Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Huggins Pursues Big-Time Talent

Morgantown, West Virginia - The West Virginia Mountaineers coaching staff has shown heavy interest in Tyler Nickel for years and today, they officially offered the talented forward from Elkton, Virginia. Nickel, a 6'8 forward, is a four star player according to 247 Composite and is currently the #2 ranked player in the state of Virginia and the 69th ranked prospect in the entire country in the 2022 class. Nickel finished last season with 1,464 points in his high school career, which is the most in Virginia history through a sophomore season. When asked to describe his game, Nickel said, "I’m primarily a two or a three. I create my own shot and make plays off the bounce. I can score from anywhere on the floor and go coast-to-coast off a rebound often. I also guard multiple positions comfortably." Nickel's recruitment is heating up with a list list of scholarship offers.  "My recruitment is still very much open and I’m just looking for the best fit for me", Nickel said. "I’ll start cutting my list at the end of this upcoming spring and then make a decision next fall.  My offers include Richmond, Virginia Tech, LSU, Clemson, Wake Forest, NC State, Iowa, Indiana and West Virginia.” With several players potentially leaving West Virginia after next season - including Malik Curry, Taz Sherman, Pauly Paulicap, Gabe Osabuohien, as well as Sean McNeil and Miles "Deuce" McBride if they return for the upcoming season - the Mountaineers will have several scholarships available and a young scorer like Tyler Nickel is the type of player that Bob Huggins and staff could rebuild a team around. https://twitter.com/abg_tnick5/status/1388661647154294785?s=20 Check out his incredible highlights below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jGOgKDFAZc

BREAKING: Miles “Deuce” McBride Receives 2021 NBA Draft Combine Invite

Morgantown, West Virginia - Miles “Deuce” McBride has officially been invited to the 2021 NBA Draft Combine! According to Jon Chepkevich, McBride received his invite today to the Draft Combine, which takes place June 21-27th in Chicago. Chepkevich referred to McBride as a “tough, hard-nosed combo guard with an elite pull-up jumper that consistently makes winning plays on both ends.” McBride, who averaged 15.8 points, 4.9 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game last season for the Mountaineers, is considered a late first round or early second round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.  

WVU’s New Starting Point Guard Arrives in Morgantown

Morgantown, West Virginia - With Miles McBride revealing that he will remain in the 2021 NBA Draft and not return for his junior year at West Virginia, Malik Curry, a transfer guard from Old Dominion, will now have huge expectations as the Mountaineers' next starting point guard. Malik Curry, a 6’1 graduate transfer, will have one year to eligibility remaining, and it's going to be a very important one for the Mountaineers.  While the team is loaded with talent, point guard is an area of concern with little depth.  Curry will be counted on to shoulder a huge load at the position. Curry averaged 15.7 points, 3.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game last season and was a second team Conference USA Selection. Welcome Home, Malik!  Can't wait to see you in the old gold and blue! Via Malik Curry's Instagram

Deuce McBride Selected in the 2021 NBA Draft

Morgantown, West Virginia - Miles "Deuce" McBride's lifelong dream of being an NBA player just came true!  McBride has been selected #36 overall in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder and then traded to the New York Knicks! McBride averaged 9.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as a freshman and 15.9 points, 4.8 assist and 3.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore.  Last season, McBride earned second team All Big 12 honors for the Mountaineers. West Virginia's coaching staff - head coach Bob Huggins and assistants Erik Martin and Ron Everhart - were in attendance at McBride's former high school, Moeller High in Cincinnati, Ohio for his draft watch party. Bob Huggins said the following to McBride in a social media post earlier tonight: "So proud of you, Deuce.  Happy we could be here celebrating today with you." https://twitter.com/CoachHuggs/status/1420886951545262082?s=20 Congratulations to Deuce McBride!  The whole state of West Virginia is so grateful for everything you've done for the Mountaineers and proud of all the great things you are going to accomplish during your professional career!

