Morgantown, W.Va.–As a freshman, Nathan Adrian appeared to be something special.
He averaged 5.4 points per game and finished with 39 3-pointers, which tied for the sixth most by a WVU freshman in school history.
The Morgantown native shot 41.6 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Adrian looked like he could be a real asset to the Mountaineers over the next three years, but his sophomore campaign didn’t go as planned.
He suffered a wrist injury that plagued the 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward the entire season. He averaged just 2.8 points.
After Adrian underwent wrist surgery when the season ended, WVU had hoped the junior could find his groove. But it has taken a little longer than planned.
In the Mountaineers’ 70-55 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats, Adrian looked like the kid people had seen flashes of during his freshman season.
“I thought Nate had the best game of his career,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “He passed the ball. He kept the ball moving. His passes were good. Defensively, he was really good. He made some shots, but I think his floor game was very good.”
Adrian scored a season-best 10 points and grabbed three rebounds.
“Nate played a good game tonight,” Jaysean Paige said after the Kansas State win. “He played hard. He knocked down shots. Like I said, Nate has been in the gym with me and Tarik (Phillip) working out everyday. So it works out. It all pays off. It was good to see a guy like that have a good game after you see him work hard every day.”
Adrian dropped two 3s and excelled on defense, and it felt good for him to get in a rhythm.
“Oh yeah, it definitely feels good,” Adrian said with a smile.
The former Morgantown High star made the Mountaineers’ first two shots of the game and appeared to be in sync after that.
“It would relax anybody to make the first two shots and get in the flow of the game,” Adrian said. After that I just tried to play hard on D (defense).”
While the fans don’t always see what happens behind-the-scenes, Adrian assures them that he has been working hard and improving every day.
“I have been shooting the ball a lot better in practice,” he said. “I’ve been working on it more and hopefully just keep shooting the ball.”
While Adrian hasn’t been the flashiest player on offense, he has done a lot of good things defensively this year.
“Last year, obviously I couldn’t shoot the ball very well so I started playing D a lot harder,” he said. “I started playing off the ball a lot harder. So that’s really been incorporated in my game.”
WVU could really use Adrian’s offensive touch and defensive skill down the final stretch of the season.