Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Freshman Eron Harris has averaged 13.7 points during his eight starts, and his 3-point percentage would rank third in the Big 12 if he had enough makes to qualify.

 

After an October preseason practice during which Eron Harris became familiar with the Bob Huggins’ treadmill of punitive motivation, the freshman spoke about adapting to college basketball and “trying to find my place” on the West Virginia basketball team.

Now, as WVU enters the final four weeks of the regular season, Harris knows his place: It’s scoring option No. 1.

With seven double-digit outputs in the last eight games, Harris’ emergence as the Mountaineers’ go-to guy arrived sooner than anyone could have imagined. His team-leading 13.7 points per game during that stretch tickles Huggins, who recalled how not so long ago Harris “was just one of the guys kind of running around out there.”

In his first college start at Iowa State on Jan. 16, Harris spent the opening half playing like a guy who was just running around. He missed 4-of-5 shots and, to the coaching staff’s eyes, seemed overwhelmed. After halftime, however, with WVU trailing the Cyclones by 17, Harris ignited a comeback charge with 5-of-5 shooting, including four 3-pointers. Two of those baskets were catch-and-shoot bombs from logic-defying range, signs that Harris could become the floor stretcher WVU’s offense desperately required.

“I’ve had to mix my game up and get to the rim some. I’m in the (opponents’) scouting report as a shooter, so people are keying on me as a shooter and it’s tougher to get to open.”

Harris has made 32-of-73 shots (43 percent) in his eight starts, and his season-long 3-point percentage (.385) would rank third in the Big 12 save for the fact Harris is three makes shy of the qualifying minimum.

“My coaches are telling me now I’m not a freshman any more — I’m a player,” Harris said, and opponents are telling him through their extended defenses that he’ll have earned their attention.

“Now everybody is kind of setting up their defense to make sure he doesn’t get the looks that he got before,” Huggins said.

To Harris’ credit, he has adapted his game as defenses have altered theirs. While coming off the bench in this season’s first 15 games, Harris attempted a free throw every 13 minutes. As a starter, he’s getting to the line once every six minutes.

“I’ve had to mix my game up and get to the rim some,” he said. “I’m in the (opponents’) scouting report as a shooter, so people are keying on me as a shooter and it’s tougher to get to open.”

FRESHMAN PAIRING
Coincidentally, Harris joined the starting five that night in Ames because fellow freshman Terry Henderson remained in Morgantown with a back injury. Though Henderson hasn’t regained his starting role, that seemed of little matter Saturday when he and Harris combined for 31 points in a 63-50 win at TCU and played together during crucial late-game stretches.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As part of WVU’s hot-shooting freshman tandem, Terry Henderson has made 10-of-13 shots during the three-game win streak.

Harris envisioned that sort of cohesion — instead of fearing a logjam at the shooting guard position —when the three-star recruits committed to WVU within 22 days of one another in October 2011. Of late the duo’s ability to shoot sideline-to-sideline has led the Mountaineers to a statistical spike: Three straight games of 46-percent shooting or higher, which WVU had accomplished only three times in the season’s first 20 games.

Said Henderson after the rookies blistered TCU: “It’s fun playing with Eron because it’s hard for the defense to figure out. When we’ve got two athletic shooters on the floor, it’s hard to cover.”

Harris’ take on the freshman pairing — “There’s a bright future for us,” — portends well for future WVU seasons, but it could make the difference in whether this one leads to the NIT or something bigger.

Riding a mini-wave of three consecutive wins, the Mountaineers return to the Lone Star State on Wednesday night to face Baylor.

“We’ve got three in a row,” Harris said, “so let’s make it four.”

bubble graphic

21

bubble graphic

Comments

  • pghmountaineer

    Hop'sHip. You may be right but who will be the ones to go? Or maybe one or two of the new recruits will redshirt.

  • tony

    odd because when keaton is good defensively, he's been wicked this year at times. it seemed a few games no-one was getting a close shot because of the 3 of them blocking stuff (dk em and keaton). i like him as the 3 on our super big line up. i dont see him going anywhere unless there's something else afoot that we dont see. in fact, based on his play in games i've seen, he should get a few more minutes as is. there may have been a few quick yanks. in any event, i think he's further along than last year on both sides of the ball so to speak...

  • Pghmountaineer

    Honestly I don't see any of these guys leaving the team. What gives anyone that idea. They seem to be coming together as best they can with their talent level. I think there is nowhere to go but up at this point.
    Do you guys really believe some of the underclassmen won't return?

