “How about adding a 6-foot-10 guy who can pass it and shoot it, put the ball on the floor, spread the defense?

“He looks good,” WVU’s veteran coach said of the redshirt freshman’s rehab. “They haven’t turned him loose yet. He’s doing all the shooting drills and those types of things. It’s just a matter of stopping and starting and cutting, and they haven’t turned him loose to do those things yet.”

There are going to be a number of individual changes from last season to this coming one for the Mountaineers. In terms of the team’s play, Huggins wants to see some changes there as well.

“Offensively we have to pass the ball better,” he explained. “We didn’t pass the ball very well last year. That really hurt us.

“We also have to guard better. We didn’t guard very well,” added Huggins, who holds a 900-381 record during his career as a college head coach. “We were better offensively in terms of throwing it close and scoring, and also making shots, but we didn’t pass it and didn’t handle it very well. We had way too many turnovers. And we have to defend better. We didn’t defend nearly as well as we have in the past.”

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