Whether Oscar Tshiebwe decides to return to college next season – and there’s a growing feeling that he will not return – the West Virginia Mountaineers are the deepest, most talented team in the Big 12.
The Big 12 Championship always goes through Lawrence, Kansas, but the Jayhawks’ center Udoka Azubuike finally graduated and their engine that made the team run this year, Devon Dotson, has entered his name into the NBA Draft and will almost certainly remain there. Although he has the ability to return to Kansas, KU Head Coach Bill Self said at the time of Dotson’s announcement that “this is the right time to pursue a professional career.”
Both Baylor and Texas Tech are well-coached and have a lot of talent returning, but the depth, size and skill that the Mountaineers return is unquestionably the best in the conference next season, even if Oscar Tshiebwe makes the decision to remain in the NBA Draft. To be clear, Tshiebwe has the strength, motor and size to play professionally now and will get a mid to late 2nd round projection from NBA scouts and experts during his NBA Draft process. Guaranteed money for an opportunity to make your dreams come true is hard if not impossible to turn down.
Tshiebwe is happy in Morgantown and sincere in his desire to want to return to play for the Mountaineers, but Huggins will be honest with him and tell him that although he’d love to have him back, ultimately Tshiebwe is ready to compete in the NBA.
With Tshiebwe likely gone, Derek Culver will be…well, Derek Culver again. Culver and Tshiebwe never meshed well playing together at the same time and Tshiebwe’s departure will be the very best thing for Culver’s game.
Derek Culver playing next to ultimate role player/garbage man Gabe Osabuohien or incoming freshman sensation Isaiah Cottrell is a much, much better fit for him. Expect Culver to averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Mountaineers’ go-to player next season.
Although Miles McBride was good last season, imagine what he will be capable of next season as he takes over as the unquestioned floor leader for the Mountaineers. He will no longer play his role off the bench, he will be the man as a sophomore. McBride is simply too good to not be on the court at the start and end of games. Pair McBride next to a pure scorer like Taz Sherman, Sean McNeil or incoming JUCO transfer Kedrian Johnson will make West Virginia’s backcourt scary good.
Bob Huggins said a year ago that he’d fix the issues on his team and he’s certainly done that. He couldn’t be happier with his group of players and this is a capable of not only winning the Big 12 Championship, they can compete for the NCAA National Championship.