    • Justin

      Honestly a coach doesn't recruit 10 starters at any school. Name any D1 school that have 10 guys putting up starter numbers. Its about getting players that fit the system and who have character. Its amazing how if Huggins went and recruited a team full of cons and won no one would said say a word, yet let em lose trying to do what's right and its off with his head. Opinions are like Aholes we all have yet some of us go a step further in becoming one. The biggest bashers r usually the ones who haven't even participated on a sports team or even run a flight of steps without killing over. If by some chance we suck this bad next year in either football or basketball let's not dog the coaches, instead go to the man who's over em in Oilver Luck. If u have bad service u talk to the manager not the guy flipping the burger.

    • Hop'sHip

      It's math, Pghmountaineer. 10 players with remaining eligibility already on squad; four signees already recruited; coach still actively recruiting; 13 allowable scholarship players. Something has to give.

  • big tom

    let's face it shawn, you're an idiot

    • shawn

      I'm still waiting on an intelligent response. Looks like I'll be waiting for awhile.

  • shawn

    Nice argument! Haha

    Come back when you have something legit to say.

    Thanks and have a good day!

  • big tom

    hey shawn, if they had loved him , they would have stayed. as usual , you just don't get it.Just keep drinking the kool-aid

  • Shawn

    The last time I checked Huggs doesn't coach crushing pills and snorting them, finding wallets on the street and keeping them, shop lifting, and telling kids to walk off the court in the middle of the game. I think Dalton should've stayed because he had the right mentality but he knew he wasn't going to play. Some kids just arent mentally tough enough for college. Its hard enough for a regular student but its really difficult for student athletes. You can only monitor these guys so much, you cant make decisions for them.

  • big tom

    ask the 40 percent of his recruits who have tranferred, DUDE..

    • Shawn

      They transfer because they see the writing on the wall and arent going to play. I mean Paul Williamson (actually said he didn't need to be on a D1 team) , Cottrill (drugs), Forsythe and McCune (legal troubles/arrests), Jennings (Attitude/Lazy), and Dalton Pepper (not really burning up the nets for Temple - 26 % FG and 24% 3 FG). So who are these big time names that we are really missing? Please tell me because i'm dying to find out who Huggs ran off who would really be helping right now.

      • Hop'sHip

        Who recruited all those players you mentioned?

    • Larry

      As always, Big Tom makes some good points and Little Shawn does not...

      Kudos Tom!

  • big tom

    keaton miles was the star in the sky last year for huggie,, a starter,,, huggins has a tendency to try and convince us that he is really really good, just like he did with kilicili.. i think keaton can be a seventh man but not a starter, once again, bobby huggins is misleading us.
    for henderson and harris, i think bobby hit home runs no doubt...if he will just let them play and quit screaming at them for every little mistake, God , huggie, chill out, if you could just see how you act during a game you might justg stop it..
    i see aron browne leaving, and maybe miles.
    murray, who really cares, he seems to play with a passion sometimes and other times, he just lays down. just like kilicili.
    big test at baylor, we've played to bottom feeders, now we'll see if you really have made any improvements..go eers.

    • Shawn

      Dude do you play for Huggs? Do your kids play for Huggs? Huggs has passion for the game and wants to win games. He doesn't coach this team any different than he did the final four team. Go back and ask those kids if they loved Huggs and every one of them will say YES. Would Butler be on the bench right now coaching if he didn't love Bob Huggins...NO he wouldn't. The respect him and understand what type of coach he is when they are being recruited. If you dont like the way he coaches then stop watching the games.

  • Shawn

    I think he'll have a come to Jesus with all of his guys at the end of the season to see where they are and where they want to be.

    When you break the roster down, you have 4 guys who really aren't going to see much more time next year if any at all. Aaron Brown might take looks at other schools and I can see Aric Dickerson taking a walk as well. Richard Romeo will remain because he's happy just being on the team and I think Huggs likes his ability in practice situations. I would hate to see Keaton leave but with Williams, Macon, Watkins and Adrian coming in he my look elsewhere too. Those are all capable guards and Keaton really hasn't been in the game much to really contribute.

  • Hop'sHip

    With the team already overbooked by one and with the coach still aggressively recruiting, it's obvious that some currently on the team and with remaining eligibility will be asked to fulfill their potential elsewhere. I hope that doesn't include Keeton Miles. I know some consider him a disappointment, but in the little playing time he gets recently, I still see a tremendous upside to what he could contribute.

  • Larry

    Harris and Henderson are two bright spots for the WVU program. Hopefully the dynamic duo will continue to get even better. Good luck to them!

  • Wemakerain

    I agree, it's fun watching guys who just like playing ball, and that's what these guys do. Lets hope they are the start of something big for the next few years.

  • harvey Lantz

    It is fun to watch the young guys develope into the players they are now..Being freshmen,and knowing they will be around for three more years,,makes it even more enjoyable..
    Like most of you..I have no idea where the Mountaineers will end up this year,,,I just know that they can compete against the best of them,and are certainly no embarassment..
    The future in Morgantown sure looks bright..Lets goooooooooooo Mountaineers..Big Harv