MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — West Virginia’s effort to clear freshman forward Oscar Tshiebwe of his visa restriction to allow him to travel to Spain went up until the day left for the exhibition tour, Bob Huggins said Wednesday.
“It’s not going to be a problem,” the West Virginia head coach said. “It was at that particular time, but everything changes.”
Tshiebwe, a five-star recruit from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was not be cleared by Spain to enter its border.
Tshiebwe, who first came to the United States as a high school freshmen, is in this country on a student visa.
“Their reasons for getting in or not getting don’t always stay the same,” Huggins said. “They don’t last forever, either.”
The bigger question surrounds Tshiebwe’s status for West Virginia’s regular-season games in Cancun, Mexico, on Nov. 26 and 27.
“Not yet, but he will be,” Huggins said when asked if Tshiebwe is cleared to play in Cancun.
Without the prized recruit, the Mountaineers still went 3-0 on the tour with an average margin of victory of 41.6 points.
“It was totally different watching this group,” Huggins said. “One, their togetherness and having the ability to rely on each other was good. They played really hard.”
Huggins was quick to point out the play of senior forward Logan Routt and freshman guard Deuce McBride during the exhibition tour.
Routt, a former walk-on from Cameron, who was put on full scholarship this summer, led the team in scoring at 17 points per game and also averaged 7.7 rebounds.
“He played really well and played really hard,” Huggins said. “He really ran the floor, which we were really pleased about.”
McBride, a 6-foot-2 guard from Cincinnati, showed positive signs in many different areas.
He averaged 10.3 points, but was also one of the team’s better defenders and was tied for the team lead with 10 steals.
He shot 54 percent from the floor and also averaged 3.7 assists.
“We played him at point guard some and he did a good job running the team,” Huggins said. “I thought his ball security was really good. He may have been our best perimeter defender. He shot the ball well. He’s physical enough to guard people bigger than him, but he can also guard people smaller than him. I thought he had a great trip.”
Routt and McBride also share the fact that they were both former high school quarterbacks. Huggins said the team played a game of touch football on the beach at Barcelona and the two quarterbacked their respective teams.
Beyond the arc
West Virginia shot 33.8 percent (27-of-80) from 3-point range, better than its 31.6 percent last season when the Mountaineers were last in the Big 12 in that category.
“I think it can be a big weapon for us,” Huggins said.
The Mountaineers’ top two 3-point shooters were senior Chase Harler (6-of-14) and junior-college transfer Sean McNeil (6-of-13), who sat out the final game of the tour with a stomach virus.
“The good thing is I think it will be a rarity to not have all of those guys make shots on the same day.”