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Opinion: Looking at WVU Basketball Without Deuce McBride

After weeks and months of anticipation waiting on the decisions from Miles “Deuce” McBride and Sean McNeil, the Mountaineers finally have an idea of what the 2021-22 basketball roster will look like.

McBride announced on Friday night that he will not return to West Virginia and instead go to play in the NBA. McNeil on Saturday announced his return to WVU.

West Virginia men’s basketball roster ’21-’22

PlayerClassPosition
Jalen BridgesSo.Forward
Dimon Carrigan5th Sr.Forward
Malik Curry5th Sr.Guard
Isaiah CottrellR-Fr.Forward
Kedrian JohnsonSr.Guard
Kobe JohnsonFr.Guard
Jamel KingFr.Forward
Sean McNeilSr.Guard
Seny NdiayeSo.Forward
Gabe Osabuohien5th Sr.Forward
Pauly Paulicap5th Sr.Forward
Taz Sherman5th Sr.Guard
Taj ThweattSo.Forward
Seth WilsonFr. Guard

Now let’s take a look at the departures from this off-season:

Derek CulverForward
Emmitt Matthews Jr.Forward
Miles McBrideGuard
Jordan McCabeGuard

First of all, I think the staff did a fantastic job at filling in the holes lost from the departures.

Malik Curry is a guard from Old Dominion who possesses some of the similar traits that McBride had. Like McBride, Curry can get to the rim with ease and finish in the paint or find the open teammate to pass it to. Expect players like Sean McNeil, Taz Sherman, Jalen Bridges and Isaiah Cottrell to thrive from deep if Curry can find them. In his second year at Old Dominion, Curry averaged 15.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals in 20 games. As much as it hurt to lose a talent like Deuce, Curry can come in and still bring great experience and talent to West Virginia in 2021-22.

Dimon Carrigan and Pauly Paulicap are two big men that were brought in to get more big bodies on the floor. Last season after Oscar Tshiebwe transferred, Derek Culver was set with the task of trying to play big in the paint on defense but he couldn’t be too aggressive or else WVU would have to play small ball with Gabe Osabuohien. Carrigan comes from Florida International, while Paulicap started at DePaul last season. Both Carrigan and Paulicap are known for their defense and rebounding as they combined for 12.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game.

The coaching staff was also able to bring in three true freshmen in Kobe Johnson, Jamel King and Seth Wilson. Head coach Bob Huggins made it sound like there’s a possibility of one or all of these guys redshirting their first year. With 5-fifth year seniors and two seniors, it will be huge for these guys to develop into quality collegiate players in the next 18 months.

Now, let’s take a look at what I think the starting lineup will be on Nov. 9.

Malik Curry5th Sr.
Sean McNeilSenior
Taz Sherman5th Sr.
Jalen BridgesSo.
Isaiah CottrellR-Fr.

There’s no way West Virginia plays two big men down low next season; there’s no way. They learned their mistake starting Culver and Tshiebwe together. I see a lot of people have Osabuohien in their starting five but I can’t see it. Gabe will for sure finish games, there’s no doubt about it with his hustle and defense. But I can’t see running two big guys down below.

The frontcourt of Bridges and Cottrell is very young and that’s why Carrigan and Paulicap have been brought on.

It looks like Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil will share the keys to the offense this season with some help from Malik Curry, Jalen Bridges and some damn good defensive players. I think a crucial part to how far this team goes is how big of a jump can Bridges take from his freshman year to his sophomore. In my opinion, sky is the limit. Jalen is a player, he’s going to continue to get better and better every year.

On paper, with a very early date of July 5, I have the Mountaineers looking at still a very exciting season ahead of them.

(Top Photo: Dale Sparks)

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