We’re several months away until the West Virginia Mountaineers take the court at the Coliseum again, but there’s already an electricity and buzz surrounding Bob Huggins’ 2020-2021 team.
BUZZZZZZZZZZZZ…can you hear it? The noise is palpable, intense, and West Virginia will be among the favorite teams in the nation to cut down the nets at the Final Four in Indianapolis next season.
I fully expect Bob Huggins’ team to win the National Championship on April 5, 2021 and really, truly anything less than that would be a disappointment. Although West Virginians typically hype up the Mountaineers every season, next season is different. There’s simply too much depth, talent, size and athleticism for West Virginia to beat anyone next year.
This team is three-deep at virtually every position. At point guard, the remarkable sophomore Miles McBride will be the likely starter with veteran guard Jordan McCabe as his backup. JUCO sensation Kedrian Johnson can play either the one or the two guard position.
Johnson will compete for the starting position as the two guard with deadly scorer Taz Sherman and sharpshooter Sean McNeil off the bench. This level of scoring ability is unmatched in college basketball next season.
At the small forward position, Emmitt Matthews, Jr. will be challenged for playing time by newcomers Jalen Bridges and Taj Thweatt. Bridges, according to Huggins, was one of the top players on the team in practice last season and will see considerable time. Thweatt is a bit raw but unbelievably athletic.
Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver will be interchangeable at the power forward and center positions, and Gabe Osabuohien is a perfect energy guy off the bench, a junkyard dog type that does all the right things at all the right times. Isaiah Cottrell is the future of the West Virginia interior and has the maturity, size and ability to contribute immediately next season. This is unquestionably the best front court in the Big 12 and perhaps the entire country.
I really hate to put this kind of pressure on these young men, but honestly anything less than a National Championship would be a letdown. With Bob Huggins entering the twilight of his career and Oscar Tshiebwe, a once-in-a-lifetime player for the Mountaineers, playing in his final collegiate season before inevitably going to the NBA, the time appears to be now or never.