The West Virginia Mountaineers will look very different next year than they look this season, and some of the players who will leave the team might come as a bit of a surprise. The returning players for next season have been ranked from most likely to leave the Mountaineers prematurely to the least likely:
Oscar Tshiebwe – While he is not fully NBA-ready, his body is very mature and he has a knack for rebounding like no one else in college basketball. The idea of Tshiebwe being a one-and-done player seemed unlikely prior to this season, but he has exceeded expectations and has shown that he can compete physically with anyone and has limitless potential for the future.
Brandon Knapper – Although he has shown flashes of brilliance this season, he is buried behind Jordan McCabe and Miles McBride in the point guard rotation. When he does get to play, he seems rushed and pressured to produce quickly before being pulled. Knapper going to a school where the competition is less intense would make a lot of sense for the talented guard from South Charleston, West Virginia.
Sean McNeil or Taz Sherman – Both McNeil and Sherman were highly-regarded junior college players and could have gone virtually anywhere in the offseason. Neither can be very happy with how this season has gone individually. One of the players will get far more playing time next season with Jermaine Haley graduating, but both likely feel that they should start and the one who doesn’t win the starting job could be gone.
Derek Culver – Make no mistake about it, Derek Culver is frustrated in West Virginia’s offense and his body language reeks of unhappiness while on the court right now. Although both are extremely talented, Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe don’t play well next to each other. If Tshiebwe moves on to the NBA next season, Culver is far more likely to return. If Tshiebwe returns, there’s an outside chance that Culver considers going elsewhere.
Emmitt Matthews, Jr. and Jordan McCabe – This season has been an extremely frustrating, disappointing season for each of these players personally, but neither seem like the type of individuals who would ever quit on a team or give up when things get tough. Matthews and McCabe are leaders of this team and will almost certainly finish their careers as Mountaineers.
Gabe Osabuohien and Miles McBride – Osabuohien and McBride fit into Bob Huggins’ system perfectly and will be two key players for West Virginia’s future. Osabuohien will get more time with Tshiebwe potentially moving on and McBride should be the Mountaineers’ starting point guard for the next three seasons.
Players Graduating: Chase Harler, Logan Routt and Jermaine Haley
Key Additions: Jalen Bridges, Isaiah Cottrell, Kedrian Johnson and Taj Thweatt