MORGANTOWN. W.Va. — A day after announcing three sophomores were transferring, West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins described the players as “great kids” and pledged assistance as they seek new schools.

On their way out are guards Jabarie Hinds and Aaron Brown, two heralded recruits from the 2011 signing class, and Ukrainian forward Volodymyr Gerun, who signed last August and barely saw action.

According to the NCAA, some 440 basketball players transferred before last season, representing about 10 percent of the scholarship slots in Division I. Current NCAA trends show a whopping 40 percent of D-I men’s players are changing schools by the end of their sophomore years.

“I transferred and had a great experience here,” said Huggins, who graduated from WVU in 1977 after beginning his college career at Ohio. “People act like it’s a terrible thing to transfer, but those same people were probably sitting in the stands cheering like crazy for Mike Gansey,” the guard who helped WVU to the 2005 Elite Eight after transferring from St. Bonaventure.

In evaluating transfers, it’s common for programs to talk with coaches at the player’s previous school. According to Huggins, he’ll give all three departures positive recommendations: “They’re great kids, and I’ve always said that. We told each of them we’d help them in any way we can.”

Brown played in all 33 games as a freshman, but only 17 as a sophomore, averaging about six minutes per outing and 1.2 points. Gerun was suspended for his first six games by the NCAA and eventually appeared in only seven contests.

“We’ve got two guys who want more playing time, and that’s admirable,” Huggins said.

Hinds, on the other hand, was a regular, starting 59 of 65 games in two years at WVU. But he suffered through a season-long shooting slump as a sophomore when he averaged 7.4 points.

“Honestly, we didn’t have much of a conversation,” Huggins said. “I like Jabarie very much, and Jabarie and I have a very good relationship. But after a year like we had, I think if any of them don’t have both feet in, they probably do need to move. It’s going to take a heck of a lot of work and commitment to get this back to where we all want it to be.”

Clyde Jones, Brown’s former coach at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, Pa., said the three-star recruit was puzzled as to why his playing time dipped this past season.

“It was frustrating because for whatever reason — and Aaron still doesn’t know what that reason was — he fell out of favor,” Jones said. “I would call and check on him to make sure he was still practicing hard and doing things right in the classroom, but he still never got any reason why he wasn’t playing.

“We don’t understand what happened and why he got so deep in the doghouse. As a coach, if you can’t tell a kid why he’s not playing even though he’s working hard and earning his keep, then he just must not be in your plans anymore. Or your plans changed on the fly.”

In an interview with his hometown newspaper, Brown said “I don’t know what happened’ regarding his diminished playing time.

“I went from starting an NCAA Tournament game (as a freshman) to not playing,” Brown told the Delaware County Times. “I had a thumb (injury) that kept me out of a few games. But coming back from that, I was thrown for a loop with why I didn’t play.

“Sitting out was brand new to me. I wouldn’t say it was a bad situation, but I’m used to playing.”

Jones said the news of the transfer was only minutes old when multiple schools began inquiring about Brown, who was on pace to graduate with a degree in sports management in three years. Coming out of high school, Brown chose WVU over Temple, Florida, La Salle, Rutgers and St. Joseph’s.

“At 11 o’clock (Monday) morning, my phone started ringing,” Jones said. “Schools were calling from all the way out West to the Philadelphia area.

“Aaron’s going to be fine. He’s going to land on his feet.”

Jones said this wouldn’t necessarily sour future Penn Wood High players from considering WVU, but added, “I just hope Aaron takes some time to look around and find coaches who have his best interest at heart and aren’t just giving lip service.”

Huggins told MetroNews Tuesday he did not foresee any other players leaving, suspending speculation that junior center Aaric Murray and sophomore forward Keaton Miles would transfer.

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  • driller

    Lucky to have Huggy. Kids these adays are crybabies

  • gv

    I think we all should do the right thing and send Billy Hahn some "5 hour energy" to get him through the games or a pillow for the scorer's table!

    • gv

      Do you think Hahn slept through more games than our defensive coordinator in football did last year? He could sleep while standing on sidelines but preferred the booth when the weather got cold!

  • Jim

    I do not pretend to have any insight on the particular players on the team or the ones leaving, but have any of you talked to some of these kids today from sixteen to twenty plus?? The disrespect some of these kids show any and all adults is simply disgraceful!! Yes I know they say show respect to receive respect, and screaming at these kids may or may not be the best approach but I got to tell you any person, coach or parent that are dealing with kids today sure have my respect! And please don't say that I'm some seventy year old that has no hold on reality, I am in my forties and if I spoke to any of my coaches or family the way some of these kids speak today I'm sure I wouldn't be here today.

  • Mike

    Kids now days are weak. When I played jr high and high school ball in the late 70's and early 80's what Huggins does would have been light compared to what we went through. I never gave up and going through that process made me who I am today. I see my old coaches from time to time and I have nothing but respect for each of them. Stop raising kids like they are saints and untouchable. Put a little back bone back in them and the whole society will change. I respect a hard nose coach like Huggins.

  • Shadow

    I would like to hear from a Marine that went through Boot Camp about this issue and how it affected him.

  • JL

    Huggy cost WVU $230,769.23 per game last year. Was that worth it?

  • JL

    Jennings, Cottrell, Pepper, Brown, Hinds, Gerun. The exit ramp is crowded at the Coliseum.

  • Big John

    I believe that it is best for the kids who do not want to improve their play go elsewhere. They have a great practice facility so they go could go pratice anytime they like. I believe we need a clock in system so that in games that are blowouts one way or the other that those who have practiced more get to play. More you pratice the more you get to play. Need to have players who have pride on the west virginia mountaineers uniform uphold that tradition of hard work.

  • big tom

    will have to tape huggie's mouth shut or he'll be fired for sure...

  • tony

    hines leaving was the key

  • jethro

    if this rutgers thing takes hold i would caution huggins to be careful, they are talking about verbal abuse too not just physical abuse

  • big tom

    ok ok , huggs is our coach ,and with that salary , he ain't goin nowhere. get used to it , at least for two more yrs.

    my biggest complaint at this time, is that huggs didn't run off a few more, and i think we all know you those two are,,, for some strange reason both of them sat out a game or two last season, and i just wish they would be setting out all of next season.
    If huggs is starting over,, let's clean house, and build a new foundation with good ,talented BB smart players who can shoot and make layups... go eers.

    • Shawn

      Even if he did clean house, you would still expect 30-0 in the first rebuilding year. Dude you cant play both sides...either you're with WVU or you're not.

  • mark

    I think it's interesting that Huggs is called a great teacher. What an amazing double standard. No teacher in the classroom could ever get away with the same foul language and abusive behavior that our coach is permitted to engage in.

    • wenkev

      That is not a true statement. I had at least two professors in college who were fairly foul mouthed.

  • Ted

    The program was in a 30 year abyss when Huggs got here. We hadn't sniffed a final four since the 50's. Getting one... well that buys you some time to right the ship in my book. I can live with that and the Big East Championship for a bit while he gets it righted.

    Who in the hell do you think you are going to hire to replace the 3rd place most winning active coach in America?

    • cutty77

      I love Huggs,but doing fine without Bob Knight,and Cinny is doing fine without Huggs.Anybody and Everybody can be replaced.

  • Big harv Lantz

    Bob Huggins is a terrific coach..Don't fool yourself.
    He should clean his vocabulary up some,,but don't ever question his desire for his teams, and his players to succeed...Not for his sake,,for their sake.
    Having only attended a few practices over the years(during his clinics) ..I can only say that his love for his players,,his school,,and most of all his State should not be in question..
    He is not on an ego trip,,he doesn't have to be..his credentials are hall of fame ready now..
    Blast him all you want,,that is your right...But ,,while you are doing so,,remember,,He wasn't forced out of Kansas,,he left there for the only team that meant more to him than Kansas...W.V.U..He could have stayed there and, like John Beilein,at Michigan, have a lot easier time recruiting..He would have had a much larger T.V market,a zealous fan base,,and a secure job for as long as he wanted....but he choose our state.
    You must also remember that Mr .Beilein was not forced out of W.V.U....He left because he felt he could not recruit the players he wanted..If I remember the comments attributed to him at that his present school he has found it much easier to get players of a high caliber every year...Hey,,,more power to him..That was his choice..
    I, for one am proud of my state,,our school and our coach..I am so very gratetful that even though it is more difficult to attract players recruited by bigger, more publicized schools,Huggs gets his share..
    We had a bummer year for sure,,but my faith has never been stronger. Big harv

    • big tom

      keep drinkin that kool-aid