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Examining the West Virginia University basketball roster- returning players

Last week we took a look at the newcomers to the 2019 West Virginia University basketball roster. Today, we take a look at the other side, examining the returning players to the roster. The Mountaineers return just seven players to their roster after a disappointing 2018 season. 

10 G Jermaine Haley 6’7 215 lbs, Senior

In 2019 Jermaine Haley will enter his second, and final season, with the West Virginia Mountaineers. Haley transferred to WVU from Odessa College in Texas back in 2017. Last year in his first season in the gold and blue, Haley had a solid campaign. He started in 24 of West Virginia’s 36 games, averaged 7.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, and led the team with 37 steals. Haley also shot 51.3% from the field, a very solid number, and dished out 87 assists on the season. This year, Haley will once again play a fairly large role in the West Virginia frontcourt. As a senior, Haley will be asked to help lead the younger players on this roster, and once again will be looked at as a key part of the team in 2019.

14 G Chase Harler 6’3 210 lbs, Senior

Two-time West Virginia Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year Chase Harler will enter his final season at West Virginia in 2019. The 6’3 guard has played three seasons with the Mountaineers, and 2018 was by far his best year yet. For the first time in his career, Harler started double-digit games, 17 on the season, and played in all 36. He averaged 22.3 minutes per game to go with 5.4 points per game and 1.2 rebounds and assists a game. He also totaled 11 blocks and 11 steals on the year to go with a total of 43 assists. With an increase in talent on the roster this season, Harler may not see as much playing time this season as he did last year, but it is always valuable to have an experienced senior on the team who can contribute in many different ways like Harler can.

31 F Logan Routt 6’11 250 lbs, Senior

Logan Routt rounds up the senior class for West Virginia this season. The 6’11 big man will be playing in his third and final season in the blue and gold this year. In 2018, Routt was Named to the Academic All-Big 12 Men’s Basketball Second Team and appeared in 34 games including 11 starts. Despite averaging just 2.3 points per game, Routt did tally 12 blocks on the season to go with a total of 72 rebounds. Routt will not play a huge role on this year’s team, but he is a nice backcourt option withs tons of experience to have coming off the bench. 

1 F Derek Culver 6’10 255 lbs, Sophomore

Derek Culver had a very solid first season with the Mountaineers last year, but if they want to make it back to the NCAA Tournament, he is going to have to be even better this season. In his first year at West Virginia Culver averaged 11.5 points per game and a team-leading 9.9 rebounds a game. Culver was Named to the All-Big 12 Second Team and to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team (unanimous selection). Being named All-Big 12 Second Team as a freshman is a huge honor, and it shows what type of player Culver can become as he gets more experience. In a game against TCU this past season, Culver Had 22 points and 21 rebounds, becoming the first WVU player to have a 20-20 game since Mo Robinson in 1977. He also was the first Mountaineer since Rod Thorn in 1961 to have two 20-plus rebound games in a single season. With more talent around him, Culver’s production will only go up this season. Looking for an even bigger year from him in 2019.

2 G Brandon Knapper 6’0 185 lbs Sophomore

In his freshman season at WVU, Brandon Knapper saw a decent amount of playing time. He appeared in  32 games, starting four, and averaged 13.8 minutes per game. In that time he averaged 5 points a game, recorded 46 total assists, and had his career-high points outing against Oklahoma with 25 points. However, Knapper did not have a great year shooting the ball, shooting just .352% from the field and .316% from three on the season. If Brandon Knapper wants to see the court more this season, both those numbers will have to improve. He does not have to be a lock-down shooter by any means, but .35% from the field for a guard is just not going to cut it.

11 F Emmitt Matthews Jr. 6’7 210 lbs, Sophomore

Emmitt Matthews is another player who will need to take a step forward for the Mountaineers in 2019. In his freshman year, he averaged 5.1 points and 3.4 rebounds a game, playing in 32 games and starting 12. Matthews shot just under 41% from the field and 80.9% from the free-throw line. Matthews improved greatly towards the end of the season, scoring in double figures in four of their last six games. With more talent on this year’s roster, Matthews will have to show his worthwhile battling for playing time.

5 G Jordan McCabe 6’0 188 lbs, Sophomore

We finish with sophomore guard Jordan McCabe. Despite not putting up amazing stats last year, McCabe played a large role in 2018. He really was the heart and soul of the Mountaineers team, and always gave 100% regardless of the circumstances. McCabe was named to the Big 12 Academic All-Rookie Team and averaged 5.8 points per game, and led the team with 88 assists. He was also second on the team with 31 steals. McCabe performed very well in the Big 12 Tournament, scoring in double digits in all of West Virginia’s games. This season, McCabe will play an even bigger role on the team. With West Virginia bringing in some shooters, McCabe will have even more chances to dish out assists. Look for a big rise in points per game from McCabe this season, and he has a decent shot at averaging 7-10 assists a game.

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