First Look at the New Look West Virginia Mountaineers TONIGHT

Morgantown, West Virginia - In typical Bob Huggins fashion, West Virginia's legendary head coach was very blunt about how he feels about his Mountaineers this season. "Right now, this group is not even close to being as good as the group was last year,” Huggins said in his most recent press conference.  “We have a lot of work to do. That’s not to say we can’t do it, but we do have a lot of work to do.” West Virginia lost both Miles "Deuce" McBride and Derek Culver from last year's team, and Huggins knows that they are both difficult players to replace.  Although McBride was a tough loss for the Mountaineers, Huggins believes that losing Culver's interior defense and rebounding will be the team's most challenging parts to replace. West Virginia added veteran interior players Dimon Carrigan and Pauly Paulicap, both accomplished defensive players at their previous stops, but Huggins said that playing in the Big 12 Conference is an entirely new challenge for the newcomers. "I can tell you what you find out is that it’s a lot easier to block shots at lower levels than it is here, honestly,” Huggins said. “They block shots every once in a while, but they’re not Sagaba Konate, they’re not Derek Culver, they’re not some of the other guys we’ve had. The physicality is what gets them and they’re not used to that. This is a really physical league, and they have to get used to that." Asked about the team's defense, Huggins thought for a bit and then finally said, "We're not very good.  There is a difference between guarding and guarding the way we guard.  We haven’t figured out the way we guard yet." The Mountaineers will need to figure it out quickly, as the season is right around the corner.  West Virginia plays Akron in a televised exhibition against Akron tonight and will then open the regular season at home against Oakland on November 9th.  Three days after the opener, the Mountaineers will welcome the Pitt Panthers for the basketball edition of the Backyard Brawl. Although Huggins is understandably concerned with his team's defense, West Virginia returns an incredible amount of talent, featuring seniors Taz Sherman, Sean McNeil, Gabe Osabuohien, as well as talented sophomore Jalen Bridges, and this is a roster capable of competing for the Big 12 Championship and more. Tune in tonight at 7:00 on ESPN+ to get your first look at the 2021-2022 West Virginia Mountaineers when they host Akron in a charity exhibition at the WVU Coliseum.

WATCH: Miles McBride’s Dunk of the Year

Morgantown, West Virginia - Former West Virginia Mountaineers star guard Miles "Deuce" McBride has been bouncing back and forth between playing for the New York Knicks in the NBA and the Knicks' G League team, the Westchester Knicks. Tonight, McBride is playing in the G League and he's once again been sensational.  Deuce finished tonight's game with 28 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in a loss to the Celtics' G League tea. McBride also had one of the most impressive dunks you'll see this year.  Check it out below: https://twitter.com/wcknicks/status/1465487203514077190?s=20 https://twitter.com/wcknicks/status/1465500190740295686?s=20    

West Virginia Once Again Robbed of Top 25 Recognition

Morgantown, West Virginia - The West Virginia Mountaineers (11-1) have once again been left out of the Top 25. The Mountaineers, who have won eight consecutive games, actually dropped a spot in the "others receiving votes" category to #28, despite winning a tough game at UAB. https://twitter.com/AP_Top25/status/1475514535536640000?s=20 West Virginia will be back in action on Saturday, January 1st at noon in Austin, Texas against the 17th ranked Texas Longhorns (9-2).

The Game Has Changed But Bob Huggins Never Will

Morgantown, West Virginia - Make no mistake about it, next year's basketball season has potential to be an absolute disaster.  Losing Taz Sherman, Sean McNeil, Gabe Osabuohien, Pauly Paulicap, Dimon Carrigan, Kedrian Johnson and Malik Curry will make rebuilding the team a massive undertaking for Bob Huggins. If he returns for another year. It's hard to imagine Bob Huggins, at 68 years old and with nothing left to prove, getting excited about a roster featuring Jalen Bridges, Isaiah Cottrell, Seth Wilson, James Okonkwo, Jamel King and Seny Ndiaye. To make matters even worse, Bob Huggins doesn't like the idea of using the transfer portal to improve his team. Although Huggins has had some success in the portal, he is old school and prefers recruiting high school players. "Honestly, we probably didn’t do a good job in the portal,” Huggins said earlier today. "I don’t think the transfer portal is good for your fans. I don’t think years from now our fans are going to be talking about a guy who played here for a year. I kind of favor having the guys here for multiple years." The game of college basketball has made incredible changes over the past decade, but Bob Huggins is still Bob Huggins, and he always will be Bob Huggins. This, of course, is ultimately detrimental for the future of the West Virginia basketball program. Flexibility and the ability to adapt are keys to coaching college athletics, and despite his greatness, Bob Huggins does not possess the capacity to grow with the changing landscape of today's game. Although Huggins is one of the most accomplished and skilled head coaches in the history of college basketball, it seems incredibly unlikely that he will be able to change and rebuild his program in today's climate. Winning a national championship is the only thing Bob Huggins has left to do in his remarkable career. Unfortunately, the chances of it happening are extremely improbable. https://twitter.com/voicemorgantown/status/1486147560024809473?s=21

