West Virginia Basketball

West Virginia basketball loses all five starters from last season, but additions from the transfer portal and the recruiting trail put the Mountaineers in a position to compete in the Big 12.

Bob Huggins wasted no time getting West Virginia Basketball back into the conversation in the Big 12, adding three transfers and one more freshman to reinforce his depleted roster from just a season ago. Now, he looks to bring his new roster back to the promised land, and hopefully to a Big 12 Championship.

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Projected Rotation

PG: Malik Curry (6-1, 190, Sr.)

2021 stats: 15.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists (Old Dominion)

2022 projected stats: 14.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists

SG: Sean McNeil (6-3, 205, Sr.)

2021 stats: 12.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists

2022 projected stats: 13.7 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists

SF: Taz Sherman (6-4, 190, Sr.)

2021 stats: 13.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists

2022 projected stats: 11.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists

PF: Jalen Bridges (6-7, 225, So.)

2021 stats: 5.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.3 assists

2022 projected stats: 6.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists

C: Gabe Osabuohien (6-7, 240, Sr.)

2021 stats: 1.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists

2022 projected stats: 3.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists

6: Pauly Paulicap (6-8, 235, Sr.)

2021 stats: 7.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 0.1 assists (DePaul)

2022 projected stats: 6.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists

7: Kedrian Johnson (6-3, 185, Sr.)

2021 stats: 1.3 points, 0.8 points, 0.6 assists

2022 projected stats: 2.9 points, 0.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists

8: Dimon Carrigan (6-9, 230, Sr.)

2021 stats: 6.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 0.7 assists (FIU)

2022 projected stats: 7.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 0.5 assists

9: Seth Wilson (6-1, 215, Fr.)

247Sports 3-star rated recruit

2022 projected stats: 2.6 points, 1.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists

10: Isaiah Cottrell (6-10, 235, Rs.-Fr.)

2021 stats: 1.6 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists

2022 projected stats: 1.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists

Team MVP: Malik Curry

The Old Dominion transfer brings a dynamic offensive style to Bob Huggins’ offense. Curry averaged over 15 points per game last season, shooting over 45% from the field. Curry is great at driving to the hole but struggles from beyond the arc. He shot just 32.8% from the bonus sphere last season.

In an era of college hoops where the long ball wins games, Curry will have to improve his shot to be most effective on the offensive end of the ball. However, his presence on the floor and dynamic playmaking should allow for him to be the Mountaineers’ most valuable player. 

Make-or-Break Player: Pauly Paulicap

Paulicap will most likely come off the bench for West Virginia basketball, and bench minutes are huge for this squad. The style that Huggins plays involves maximum energy, so a short rotation is the opposite of what they need to be successful.

As it looks now, the WVU bench is very short. Paulicap, the Depaul transfer, has to adjust quickly to the faster pace of Big 12 basketball. If he does not, it puts the already weak bench in a very tough position. However, if he gets acclimated early on, his role will be crucial for the Mountaineers’ success.

Bench Rating: 3/10

Excluding transfers, West Virginia basketball brings back just 3.4 points per game on their projected bench. In addition, the bench is very forward dense, so the talented backcourt that the Mountaineers have do not get a lot of help from the bench. Overall, the bench will have to develop as the season goes on, or else West Virginia will deal with fatigue issues, especially in the most important games at the end of the season.

Analytic to Know: AdjT

Since the beginning of the KenPom era (2002), West Virginia basketball has been in the top 100 in all of college basketball in AdjT, or average possessions per 40 minutes. More possessions are due to a faster-paced game, as well as pressuring defense from Huggins’ signature press. The faster West Virginia basketball plays, the better they are. If the Mountaineers can finish in the top 50 in AdjT, they will be an elite team this season.

Team Outlook

Always seeming to fall under the radar in the Big 12, West Virginia basketball will have its hands full in the powerhouse conference. All of Kansas, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech are ranked ahead of the Mountaineers in the CBB Rank, so it will not be an easy road for West Virginia.

The good news for Bob Huggins’ team is that playing in a difficult conference means resume-boosting opportunities throughout the season. West Virginia has two matchups with each of the five teams mentioned above. Splits in all of those series are huge for the resume of the Mountaineers and can be crucial in seeding.

Out of conference, West Virginia basketball has a few notable games, including UConn at home on December 8. However, aside from the Charleston Classic, West Virginia only travels away from home once before they go to Austin with a matchup with Texas. That lack of road experience could be significant for the Mountaineers entering conference play.

Projected Conference Finish: 5th in Big 12

Projected Postseason Finish: NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Exit

Celling: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Exit

By Samuel Bass

Writing sports, college basketball, ACC hoops

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