Morgantown, West Virginia – Let me preface this by saying that Bob Huggins is one of the best program-builders in the history of college basketball. He was successful at Cincinnati, built something pretty special in one season at Kansas State, and has worked real miracles at West Virginia University.
Having said that, the Mountaineers are an absolute mess right now and Bob Huggins is 68 years old. West Virginia was going to have a rebuilding year even if all of their possible talent returned. With Jalen Bridges and Isaiah Cottrell – the two cornerstone players of the future of the team – leaving, the situation in Morgantown has gone from bad to worse.
Huggins will now return Kedrian Johnson, Kobe Johnson, Jamel King, Seth Wilson and James Okonkwo. Kedrian Johnson is a nice returning senior with real experience, and Kobe Johnson, King, Wilson and Okonkwo are fine young returning pieces.
But this is not a core to build a team around.
The Mountaineers will add Josiah Harris and Josiah Davis, two under-the-radar guards, and Pat Suemnick, a 6’8 forward who has had success at the JUCO ranks.
But again, these are not immediate difference-makers that will turn the Mountaineers into contenders in the Big 12 Conference.
Huggins, who has expressed multiple times that he does not particularly like finding players through the transfer portal, will have to find a way to make the portal work for him.
But at 68 years old, is Huggins really able to change who he is? It’s very reasonable to be skeptical of this happening. Huggins is a proud, tough, stubborn coach who understandably – based on his incredible success – thinks his way of doing things is the right way.
Perhaps he will be able to make another run with junior college players and under-the-radar recruits, but in today’s world, that is going to be harder and harder for Bob Huggins to do.
Rebuilding the mess that the Mountaineers are currently in will take patience and time. Does Bob Huggins have either of those left?