MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia University’s Nathan Adrian is one player turning heads as the Mountaineers prepare for the upcoming season.
Adrian had a breakout freshman campaign where he averaged 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. It was his three-point shooting that turned heads.
Adrian finished the season with 39 3-point field goals, tying him for sixth in school history among Mountaineer freshman.
But his sophomore season was plagued by a wrist injury.
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward bounced back last season but he is ready to make his mark on his final season at WVU.
“I think he’s playing pretty well in the post,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “I think he’s making shots. He’s really shooting the ball well. He’s way more confident and making shots, which helps all of us.”.
Over the offseason, Adrian has turned it up in the gym and on his game.
“Just been working hard and trying to get in the gym more,” he said. Working on my shot and it’s been working for me.”
With the loss of three leaders from last season’s team, the Mountaineers need the Morgantown native to step up in the leadership department. Adrian is prepared to do just that.
“I definitely feel I need to be a leader because I’m a senior,” he said. “I know what it is and what it means to people around here. So I’ll take that responsibility.”
Being a team leader is more than verbally getting behind everyone, it is showing how to conquer the task at hand and Adrian is doing just that.
“You lead by example,” Huggins said. “It’s one thing to sit and talk and try and tell people what to do. It’s another thing to go out there and do it and lead by example. JC has been great and Nate’s been great. Those two guys probably stand out more than anybody else does. It’s a long season so consistency become imperative when you’re playing that long and when you’re playing in a league as hard as the Big 12 has been.”
Helping the newcomers is something that is important to the senior.
“All of our seniors as a whole have really done a good job leading our younger guys,” Adrian said. “If they need help with something, we help them. Coach takes care of most things but if they need something we step in.”
While Adrian brings a lot to the court, WVU lost a key contributor in Jonathan Holton.
Holton averaged 8.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, but the big man excelled defensively and was an aggressive component of the Mountaineers’ smoldering press.
Despite questions about whether Adrian can fill the void left by Holton, Huggins is confident in the former Morgantown High School alum.
“We didn’t lose anything when we put Nate in,” Huggins said. “Nate’s just not got to make the dumb fouls because we need him in the game more. He’s got a good understanding of what’s supposed to happen. He does a good job with angles. Jon (Holton) was just pretty much length. Nate’s lateral quickness is as good or better than Jon’s. It’s just he doesn’t have the length that Jon had. But he makes up for it in other ways. He understands angles really well.”
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS