MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With so many players gone from last year’s 13-win Mountaineers basketball team—and so many new ones coming in—sophomore guard Eron Harris suddenly finds himself as one of the more experienced players for West Virginia heading into next season.
It’s likely Harris would have been looked to as a leader this coming season regardless of the departure of those five underclassmen from last year’s team—but now it’s a role that is undoubtedly his.
“This is the opportunity that I’ve been looking for,” Harris said. “I have to take it and run with it. I’ve been put in the leader position and now I just have to take it and get my teammates on the same page, that’s all it is. I can’t wait for the season to come so I can see what I have in myself and I can show my teammates what I have as a leader.”
Harris, who finished with double-figures in scoring during 13 of WVU’s final 17 games, ultimately led the Mountaineers in scoring. His new comfort level as a sophomore, specifically, will be key for West Virginia this upcoming year.
It’s also fair to say that overall team chemistry last year was not close to where it needed to be, to put it lightly. Perhaps the reworked mix of players will gel together overall, giving the Mountaineers more of a team feel. Perhaps.
“I plan on leading by example and just moving on,” Harris said. “I just want to show that what happened (with all the roster turnover) wasn’t a big devastation, that we can handle what happened. I think our main contributors are going to be who our main contributors were last year—me, Terry (Henderson), Juwan (Staten), Gary (Browne) and (Kevin Noreen).”
Of course, there will also be expectations for significant contributions from incoming freshman Devin Williams, who has established his presence during summer league play in Pittsburgh.
“The best guy I see right now is Devin,” Harris said. “He’s been surprising to me, and coming in as a freshman, he’s very comfortable. Last year I wasn’t that comfortable – I was scared to take shots. But Devin came in and is asking for the ball, rebounding and blocking shots. One time he dribbled the full-court and dunked it through people. He’s doing great and I can’t wait to see what he does in the regular season.”
“This is the opportunity that I’ve been looking for,” Harris said. “I have to take it and run with it. I’ve been put in the leader position and now I just have to take it and get my teammates on the same page, that’s all it is. I can’t wait for the season to come so I can see what I have in myself and I can show my teammates what I have as a leader.” — Eron Harris
Of course, the other newcomers participating in the summer league have been Nate Adrian and Brandon Watkins.
“Nate can shoot the lights out, which I think everyone knows,” Harris said. “Brandon still needs some work, but he gets in there and does his best. He’s out there blocking shots with his length and he’s getting some dunks. The best thing he does I think is his mid-range jumper. But he, like all of us, still has a lot of work to do.”
Adrian, Williams and Watkins are part of a large group of newcomers—a key core of those players are still working on academic details to qualify at WVU in Remi Dibo, Jonathan Holton and Elijah Macon.
Regardless, Harris expects everyone to be on the same page this season – something he has taken it upon himself to help keep together.
“We still have three guys that are trying to make it here that haven’t gotten here yet,” Harris said. “But when they do, I’ll try to get them on (the same) boat. I want me, Terry, Juwan and Gary to really stress to the younger guys that we just have to buy in, that’s all.”