With a more guard heavy offensive approach this season, the West Virginia men’s basketball team will look for players to step up in the paint down underneath as fifth year senior forward Gabe Osabuohien will be part of that solution.
The Toronto, Ontario, native will be teaming up with experienced Division I players in Isaiah Cottrell, Jalen Bridges and Taj Thweatt alongside some newly acquired transfers this past year.
A part of Osabuohien’s game he says he has worked on has been playing smart and not getting into foul trouble.
“I’ve got to find the in between playing hard and then playing smart also because it is two twenty-minute halves, if I get two fouls in the first,” Osabuohien said.
The Mountaineer originally transferred from Arkansas in 2019 where he started in his final eight games of his sophomore year as a Razorback. After playing two more years at West Virginia on top of his Arkansas days, the current fifth year explained why he wanted to stay another year in the gold and blue.
“What was on my head was losing to Syracuse, I didn’t want to go out like that, I was so mad after that game,” Osabuohien said. “Dumb fouls and stuff like that, really just minimized on that, that’s really been a big emphasis with coach Huggins and me making sure I’m available and in the game.”
The forward didn’t enter a game in 2019 until the fourth matchup of the year but went on to start in one game and played in a total of 28 games. The first year in Morgantown for the big man saw him lead the Mountaineers with 148 deflections and produce 23 charges. The forward has always been a threat whenever his name is called in the blue and gold, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“I think my role changes a little bit more where I’m going to have to help the team way more in every aspect, so the role definitely gets bigger but it’s still the same role, where my number one thing is making sure we win and do whatever we do, whatever it takes to win,” Osabuohien said.
Osabuohien was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive team last season while leading West Virginia yet again his junior year in deflections and charges taken. The former Southwest Christian Academy attendee has also been a passing machine whipping 62 assists his senior year of college.
Even with such a strong defensive skillset, the fifth-year senior has explained how he’s tried to get better this offseason on the offensive end of the floor looking for open passes and open shots.
“I’m really working on every aspect of my game, become a better passer, be able to make shots, be a better defender also so just working on everything, not just one specific thing for real,” Osabuohien said.
With Osabuohien’s defensive skills teamed up with Bridges and Cottrell’s offensive skills in the paint, it’s never quite telling before a season what exactly a front court attack variation could look like for opponents in the paint.
The Mountaineers will play an exhibition game against Akron on Friday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m., inside the WVU Coliseum.