MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Junior college point guard Tarik Phillip followed through on his 72-hours-old commitment and submitted his national letter of intent to West Virginia on Wednesday.

Mountaineers coaches didn’t appear to be hand-wringing over the possibility of a last-minute flip, despite programs like Kansas, Memphis and Oklahoma State chasing Phillip.

His impact was huge at Independence (Kan.) Community College this season: 18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, along with a Jayhawk Conference player of the year honor that was achieved despite appearing in only the final 18 games. (Watch Independence coach Tony Turner’s assessment of Phillip in the video above.)

“We are excited to be able to land a guard as talented as Tarik in the late signing period,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said. “Every coach we talked to labeled Tarik as a winner. He gives us much-needed versatility in the backcourt with the ability to play both guard positions. We look for him to be very instrumental in our quest to become a great defensive team again.”

While Wednesday marked the first day of the NCAA’s spring signing period, recall that Huggins added two other guards during the early signing period: Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles.

“This class gives us a much-needed shot of athleticism on the perimeter, and a group of guards with tremendous versatility and the ability to play with or without the ball,” said Huggins. “This depth should provide us the ability to turn up the pressure defensively.”

Defense ranged from a concern to an outright disaster at times this past season, when West Virginia bottomed out the Big 12 in field-goal defense by allowing 44.5-percent shooting. Looking at the conference-only totals for the 18-game round-robin, the numbers were worse: 47.4 percent field-goal defense overall (still last) and 36.5-percent defense on 3-pointers, which ranked eighth.

With Phillip supplanting transfer Eron Harris, the roster appears to be settled for now, though the shuffling last year continued into mid-July).

Here’s an early guess at the starting five next November:

G: Juwan Staten
 6-1, Sr.
18.1 ppg, 5.8 assists, 5.6 rebounds
G: Terry Henderson 
 6-4, Jr.
11.7 ppg, 2.7 rebounds, 37 percentt from 3
F: Remi Dibo
 6-7, Sr.
7.3 ppg, 3.1 rebs, 37 percent from 3
F: Jonathan Holton
 6-7, Jr.
ineligible in 2013-14
G: Elijah Macon
 6-9, Fr.
 ineligible in 2013-14


And the top five off the bench:

G: Tarik Phillip
 6-3, So.
18.3 ppg at Independence C.C.
F: Devin Williams
 6-7, So.
8.4 ppg, 7.2 rebounds
F: Nathan Adrian
 6-9, So.
5.4 ppg, 2.9 rebs, 35 percent from 3
G: Gary Browne
 6-1, Sr.
5.9 ppg, 2.4 rebounds
F: Kevin Noreen
 6-9, Sr.
2.0 ppg, 2.7 rebounds


That second rotation doesn’t include the 6-9 Brandon Watkins, whose freshman season included flashes but ultimately concluded with him riding the bench. Nor does it make room for the newcomers Carter and Miles, combo-guard prospects who might be talented enough to get on the court, but would do so at the expense of a senior like Browne.

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  • VaultHunter

    Well there has been a arrest warrant issued for Tarik Philip so we have a transfer a dui and an arrest on a incoming player.

    Yep right on schedule.

    Huggins is an embarrassment to WVU making 3 million a year and allowed to run this basketball program into the depths of hell.

    • Mister Man

      An arrest incoming player.

      • Mister Man

        Into the depths of hell? A college program is running into the depths of hell?

  • WVcoal

    We all know that Staten is deadly when driving to the basket from the right side. In the highlights, I saw Phillip take it to the hoop from the left side -- if Phillip can routinely score driving from the left, Staten and Phillip together could prove to be an offensive juggernaut.

  • VaultHunter

    Kid looks like a solid prospect. Welcome to the Mountaineer family!

    Not sure about Williams coming off the bench though. I would think Macon and Williams with Holton on the wing along with Staten and Henderson would be our best starting five.

    I just hope Macon and Holton are the real deal and have no issues getting on the court or its gonna be a repeat of this season at best.

  • Steve

    I agree that Watkins has the potential to be a really good player if he can do what the coaches ask of him and not get discouraged.

  • Mark

    I hope Watkins reads this and uses it as motivation. If this were me I'd be ticked and then go out to prove everyone wrong.

  • Rich

    I've been saying all along that if the "ineligible twins" are as good as advertised and if Noreen is going to stick around for his final year of eligibility then Watkins should be red-shirted. I think he has a ton of potential but he needs to get stronger. That leaves us with a pretty solid power rotation in 2015-16: Holton, Macon, Williams and Watkins. Also enables us to RS Levi Cook if he's not ready to play. Adding Philip raises the question: Do you RS one of the FR guards or both of them? I don't see us going 11 deep.

    • Allen

      Huggins rarely if ever RS a player unless injury occurs (see Noreen).

      Don't forget Noreen, Browne, Staten and Dibo are in their final season.

  • jay zoom

    we will see if one and done HUGGINS can transform this kid, Holton and Macon into a force to be heard in the big 12. I still think dibo will be a bust. if not it will be another season where we will be the laughing stock in big 12 college basketball. THANKS OLLIE

    • Allen

      Learn basketball Jay Z before ending the season before it even begins.

  • DP

    Welcome to WV Tarik! I'm sure Mountaineer Nation will embrace you-Best of Luck to you young man!!!!!

  • Aaron

    It should be noted the the starting 5 listed in the article is the one that Staten gave a few weeks back on Sportsline. If the emphasis is defense, I cannot imagine that he will start.

    • Mister Man

      His coach said Tarik is good on defense.

  • derek

    Watkins has showed spurts. Huggs work with this young man he has has alot of John Flowers attributes.

  • Mister Man

    Brandon Watkins will surprise. He will be better. I'm pulling for you young man. Keep working at it.

  • Harvey Lantz

    I to am stoked..Finally a Huggins like team who I feel can go deep..Also this group will be here for years,,giving new comers a chance to learn the system before being counted on to carry the load.

  • FNP

    This team is finally getting some depth. I believe if they all stay healthy and make it academically then this team will be much improved come Fall. I'm stoked.