Morgantown, West Virginia – Now that Derek Culver has officially announced that he has left West Virginia University – something we’ve said for over two weeks now – next year’s lineup will actually be better for a variety of reasons. Here’s the current projected rotation for the Mountaineers in the 2021-2022 season:
PG Malik Curry – Although Miles “Deuce” McBride hasn’t made his decision yet, he’s almost certainly remaining in the 2021 NBA Draft. Latest projections show him as a late first round/early second round pick, and returning for another year isn’t going to improve his stock.
With that said, Malik Curry, a transfer point guard from Old Dominion, will be an outstanding replacement for McBride. Curry, a 5th year senior, averaged 15.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 46% from the field last season. He’s a veteran and he’s a proven leader.
SG Sean McNeil – McNeil, who is currently testing the NBA waters, will find that he’s not going to be drafted and will return to Morgantown for at least one more season. McNeil averaged 12.2 points and shot 38.8% from three point range last season. Look for him to average 15.0+ points per game while shooting greater than 40% from three point range next season.
SF Jalen Bridges – As a freshman last season, Bridges was one of the most pleasant surprises for the Mountaineers, averaging 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Those stats are incredible, but he showed flashes of real brilliance and should take a step forward in 2021-2022.
PF Pauly Paulicap – West Virginia’s major area of concern last season was interior defense and Pauly Paulicap – a former defensive player of the year – will instantly fix that issue. Paulicap, a sculpted 6’8 225 pounds, has the size and body to be a real defensive force in the Big 12 Conference.
C Isaiah Cottrell – Before Cottrell’s devastating injury last season, Bob Huggins called him the team’s “most skilled big man.” Cottrell is a tremendous rebounder who can also step out and score from the perimeter. If he’s healthy, he will be a featured offensive player for the Mountaineers.
F Gabe Osabuohien – If Cottrell isn’t ready, Huggins will likely start Osabuohien and Paulicap in the front court. If Cottrell is healthy, Osabuohien will be the first man off the bench in the upcoming season.
G Taz Sherman – Right now, Sherman’s return is 50/50. While he will not be considered in the 2021 NBA Draft, an opportunity to play overseas may present itself. If it does, don’t expect him back next year. He’s made it clear that he’s ready to make money playing basketball.
F Taj Thweatt – Thweatt showed that he’s extremely gifted athletically last season but needed more time to be productive for the Mountaineers. This season, he should be ready to be a key player off the bench.
G Kedrian Johnson – Johnson gave the Mountaineers several productive minutes last year as an energy guy off the bench. If McBride doesn’t return, he will play behind Malik Curry as the team’s backup point guard.
F Dimon Carrigan – Another big, athletic player Huggins landed in the transfer portal, Carrigan could challenge Paulicap for a starting role.
G Seth Wilson – Freshman guard could see minutes, particularly if McBride doesn’t return. Wilson was rated as one of the top high school players in Ohio last season.
G Kobe Johnson – Another Ohio guard who could see minutes in the Mountaineers’ back court. Johnson is a long, athletic, gifted scorer.
G Spencer Macke – Will see garbage minutes in blowout wins at the Coliseum.
C Seny Ndiaye – With West Virginia landing both Dimon Carrigan and Pauly Paulicap, Ndiaye will likely redshirt and spend time in the weight room in the offseason. If Isaiah Cottrell isn’t healthy and ready to play, Ndiaye may be forced to play next season.