Morgantown, West Virginia – West Virginia’s loss to Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament was devastating for a variety of reasons but mostly because the careers of three really fine Mountaineers have come to an abrupt end.
Erik Stevenson, Kedrian Johnson and Emmitt Matthews, Jr. will never put on a West Virginia uniform again. All three were outstanding competitors and they will be missed. However, Bob Huggins is now tasked with replacing the departing players and finding a way to improve his team before next season.
I believe next season is Bob Huggins’ last season. It’s the final year of his contract and it’s hard to imagine him signing an extension at 70 years old. With that, he’s going to do everything possible to go out on a bright spot and leave the Mountaineers in a good place for the future before walking away.
Who is Returning
It’s important that Huggins finds a way to keep the following players: Tre Mitchell, Joe Toussaint, Seth Wilson, Mohamed Wague, James Okonkwo and Josiah Harris. That is a solid core to build around.
In addition, it’s important that Jose Perez plays for the Mountaineers next season and finishes his college career in Morgantown. The addition of Omar Silverio, a player that Perez calls his “brother”, should be enough to entice Perez back.
Who Will Start
1 – Joe Toussaint
2 – Jose Perez
3 – Addition from the Transfer Portal
4 – Tre Mitchell
5 – James Okonkwo/Mohamed Wague
Bench: Omar Silverio, Seth Wilson, Josiah Harris, Portal Player, Portal Player, Portal Player, Portal Player, Portal Player, Portal Player.
Who Needs to Leave
It might sound harsh, but certain players on the team just aren’t going to contribute in a meaningful way and in today’s game, it’s important that every player is capable of producing when called on.
Jimmy Bell’s effort was terrific this season. He gave every ounce of himself and should be commended for what he accomplished this season. Having said that, Jimmy Bell is not a starting center for a Division I team and he’s certainly not the starting center for a team that wants to compete for a national championship.
Bob Huggins loves Jimmy Bell. He consistently praises Bell’s ability to “not be moved” and “take up space.” But the reality is that there are a lot of players out there that are “tough to move” and “take up space” who can also contribute offensively.
Other players that are unlikely to contribute in a meaningful way next season and should find a new home:
Patrick Suemnick. Again, like Bell, gave tremendous effort this season. But also like Bell, he’s just not physically gifted enough to play at a high level in Division I basketball.
Jamel King. It’s difficult to say whether he’s talented enough to play for the Mountaineers, but he’s been around for two years and has barely seen the court. West Virginia simply cannot afford to waste a scholarship on a player who isn’t going to play.
Kobe Johnson. Extremely talented player who just hasn’t found his niche yet with the Mountaineers.
Josiah Davis. Appeared to be very capable when given a shot in very limited minutes this season. Could be an interesting energy guard off the bench in the future.