#101 West Virginia Mountaineers: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season.  We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

What’s up with the West Virginia Mountaineers basketball program?  Last season, WVU finished with their worst record in a decade and it won’t get much better in the Big 12 this year since Bob Huggins loses three seniors, four players to transfer, and had to dismiss arguably their most talented player.

WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS
Last Season: 8th, 6-12 in Big 12, 13-19 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 8th

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Kevin Noreen (Jr)/Brandon Watkins (Fr)
PF: Jonathan Holton (Jr)/Remi Dibo (Jr)/Devin Williams (Fr)/Elijah Macon (Fr)/Nathan Adrian (Fr)
SG: Eron Harris (So)
SG: Terry Henderson (So)/Daxter Miles (Fr)
PG: Juwan Staten (Jr)/Gary Browne (Jr)

Gone: C-Deniz Kilicli, PF-Dominic Rutledge, SG-Matthew Humphrey, C-Aaric Murray (dismissed), F-Keaton Miles (transfer-Arkansas), G/F-Aaron Brown (transfer-St. Joseph’s), PG-Jabarie Hinds (transfer-UMass), F/C-Volodymyr Gerun (transfer-Portland)

2013-2014 Outlook:
The dismissal of center Aaric Murray was a huge blow to a West Virginia Mountaineers team that was already losing several key frontcourt contributors.  As it stands, Kevin Noreen is the only returning post player with six new faces entering the fold.  Noreen is a physical presence inside but known more for his toughness and rebounding than ability to score the basketball.

That means there will be plenty of competition among the newcomers and opportunity to step into major roles.  Jonathan Holton and Remi Dibo are junior college transfers who will probably have a leg up for immediate minutes.  Holton was booted out of Rhode Island stemming from legal issues about a voyeurism case and if ruled eligible, brings versatility and athleticism at the forward position.  Dibo can also play either the three or four and stretch defenses with his outside shooting.

Four freshmen will also battle for frontcourt minutes.  Elijah Macon ended up going to a prep school last season, delaying his arrival at West Virginia.  He and Devin Williams appear most ready to see minutes right away while Brandon Watkins and Nathan Adrian will likely be the odd men out of the rotation.

With all the uncertainty in their frontcourt, the Mountaineers will rely heavily on their guard play.  Even though he didn’t top double digits, Eron Harris led West Virginia in scoring last year as a freshman averaging 9.8 points per game.  He and fellow sophomore Terry Henderson are capable outside shooters which makes Juwan Staten’s job of creating as a point guard even more important so that he can find open guys on the wing.  By the way, Staten is the exact opposite of a capable outside threat as he was 0-9 on his triple tries last season.

There isn’t a whole lot of depth in the backcourt with Gary Browne and late signee Daxter Miles as the only reserve guards on the roster.  Browne has seen quality minutes in first two years in Morgantown but has his limitations as a scorer.  I would expect Huggins to start a three-guard line-up but wouldn’t at all be surprised if he uses a taller, longer frontline quite often since there is simply a lack of depth at guard.

With only five players returning from last year’s team that finished with a below five hundred record, there is a ton of turnover and questions for West Virginia especially in the frontcourt.  Huggins has work cut out for him and figures to be in for another long season.

Player to Watch: Juwan Staten
I don’t want to actually look this stat up since it would take forever, but I can’t imagine there were many starting point guards at the Division One level who didn’t hit a single three last year.  That’s somewhat baffling…  Anyway, the former Dayton transfer didn’t make the impact in his first season with the Mountaineers that most had hoped and must pick up his production and leadership if WVU has any chance of exceeding expectations.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/26 vs. Old Dominion (Cancun Challenge)
11/27 vs. Wisconsin/St. Louis (Cancun Challenge)
12/5 at Missouri

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#104 DePaul
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#107 TCU
#108 Virginia Tech
#109 Georgia
#110 Utah
#111 Auburn

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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