Sunday, April 23, 2017

Mountaineers prepare to say goodbye to five seniors

Nathan Adrian (11) has scored 740 points and grabbed 475 rebounds during  his career at WVU.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Ruff, BGS)

Nathan Adrian (11) has scored 740 points and grabbed 475 rebounds during his career at WVU.
(Photo Credit: Jeff Ruff, BGS)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–As they say, all good things must come to an end.

On Friday night, the end is here for five members of the West Virginia University basketball team.

Nathan Adrian, James Long, Teyvon Myers, Tarik Phillip and Brandon Watkins will all play their final regular season game in front of a sold out raucous Coliseum crowd.

And it will be a bittersweet moment for all.

“They compete and they’ve competed at the highest level,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “I’ve said it many times. This league is harder than the Big East was because there is no bottom in this league. They’ve done it against the best out there. These guys have probably played against ranked teams more than any time in school history and those guys have been a part of beating the No. 1 ranked team in the country a couple of times.”

James "Beetle" Bolden (3) and Teyvon Myers (0) during WVU's win at Oklahoma on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. (Photo Credit: Jeff Ruff, BGS)

James “Beetle” Bolden (3) and Teyvon Myers (0) during WVU’s win at Oklahoma on Wednesday, February 8, 2017.
(Photo Credit: Jeff Ruff, BGS)

Whether it was for four years or two, each one of those five young men gave their all for their tenure at the school.

“They’ve done a lot of really good things and a lot of it is because they do play together and they play so hard,” Huggins said.

For Adrian and Long, both were natives of the Mountain State who got to live their dream of wearing the old gold and blue.

“I am just grateful for the last four years,” Adrian said. “I’ve made a lot of memories, had a lot of fun.”

“I can’t thank Huggs enough for giving me the opportunity to put West Virginia on my chest and help develop me every day into becoming a better person,” Long said. “This group of guys has been so special because we just constantly put our heads down and work. That’s what Huggs does every day and we just try and take on his persona.”

James Long (13) and Jevon Carter (2) celebrate WVU's win over Kansas State on Saturday, February 11, 2017. (Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS)

James Long (13) and Jevon Carter (2) celebrate WVU’s win over Kansas State on Saturday, February 11, 2017.
(Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS)

While Long isn’t an every day star, he works just as hard if not harder than most of his teammates. The senior will do whatever it takes for the Mountaineers to get the win.

“I understand I’m not going to play 30 minutes a game, or any minutes most of the time, but I don’t care,” he said. “I say it all the time, I just want West Virginia to win games so if the energy is down I will try and pick us up in that area. If it’s scout team and I’m a certain player I try and emulate him and how he plays and do what he does. Honestly, I just try and do whatever I can to help us win.”

For Watkins, his time as a Mountaineer has been anything but easy. The senior forward has had to face adversity ranging from injuries to whether or not his heart was still in it.

But Watkins wouldn’t change a minute of that.

Brandon Watkins celebrates WVU's win over VMI. (Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS)

Brandon Watkins celebrates WVU’s win over VMI.
(Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS)

“I had fun during it all,” he said. “I’m appreciative of what I’ve been through.”

Playing the game they love for WVU has meant so much to these five seniors. When each one of them came in, their goal was to win and represent the state.

“When we all came in, we all wanted to win,” Watkins said. “That was our mindset. In four years I think we did do that a little bit. I’m happy with that.”

Over the course of four seasons, there has been a lot of good and some bad but no one can deny the effort given from this group.

“(We are a) very hard working group, Nate, James, Tey, Brandon, myself,” Phillip said. “We are just happy to be here. That’s the main thing. It gave us an opportunity to play for West Virginia and represent them and that’s what we did.”

Tarik Phillip (12) guards Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte (13) during the Cowboys 82-75 win over WVU on Saturday, February 4, 2017.  (Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS)

Tarik Phillip (12) guards Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte (13) during the Cowboys 82-75 win over WVU on Saturday, February 4, 2017.
(Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS)

“We had good chemistry as a team,” Myers added. “We all love each other on and off the court. That’s one of the things I am going to miss the most about being here.”

And their time in Morgantown has flown by.

“I feel like it was just the blink of an eye for real,” Myers said. “I wish I could play another year and years after but it’s not the way it is.”

The Mountaineers’ season is far from over with the post season on the horizon but Senior Night against Iowa State is sure to be an emotional one when these five players walk down the carpet for the last time.

 

Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS

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