MORGANTOWN W.Va – West Virginia basketball will sit in a unique position during the 2019-2020 season, where they can potentially have the luxury of two dominant bigs working the glass for rebounds at the same time.
In the past, the Mountaineers have held a solid list of bigs that dominated the Big 12 and Big East, such as Kevin Pittsnogle, Sagaba Konate, and D’or Fisher, but have never had the opportunity to play two of this caliber at the same time.
Derek Culver, who narrowly missed averaging a double-double last season, was arguably a few missed games away from being in the discussion for the Big 12 Player of the Year. Culver averaged 11.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. His game continued to develop throughout the season, and has seemingly set himself up for a huge 2019 campaign.
Enter Oscar Tshiebwe, the highly coveted five star recruit for Bob Huggins that is arguably the most anticipated player to ever step foot in Morgantown. The McDonald’s All-American flew up the ESPN Top 100 for his rebounding ability and high-energy play that is perfect for a gritty Bob Huggins squad.
Derek Culver has continued his development all summer, and has attributed some of his progression to his new teammate pushing him every day in practice.
“There’s always a competitive factor when me and (Oscar) are on the court against each other. With me and him playing against each other (in practice), it’s going to be like iron sharpening iron,” said Culver.
While the two will be a physical presence in the post and have an opportunity to put up points, it will also open up the floor for some of the other guards on the team giving them more opportunities to score, according to sophomore forward Emmitt Matthews Jr.
“Playing with those guys is going to free up a lot of stuff on the outside. Oscar has a mid-range game that most people know about, so it will raise the floor out more for us and we can have more fun on the outside. Playing with them is going to free us up a lot and we’re just going to have fun with it,” said Matthews.
Culver and Tshiebwe have had the summer to work together, and will get the opportunity to get more acquainted with each other in game action during West Virginia’s upcoming trip to Spain where they will face off against some of the best talent in Europe. If Huggins can gain enough confidence in Tshiebwe early in the season, the two have a chance to be a top duo in the country this season.