Countdown to College Basketball: #48 West Virginia Mountaineers

As College Basketball counts down, we are now 48 days until the official start of College Basketball and that means it is time to talk about should-be Hall of Fame Coach, Bob Huggins’ West Virginia Mountaineers. The Mountaineers were a three-seed in the NCAA Tournament but were upset in the second round a season ago. Now with Miles “McBuckets” McBride and Derek Culver off to play professionally, they enter somewhat of a rebuilding season. 

While McBride is gone, former JUCO transfers Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil still provide a lethal shooting backcourt to build upon. Sherman will likely step in and be the go-to scorer, while not as efficient as McNeil, Sherman possesses the ability to create his own shot off the dribble. McNeil is more of a spot-up shooter but he’s more efficient than Sherman and is more heavily relied upon to shoot it from beyond the arc. Ideally neither of these two run the point for the Mountaineers and play off the ball similarly to what they did last year when McBride was running the show at the point. 

Malik Curry will be the starting point guard for this team, he is a solid scorer but is a good passer, and defender, who should step in and be a solid option at the point. Kedrian Johnson played a limited role a season ago but should be more of a sixth man this season. While Johnson doesn’t seem poised to play a huge role, guards tend to play better in year two under Bob Huggins and that could be the case in this case. 

While that duo of guards will take the lead role scoring-wise, their frontcourt will be key. Gabe Osabouhien presents the defensive toughness that a Bob Huggins coached team possesses, he’s a good defender that can guard the post, and switch defensively, and can help create offense through his defense. Jalen Bridges should start at the 4, he’s a perfect modern-day four-man that can shoot it from deep, although he still needs to improve defensively. Isaiah Cottrell possesses some high-upside but wasn’t really used at all a season ago, him stepping into a bigger role would be key. Pauly Paulicap can provide some shot-blocking, rebounding, and interior scoring and probably will split minutes with Gabe Osabouhien at the 5.

The key to this team will be Malik Curry’s ability to run the show at the point, him setting up the shooting will be key. Sherman and McNeil will be able to continue knocking down shots but neither has been the primary option yet at this level. Inside, there are good pieces, Jalen Bridges will be a good floor-spacing 4 but not a true replacement for Derek Culver. 

There is a route to West Virginia being a Top-25 team, especially if Curry can be anything like McBride. That said, I’m not sure he can step in and be the same level of player. Furthermore, while frontcourt play seems to be a thing of the past, it still is important to have the ability to get a bucket inside. West Virginia will likely be hit or miss this season, if the shots are going in, they can beat any team on their schedule. If they have a poor shooting night, they will struggle to win games. 

Projected Rotation

PG: Malik Curry

SG: Sean McNeil

SF: Taz Sherman

PF: Jalen Bridges

C: Gabe Osabouhein

B1: Kedrian Johnson

B2: Pauly Paulicap

B3: Isaiah Cotrell

B4: Seth Wilson

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