Bob Huggins Furious With His Team Following Loss

Cover Photo by Gus Schlomer, VOM  Morgantown, West Virginia - Following West Virginia's crushing loss at Oklahoma State - a game that likely ended their realistic hopes of making the NCAA Tournament - Bob Huggins was devastated by the performance of his team. "We're running out of chances," Huggins said.  "We have some opportunities remaining, but not many." Huggins went on to say that this is not how he wants to end his long and illustrious career as a head coach. "I told the guys, 'I'm not going out like this.'" Huggins went on to tell his players that's okay with losing several of them if they aren't going to contribute or work to get better. "I'm good with playing with seven players. If the rest of you want to go, I can do it with seven," Huggins told his players in the locker room following the game. The road to the NCAA Tournament seems increasingly challenging for the Mountaineers and unfortunately, the team loses most of its scoring and rebounding production following this season. With losses of leading scorers Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil (who said in the offseason he'd come back for "one more year"), as well as seniors Gabe Osabuohien, Pauly Paulicap, Dimon Carrigan, Malik Curry and perhaps Kedrian Johnson, Huggins will have Jalen Bridges, Isaiah Cottrell, James Okonkwo, Jamel King and Seth Wilson returning. In addition, Huggins has been on record that he doesn't want to build his roster through the transfer portal, which makes the task of replacing all of the losses he'll face next to impossible. With that said, if this season has been challenging and frustrating for Huggins, it's hard to imagine how he will deal with a decimated roster next year. Huggins clearly doesn't want to go out like this, but like his team, he's starting to run out of options.

Predicting a West Virginia Upset Over Kansas

Morgantown, West Virginia - After beating Kansas State, West Virginia will now advance to play the top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks in the second round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament. It's March. The Mountaineers have nothing to lose. No one expects them to win. This is an absolutely perfect opportunity for a massive, season-changing upset. West Virginia (16-16) is currently a 10 point underdog against Kansas (25-6) due to the Mountaineers not coming close to Kansas in their two meetings this season and West Virginia's overall subpar play throughout the season. However, the Big 12 Tournament is a chance to start with a fresh slate and yesterday's win certainly boosted the Mountaineers' confidence. Kansas has a +22 rebounding advantage in the two games against West Virginia this season and that can't happen again if the Mountaineers are going to be competitive today. In addition, West Virginia shot 53% from the field in the opening round against Kansas State and they'll need another similar shooting performance to beat the Jayhawks. Although the Mountaineers are playing on less than 24 hours rest and have played poorly against Kansas this season, this is a game that West Virginia must win in order to earn an NIT berth. In addition, if they win today, their path to potentially playing in the NCAA Tournament becomes dramatically easier. Despite West Virginia's poor performance throughout the season, this feels like a game they need to win and David McCormack, the Jayhawks' All Big 12 second team selection, may or may not play due to injury. If McCormack doesn't play, that will go a long way in evening out the rebounding difference between the two teams and give West Virginia a real chance to pull a massive upset. WVU 62 Kansas  57 The game starts at 3:00PM and will be televised live on ESPN.   PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS Kansas: G Christian Braun, G Dajuan Harris Jr., F Jalen Wilson, G Ochai Agbaji, F David McCormack. West Virginia: G, G Sean McNeil, G Kedrian Johnson, F Jalen Bridges, F Gabe Osabuohein.

Top Transfer Visiting West Virginia

Morgantown, West Virginia - One of the top transfers in the nation is in Morgantown, visiting Bob Huggins and his coaching staff tonight. Erik Stevenson, a 6'4 senior guard from Lacey, Washington, decided to leave South Carolina and enter the transfer portal after head coach Frank Martin was fired by the university. Stevenson, who averaged 11.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game last season for the Gamecocks, transferred to South Carolina last season after playing at Wichita State and Washington. In his one season at South Carolina, Stevenson was the team's leader and shot an incredible 61-62 from the free throw line, which is an incredible 98.4%. Stevenson is also a consistent three point shooter and tough, gritty defensive player, and he would fit right in as a senior leader for the Mountaineers. Stevenson has heard from several schools - including most recently from BYU and Georgia - but he is visiting Morgantown first and appears to be very excited about it. On his social media account earlier today, Stevenson said the following: "Morgantown tonight, can't wait to see Coach Huggs and the staff!" West Virginia will be very active in the transfer portal this offseason, but Erik Stevenson has become a real priority for Bob Huggins and his staff. Don't be surprised if Stevenson makes his commitment to the Mountaineers before leaving town this weekend! https://twitter.com/ej_stevenson5/status/1507446859194933249?s=20&t=zVKq_-0XL0aJJ8aBjs4SfA

