Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

Terry Henderson, Eron Harris (middle) and Juwan Staten represented the hope for West Virginia’s backcourt next season. But Staten is considering an NBA future and Harris announced Monday he is transferring.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Sophomore guard Eron Harris plans to transfer from West Virginia after averaging 17.2 points per game this season.

Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins announced the move Monday, saying Harris requested and was granted his release.

“I have enjoyed my time at West Virginia University the past two years, but I want to transfer closer to home,” Harris said in a statement released by the school. “I want to be closer to my family, especially being around my little brother.”

The 6-foot-3 Harris, who’s from Indianapolis, played in all 33 games this season and figured to be a key part of WVU’s returning nucleus next year. He ranked fourth in the Big 12 in scoring and was a conference honorable mention.

“We have enjoyed Eron and his contributions to Mountaineer basketball,” said Huggins. “Of all people, I certainly know what it is like to be closer to family and friends. That’s why I did it as a student-athlete, then as a coach.”

With junior point guard Juwan Staten (18.1 points) evaluating early entry into the NBA draft, West Virginia could be faced with replacing the Big 12’s highest-scoring backcourt next season.

Harris was an intriguing player for the Mountaineers, an underrated high school prospect who seemed surprised by his own success in a power conference. During a late-season chat before the Big 12 tournament, he discussed the transformation from high school role player to one of WVU’s biggest weapons:

“My freshman year (at Lawrence North High School) I played on the freshman team. My sophomore year I played on the JV and I got moved up to varsity for one game. I wasn’t too confident, but I was trying to find my way. I was trying to find what my game was, how athletic I was, what was my niche specialty. Everybody else was getting ranked, everybody else was getting recruited, but I really wasn’t.

“I have never been that guy. And now that there’s a suggestion that I am the guy or that I could be one of the guys, it’s crazy for me mentally.”

Harris was prone to these long, reflective ruminations, especially after trying to cope with poor performances, and it revealed a lot about a player who didn’t want to viewed solely as a jock:

“Basketball is a sport. I’m not going to have basketball forever. This is for fun. Some people take it more seriously than they should, probably because they have nothing else to worry about but basketball.

“Sometimes my dad has to remind me that it’s not as big as I make it sometimes. When you don’t succeed all the time—when you get down on yourself, and you think that the world’s over and I’m not a good basketball player and I’m not getting as much hype as this other guy, my team isn’t winning—I’m not worth anything. Sometimes you think that.

“It’s about learning how to live life. That’s why I’m here in Morgantown, W.Va., of all places.”

Harris wasn’t riffing on West Virginia with that last comment, but rather commenting on how Mountaineers coaches offered him at a point when only mid-major programs around the Midwest were interested.

Now, following his breakout season against Big 12 competition, Harris certainly has more options as he seeks his next college destination.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR NEXT SEASON
Is there a gunner on next year’s team who can match Harris’ 42-percent 3-point shooting (third-best in the Big 12)? Yes, and his name is Terry Henderson, who just happened to be Harris’ roommate and a fellow member of the 2013 signing class.

Presuming Staten returns as a senior (a 50-50 prospect), Huggins could play Henderson at the two guard, with Jonathan Holton at the three spot and Devin Williams and Elijah Macon at the four and five.

Losing Harris, however, costs Huggins a big dose of continuity, which can be an overvalued commodity at times—Iowa State’s status as “Transfer U” doesn’t seem to be suffering much. Though after hearing Huggins harp on his newcomers’ inability to make proper defensive rotations and properly align in offensive sets, continuity seems rather consequential in this case.

Harris’ exit also costs Huggins the flexibility to run a high-powered, experienced three-guard lineup. Plugging in a freshman like Jevon Carter or Daxter Miles won’t immediately concern defenses to the same extent.

Of course, losing Harris means gaining a scholarship. His decision to leave so soon after the season affords WVU time to dive into college basketball’s unofficial free-agency period and seek a graduate transfer who could impact next year’s team, or the more conventional undergrad who would be eligible in 2015-16.

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Comments

  • wvufaninpa

    One more point. Not only are we having trouble getting players to come here, we have trouble keeping them. What a mess.

  • wvufaninpa

    mad hatter, You're spot on.

  • JT

    Now more than ever we need Staten to stay.

  • true blue n gold

    I believe that most WVU fans find the large number of transfers from the WVU basketball program and lack of success to be a major problem.

