Huggins, WVU Will Move Forward
As the losses piled during what was the longest season of his likely Hall of Fame career, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins continually vowed they were going to ”fix it.”
Naturally everyone assumed that meant massive changes to the roster, even as other things, such as tons of travel caused by a change of conferences and a vastly different style of play among foes might have had as much to do with the down year as the players.
Already having lost three seniors – Deniz Kilicli, Matt Humphrey, and Dom Rutledge – word came Monday that three rising juniors in Aaron Brown, Volodymyr Gerun, and Jabarie Hinds have asked for, and been granted, their releases to transfer.
Among those, Hinds is probably the only surprise.
Brown showed spurts his freshman year but wasn’t able to find a role – or minutes – as he regressed in Year 2. He appeared in 17 games in 2012-13, averaging 1.2 points and 0.9 rebounds per game.
In other words, he offered little, if anything.
Gerun, a 6-foot-10 sophomore forward from Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, played in only seven games, 1.3 points and 0.7 rebounds.
He offered even less.
Hinds was the key in a seven-player recruiting class out of Mount Vernon, N.Y., the same high school that gave Kevin Jones to WVU. His departure, along with that of Brown, leaves only Gary Browne and Keaton Miles from that class (Rutledge came in that year as well, but he arrived via junior college and had only two years to play).
Hinds had star power written all over him, listed among the top 100 recruits in the country and the No. 20 point guard. But his numbers fell across the board from a fairly solid freshman year. Though he appeared in all 32 games last season, he wound up playing 220 fewer minutes and his field goal, and 3-point field goal percentage dropped appreciably. He also had more turnovers (55) than assists (52).
What’s worse, his confidence sank further than any of those numbers.
Some of this movement was entirely predictable. Brown, for one, never did look comfortable in Huggins’ system. Plus, Huggins and his fellow coaches had already brought in four players next season for three spots, so someone was going to go.
Four stars Devin Williams (6-8, 225) out of Montverde Academy in Florida, and Elijah Macon (6-8, 210), out of Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, have already committed, along with three-star center Brandon Watkins (6-10, 2-10) out of Atlanta, and Morgantown’s Nathan Adrian.
It appears two more names will surface in the next nine days – though that’s not a certainty. But Huggins has said he never stopped recruiting, even when the roster was full.
That has the potential to be a six-player class for next season, presumably all with the makeup and mentality it takes to play in the Big 12, where the game is played entirely differently than it was in the Big East.
Change doesn’t necessarily mean better though. If there’s one knock on Huggins since he came to WVU, it’s been his inability to keep classes together for one reason or another.
There’s a long list of guys that have come in under his watch, and a relatively short one of players who have stuck it out for four years – Jones, Kilicli, and Truck Bryant. Casey Mitchell, Humphrey and Rutledge all did finish their college basketball allotment at WVU after coming in as transfers.
At the moment, Juwan Staten, Miles, Aaric Murray, Terry Henderson, Eron Harris, Kevin Noreen, and Browne are WVU’s only scholarship players.
Huggins says they’ll be better. Swears to it. He’s got his work cut out for him.
Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org