Morgantown, West Virginia – While Derek Culver is in Los Angeles, California, Bob Huggins and staff have been busy searching for replacements for Culver in the West Virginia lineup.
Culver, a first team Big 12 Conference player who averaged 14.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game for the Mountaineers last season, leaves a huge void in the West Virginia interior with his eventual departure.
With that said, Culver’s defensive effort was atrocious at times and there are several talented players that Huggins has already reached out to that would improve the team in a variety of ways.
A 6’11 250 pound center, Soriano recently entered the transfer portal from Fordham and has already heard from Pitt, Oklahoma, St. John’s and West Virginia, among several other schools.
Soriano averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last season, and he would be an immediate upgrade to Derek Culver defensively.
Soriano has three years of eligibility remaining and has a huge upside.
A graduate transfer from DePaul, Paulicap averaged 7.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season. At 6’8 and 225 pounds, Paulicap is a bit undersized to replace Culver at center, but he’s an exceptional defender and was once named Defensive Player of the Year in the MAAC.
Paulicap spoke with 247 Sports and said the following about West Virginia: “They are a great program with a great coach. It would be a good situation for me as well. They talked about how they need a guy who can come in, block some shots, and help them get back to pressing, and back to being that gritty defensive-minded team.”
A former 4 star recruit out of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Wilson is an incredible athlete who can jump out of the gym.
Wilson decommitted from Alabama today and was previously recruited by Bob Huggins. Wilson is rated the #1 junior college power forward and the #2 junior college prospect in the nation.
Brakefield, a 6’9 220 pound forward, is a former five star recruit who played for the Duke Blue Devils as a freshman last season, and graduated from Huntington Prep High School in Huntington, WV, where he was teammates with current Mountaineers Isaiah Cottrell and Seny Ndiaye.
West Virginia offered Brakefield in 2019 and he took three unofficial visits to Morgantown while in high school. In fact, Brakefield was in attendance for a West Virginia game two years ago with then-teammate Isaiah Cottrell, who he calls his “brother.”
Brakefield averaged 19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game as a senior at Huntington Prep and was named the West Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore, junior and senior. In his freshman season at Duke, Brakefield averaged 3.5 points and 2.5 rebounds for the Blue Devils.
Brakefield has been silent about his future since announcing that he’s entered the transfer portal, but Ole Miss has emerged as an early leader for him. Having said that, it’s unclear if he’s even spoken to any teams yet or has even started to consider where he’ll go next.
With that said, he has ties to the state of West Virginia, has two former high school teammates (Cottrell, Ndiaye) who he has remained close to on the current roster, is familiar with the outstanding facilities at WVU and would be immediate featured player for the Mountaineers.
With a lack of depth and size heading into next season, Jaemyn Brakefield is the absolute perfect prospect for the Mountaineers.
The fact that Huggins is actively recruiting the following players is very revealing. He knows Culver is gone and must find a replacement quickly. If Huggins can land Soriano, Paulicap, Wilson or Brakefield, the inevitable loss of Culver will be less devastating for the Mountaineers. Soriano and Paulicap have both expressed major interest and Wilson and Brakefield are long shots, but one of them coming to Morgantown to replace Culver seems very likely at this point.