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Opinion: Addressing the State of WVU Basketball Following Tournament Exit

As I am writing this, it has been about 3 hours since the Mountaineers lost in the NCAA Tournament. I’ve given it a little bit of time to digest but I thought it would be good to write out my thoughts and opinion on the team during this off-season and for next year.

I’ve got nothing on me. No research, no stats, nothing. Just a keyboard to write down my thoughts.

First of all, we need to address the elephant in the room after the game last night. The fact that WVU “fans” are sending death threats to players and their families is ridiculous. We don’t condone any bullying in any way but to student athletes who just sacrificed a year in a pandemic to give us entertainment and to take us away from what’s been going on, there’s no room for that. If you participated in any harassment towards any WVU athlete, at any point, please do not bother following us anymore 🙂


Okay, now some positive thoughts! Yes, we lost to the No. 11 seed first weekend of the tournament. Yes, we did not finish the year as we planned. But let’s remember all of the adversity this team has played through! With all of the COVID hurdles and Oscar transferring, it’s a blessing we were able to be a competitive team after all of that. If you think Bob Huggins deserves blame for this season, I don’t even want to debate with you. Huggs changed his game plan half-way through the season and brought us a team that had potential to make a deep run.

I think there’s a REALLY good chance we bring back everyone for next year, which would be so great for the program. No body on this team but Gabe has played in the NCAA Tournament, and Gabe wasn’t even here when it happened.

The three players we need to keep an eye on about leaving (in order from most likely to least likely to leave):

  • Taz Sherman
  • Miles McBride
  • Derek Culver
  • Gabe Osabuohien

I truly don’t see these four leaving. Taz has hinted a few times that it “maybe” would be his last time. The only player here we have to worry about going to the NBA is Deuce. Very few sites that produce mock drafts have McBride going mid-second round. Derek had a rough last couple of games, so I don’t think he’ll get too much hype (though he should).

I think, as of March 21, 2021, it’s safe to say we’ll bring back the whole team from this season. There may be a transfer with the new transfer rule? Maybe? The NCAA is now allowing players a free transfer, where they don’t have to sit out for a year like it used to be. I don’t agree with this at all and think it’ll ruin the game but that’s for another day.

A problem that WILL arise is the AMOUNT of players that West Virginia will have next year if everyone comes back. It’s never a bad thing to have too many players but some guys will have to sacrifice playing time possibly. I’ve made three tables in organizing the playing time and how it may be a problem.

Starting Lineup

Miles McBrideJr.
Sean McNeilSr.
Emmitt Matthews Jr.Sr.
Jalen BridgesR-So.
Derek CulverSr.

Bench

Taz ShermanCOVID-Sr.
Gabe Osabuohien COVID-Sr.
Jordan McCabeSr.
Kedrian JohnsonSr.
Isaiah CottrellSo.

Here’s where it gets interesting…

Question Marks

Seny NdiayeSo.
Taj ThweattSo.
Seth WilsonFr.
Kobe JohnsonFr.

If I remember right, there are 13 scholarships allowed for Division I. Maybe with COVID, the NCAA will allow exceptions? But, if not, someone is going to unfortunately have to go, with 14 players on scholarship if everyone stays. Just something to think about during the summer.

In conclusion, I think the program is on a start for another great era. The upperclassmen are improving each year, while the underclassmen show tons of potential. I’m very excited about Seth Wilson and Kobe Johnson joining the team next year. Expect Seth Wilson to be next great WVU guard that Huggins steals from Ohio.

I think the future is bright for WVU basketball and hopefully the team sticks together and uses the loss on Sunday against Syracuse as motivation to make a run next March!

(Top Photo: Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

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