Morgantown, West Virginia – West Virginia fans may have forgotten but…
Jordan McCabe is a virtuoso, a flashy on-court maestro with the basketball, who needs freedom to make mistakes to perform to the best of his abilities.
Bob Huggins is an old-school, gritty, tough coach that doesn’t like or appreciate flashiness or dazzling playmakers. He’d rather a player make the easy, sure pass than the no-look or behind the back one.
This is where the conflict between Jordan McCabe and Bob Huggins starts. McCabe needs freedom and Bob Huggins does not want his players to have freedom to make mistakes on the court.
With this said, Huggins knew what he was getting with McCabe when he recruited him out of high school. McCabe traveled with the Harlem Globetrotters and performed halftime dribbling exhibitions. High school footage of McCabe shows that he liked to dribble…a lot and he liked to make fancy passes.
McCabe has done what he can to adjust to Huggins’ style. He is the first player in the gym and the last to leave. He has calmed down on the showmanship on the court and ran Huggins’ offense. However, McCabe’s lack of size, athleticism and speed makes him ineffective if he can’t use his natural ability to dribble and make difficult passes.
Again, this is where the problem lies. Either Bob Huggins needs to let Jordan McCabe be Jordan McCabe, or Jordan McCabe is not going to be a productive college basketball player.
Through four games this season, McCabe, a junior, is averaging 1.0 points, 1.8 assists and 0.8 rebounds in only 9.5 minutes a game. He’s played only 12 total minutes in the past two games and is 0-5 from the field for the season.
This is not how it was supposed to go for Jordan McCabe. He was the leader and the future of the team at one point, but now he’s that guy that gets in for a few minutes, takes a couple of bad shots or makes a few bad passes before Bob Huggins angrily benches him.
At the end of McCabe’s freshman season, a severely-depleted WVU team went 2-2 to close out the season and 2-1 in the Big 12 Tournament, beating Iowa State, Oklahoma and eventual National Championship-bound Texas Tech along the way. McCabe averaged 13.5 points, 5 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 35% from three point range during the last 10 games. This is what McCabe is capable of when given the freedom to be himself.
McCabe needs to have a very open and honest conversation and say, “Coach, what does my future here in Morgantown look like? What do the final two years of my basketball life look like to you? Am I going to play behind Miles (McBride) and Kedrian (Johnson) or am I going to be the leader of this team? Will you allow me to be who I have always been on the court, or am I going to have to be a neutered version of myself to make you happy?”
Jordan McCabe has worked really, really hard his entire life to become an outstanding basketball player. With no prospects of playing professionally after graduation, he has this year, next year (and perhaps one more season since this one doesn’t count towards eligibility) left to play competitively. Does he want to spend those final two or three years perpetually in Bob Huggins’ dog house or does he want to go elsewhere to have some freedom to be the leader on the court that he knows he can be?
I know what I would choose.