Akok Akok to Visit West Virginia

Morgantown, West Virginia - Former four star recruit Akok Akok recently entered the transfer portal and has quickly become one of the hottest players available in college basketball. Akok, a 6'10 210 pound junior who has played for Connecticut for the past three seasons, averaged 5.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game as a freshman for the Huskies before tearing his Achilles' tendon. Last season, he averaged 3.4 points and 3.2 rebounds. Out of high school, Akok was rated by 247 Sports as the 94th overall player in the country. He has already planned to visit Pitt and Georgetown, and will now visit West Virginia. He is an extremely talented defender and if healthy, would be a big addition for the Mountaineers. https://twitter.com/JonRothstein/status/1515863326546440195?s=20&t=fFPv8sbW7Shy3JCiokg8wQ

West Virginia Players Say This Team is Very Special

Morgantown, West Virginia - Following the 2021-2022 season, a season where the West Virginia Mountaineers finished 16-17 overall and dead last at 4-14 in the Big 12 Conference, Bob Huggins has been on a mission to "fix it." Although Huggins missed out on former Texas guard Courtney Ramey, who chose to finish his career with the Arizona Wildcats, the Mountaineers have managed to put together one of the very best group of transfers in the entire nation. Landing five star transfer guards Erik Stevenson and Joe Toussaint was only the beginning for Huggins' roster transformation. Stevenson and Toussaint give the Mountaineers experience and toughness to go with Kedrian Johnson in the backcourt, but the real focus was improving the interior play. Tre Mitchell, a proven Big 12 talent, is perhaps the most important player on West Virginia's roster. He's shown that he's capable of averaging a double-double and gives the team a true post player who is also able to step out and make perimeter shots consistently. Joining Mitchell in the front court is Emmitt Matthews, Jr., who has grown tremendously in his year away from the team. Matthews averaged 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game at Washington last season and is perhaps one of the most athletic players to play for West Virginia in a long time. In addition to the players already mentioned, newcomers Pat Suemnick, Mohamed Wague and Jimmy Bell have all reportedly been very impressive in early team practices. Although it's very early, the Mountaineers already appear to be more cohesive than last season and have the pieces in place to really surprise people in the Big 12 Conference. According to Erik Stevenson, who will be playing in his 5th season with three teams, he thinks this team can be "very special." In response to Emmitt Matthews saying that "loves this team", Stevenson said, "Been trying to say this! Special group." https://twitter.com/ej_stevenson5/status/1536484464745906177?s=20&t=vuP-CC_CfRVh8Bm1qMDeew

Bob Huggins Gives Coaching Advice to Joe Mazzulla

Morgantown, West Virginia - Former West Virginia Mountaineers point guard Joe Mazzulla has served as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics since 2019. Now, Mazzulla will take over as the interim head coach for current head coach Ime Udoka, who is facing disciplinary action for a violation of the organization’s guidelines. Mazzulla, 34, told Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog that he immediately called his former college head coach to share the news that he would be the interim head coach of the Celtics for the upcoming season. Huggins advice? "Don't screw it up." "Well, he woke me up in the morning," Huggins recalled. "The first thing he did was call me early, somewhere between 6-7. Obviously, he's really excited about the opportunity.  What are you going to say? Just don't screw it up! He knew I was going to say it, so we both laughed." Mazzulla, 33, played for both John Beilein and Bob Huggins at West Virginia, advancing to the NCAA Tournament all four years. He was also named to the Big East Academic All-Star Team three times during his career. Mazzulla has also been considered a potential replacement for Bob Huggins at WVU when he decides to retire, but he has said that he would prefer to remain coaching in the NBA.

West Virginia Sinks Navy

Cover Photo: WVU Athletics Morgantown, West Virginia - The West Virginia Mountaineers moved to 7-2 and 4-0 at home, beating the Navy Midshipmen, 85-64. West Virginia was led by senior forward Tre Mitchell, who had his best game for the Mountaineers, finishing with 19 points (8-12 FG, 3-4 3PT), 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Senior guard Erik Stevenson shot the ball extremely well, particularly in the 1st half, and had 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Starting point guard Kedrian Johnson had 11 points and  7 assists, and Joe Toussaint added 9 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists off the bench. https://twitter.com/WVUhoops/status/1600646049059807232?s=20&t=fBrjo9D69FNawS1UruNuRw The Mountaineers are back in action on Saturday, December 10 at home against the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers at 6:00PM. The game will be televised live on ESPN+.