The State of the West Virginia Mountaineers Basketball Team

Morgantown, West Virginia – Following West Virginia’s loss to Syracuse in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament, there are several uncertainties facing Bob Huggins’ team going into the 2021-2022 season.

Who will return, who will stay?

I believe Taz Sherman is gone.  And I think Gabe Osabuohien is also very unlikely to return.  When students graduate from college, they are ready to move on with their lives and explore new possibilities.

Sherman can make money immediately overseas and another year at West Virginia University isn’t going to make him an NBA player.  The same goes for Osabuohien.  He’s an outstanding glue man in college, but he’s way undersized for his position and lacks a real offensive game.  As much as I’d love to have both back next year, I just don’t see it.

With Sherman and Osabuohien both potentially gone, Huggins will need to secure commitments from transfers who are ready to step in immediately and contribute.  Huggins has been hesitant to seek out transfer players and that is something that will need to change in today’s culture.

The transfer portal is ripe with outstanding players (see: Fatts Russell from Rhode Island: 14.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists per game last season and Tre Mitchell from UMASS: 18.8 points and 7.2 rebounds) and Huggins needs to pounce on them immediately to replace key players on the team.

Bob Huggins’ future

Huggins will be in his final year of his current contract and next season seems like a perfect “farewell season” for the coaching legend.  West Virginia University has already given him a cushy position in the Athletic Department and he seems uninterested in the ugly, shady side of the sport (ie the Oscar Tshiebwe situation).

Huggins’ aging staff needs new blood and bringing in someone like Joe Mazzulla or Darris Nichols with the understanding that they’ll take over when Huggins retires seems like an absolute no-brainer.  Whether Huggins decides to retire after next season or five years from now, a succession plan needs to be in place, and Mazzulla or Nichols would be the perfect eventual replacement for him.

The Mountaineers are still loaded with talent

Miles McBride, Sean McNeil, Jalen Bridges and Isaiah Cottrell will almost certainly be back next year, and that’s an excellent core to build around.  If Sherman, Osabuohien and even Derek Culver decide to move on, the young core of Mountaineers is still very talented and will be one of the most talented teams in the Big 12 Conference next season.

If Huggins can pull a few transfers to place around the returning players, he will have a team that can make some major noise.

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Brad Smith
Brad Smith, "The Voice of Morgantown", is the most trusted, accomplished name in West Virginia sports journalism. Smith is the foremost, preeminent authority on West Virginia athletics and a lifelong fan of the Mountaineers. Smith, a proud graduate of West Virginia University, resides in Morgantown most of the year, but has a home in Jacksonville, Florida, where he lives during the winter.