West Virginia Mountaineers Looking for Frontcourt Answers (Big 12 Preview)

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The West Virginia Mountaineers have an experienced backcourt but holes to fill up-front.

WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS
Last Season: 2nd, 13-5 in Big 12, 26-8 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 2nd

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Nathan Adrian (Sr)/Brandon Watkins (Sr)/Sagaba Konate (Fr)
F: Esa Ahmad (So)/Elijah Macon (Jr)/Maciej Bender (Fr)/Lamont West (rsFr)
SG: Daxter Miles (Jr)/Chase Harler (Fr)
G: Tarik Phillip (Sr)/Teyvon Myers (Sr)
PG: Jevon Carter (Jr)/James Bolden (rsFr)

Gone: PF-Devin Williams, G-Jaysean Paige, F-Jonathan Holton

Strengths:
Even with the loss of leading scorer Jaysean Paige, West Virginia returns a balanced scoring attack with their three returning guards. Jevon Carter, Tarik Phillip, and Daxter Miles all averaged about 9.5 points per game a year ago. Phillip and Carter are fairly interchangeable as both are capable of running the point or playing off the ball. This trio’s ability to pressure the ball defensively and force turnovers is really what makes them such a tough backcourt for opposing teams to deal with.

Question Marks:
Bob Huggins’ teams have always been known as tenacious rebounders but with Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton gone, the Mountaineers top returning rebounder is Nathan Adrian who averaged just 3.1 boards in 18 minutes per game. Esa Ahmad and Elijah Macon will take on larger roles this season and need to chip in on the glass to ensure West Virginia remains a relentless rebounding team.

Player to Watch:
Phillip came off the bench last season and was one of the most effective sixth men in the Big 12. Now a starter, Phillip seems the most likely to emerge as the Mountaineers top scorer especially since he connected on 41% of his three-point attempts a year ago.

X-Factor:
Huggins needs one of his frontcourt players to have a breakout season and Ahmad is the likely candidate. A former top 50 recruit, the 6-8, 225 pounder brings a nice combination of strength and athleticism to the forward position.

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Looking Ahead to 2017-18:
WVU has already secured three commitments for their 2017 class, top 100 power forward Derek Culver, JUCO forward D’Angelo Hunter, and point guard Brandon Knapper.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/24 vs. Illinois (NIT Season Tip-Off)
11/25 vs. Florida State/Temple (NIT Season Tip-Off)
12/3 at Virginia
1/28 vs. Texas A&M (SEC/Big 12 Challenge)

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 Milwaukee to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag), and finished with the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft (nearly a three-peat.) You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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