    I watched as Belein took over for WV legend Gale Catlett and a troubled WVU b-ball program when Catlett could no longer put forth a good team. Belein recruited quality kids that stayed in the program and were highly successful. Belein proved to eveyone he was one of the best coaches/recruiters in America.

    Coach Huggins teams/rosters/recruits have been a revolving door and now void of the Belein recruits are for the most part unsuccessful and a huge let down for Mountaineer fans. I wonder if Coach Huggins has reached the Cale Catlett point of his career and is it time for a change.

    • Frank/Moundsville

      Huggins has indeed morphed into Catlett, an overpaid caretaker of the program.

  • mad hatter

    now if we could only get get staten and henderson to leave, we'd have even more scholarships to give out,,, we'd just keep getting better and better.
    I like you guy's perspective on harris leaving,, "weakening our team only makes it stronger" you guys crack me up

  • TruthTeller

    WVU just needs a better recruiting staff. They are not getting the same kind of talent that Beilin was getting. WVU needs shooters that can also defend. Huggs needs to let that defensive mind set go!! You need points to win
    the game.

  • Jake

    This is surprising but he was an emotional kid... What will cause me to give up on college basketball is if Staten insteAd of going pro transfers to another school.I understand he graduates in may.

  • cutty77

    Botton line is Huggs is very hard to play for. This Old School Coaching of yelling and screaming at players is over with. Eron was a very good player,but if it didn't go his way,he went sideways. Remember last year when he got upset when Huggs put him on the bench,and he started crying. But he may come around before its all over. Life ain't fair sometimes. Go back to Buie of The Football Team.

    • Chris1529

      I think that the players all, and I mean all, need to start yellng and screaming back at Huggins the way he does to them. If he tells them to go get on the treadmill, he needs to go get on the one right beside them and run too!

  • jay zoom

    Harris just got sick of the way Huggins treats his players maybe the real reason Huggins let him go is being kept hush/hush. to save his own butt. look for possibly more to leave the program including incoming prospects. Staten is one I hear you can't treat players like dirt as Huggins has shown in the past. THANKS OLLIE

  • Shadow

    Both Harris and Huggins have acted very honestly and humanly in this situation. It is easy to understand Harris' motive to be near his family and friends. Particularly to anyone who served an isolated tour while in the Service.

    Everyone blames Huggins for being unable to recruit. However, you have to find someone who is willing to live in Morgantown which is isolated from many of the good recruits. Most likely, there are better schools closer home with more accessibility for friends and family. WVU maybe in the wrong League for its capability.

    • Chris1529

      I think it is getting harder and harder for the university to sell Morgantown.

  • Brian

    Thank you for trying to help our WVU basketball team. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

    I'm not one of those who put basketball or athletics on a pedestal but recognize their importance. The single biggest issue with WVU athletics is mindset. The football team and basketball both are plagued with inconsistency for years - WVU lost to Pitt due to mindset and lost their chance at a national championship over an easy to win game according to all the experts. Same with basketball. Instead of fighting the whole team lost momentum when one of their starters was injured in the tournament years ago. The media remarked how sad and touching Huggs was when he held the injured player's head on the court. Time to throw the flag! Were the player truly a leader he would've yelled "fight on Mounties and win this thing". But no, with minutes still left to play, all the air was lost in the teams sails leading to another loss. We fans love the game and our team but the heart and mindset of the players makes it tough at times.

    • mad hatter

      in all truthfulness, Duke was destroying us before desean got hurt,,,only michael jordan could have turned this game around.

      • Aaron

        De'Sean.

  • Chef Camille

    Every program loses players after the season. Get on with it and prepare for what you have for next season.

  • Aaron

    I think the biggest thing being lost is that Bob Huggins was one of two coaches willing to take a chance on this ESPN 2 star recruit when numerous schools in his own back yard wouldn't even offer. They point to recruits leaving as an example of his inability to recruit while at the same time they lament the recruit leaving.

    You can't make that stuff up.

    • mad hatter

      rivals and scout had him ranked as a three star,, fyi

      • Aaron

        Are you saying he was highly recruited or something? Why is it that Ball State, the Marshall Of Indiana didn't even take a chance?

  • Bob

    Maybe Harris would like to play for a team because he, Staten and Henderson had to carry the scoring burden? Maybe he was tired of triangles and 2 on he and Staten and knowing the other three couldn't score enough to win?

  • BH

    I'm ready for football season. Let's GOOOOO Mountaineers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!