Over the weekend, the “new” Derek Culver was back for the Mountaineers, as he recorded 28 points and 12 rebounds against Florida.
“Derek and I spent about an hour after practice yesterday (Friday). This game when you break it down is a whole bunch of simple things,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said. “What makes it hard is that you have to do one simple thing to the next, to the next, to the next in a very rapid succession.”
Culver has been dealing with many physical obstacles over the last couple of weeks, especially during the pause. Now, we know that the “new” Derek Culver that coach Huggins loves, is back once again.
Over his 36-year career in major schools, Huggins has coached many great bigs.
From guys like Danny Fortson (1994-97), Kenyon Martin (1996-00) and Jason Maxiell (2001-05) were just a few bigs that Huggins had during his 15 years at Cincinnati.
Fortson was a two-time All-American for the Bearcats in the mid-90s, averaging 18.8 points and 8.7 rebounds over his three years playing for Huggs. The six-foot-7, 260-pound forward help lead Cincinnati to an Elite-8 appearance in ’96.
Kenyon Martin was the 2000 Player of the Year, leading to his No. 1-draft pick selection by the New Jersey Nets. At UC, Martin leaped from his junior to senior year. The Texas native averaged 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game in 1999-00.
Filling in the shoes of a Wooden Player of the Year winner is almost impossible, but Jason Maxiell did a damn good job at doing so. As a four-year player, Maxiell averaged 12.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
In Morgantown, Devin Williams (2013-16) is probably the closest Mountaineer, physicality-wise, that you can compare Culver to. Williams was listed at six-foot-9, 255-pound frame. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native averaged 11.1 points and 8.3 rebounds over his three years at WVU. The once All-Big 12 member help lead Huggins to a Sweet-16 appearance in 2015.
“Derek (Culver) is obviously a premier rebounder,” Huggins said. “I thought Devin (Williams) was a terrific rebounder and so were those other guys (Fortson, Martin and Maxiell) and others that I’ve had over the years. I think with Derek it’s a consistency thing.
“I think Derek could consistently be a double-figure rebound guy. I think he’ll be one of the premier, if not, the premier rebounder in America. But it’s going to take consistency,” Huggins added.
So far as a three-year starter, Culver has entered his name in the conversation of great players under Huggins. The six-foot-10 forward has taken a jump from his sophomore campaign, averaging 14.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in 2020-21. Culver has recorded eight double-doubles in 16 games this season.