MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As an eighth-grader playing his first season of organized basketball, Lamont West liked to watch the varsity practices at Withrow High in Cincinnati.
Specifically, he liked watching Devin Williams.
“He used to dominate the practices and I wanted to be like him. He was real good,” West recalled during an appearance on MetroNews “Sportsline.”
West has turned out to be a pretty good player himself and signed with West Virginia this week, meaning he’ll soon become a teammate of Williams. The fourth recruit in the Mountaineers’ 2015 signing class doesn’t hide his happiness over being reunited with his high school idol.
“When they offered me I was like, ‘Yes!’ because I wanted to play with him. It really influenced me a lot,” West said.
Listed between 6-foot-7 and 6-8 by recruiting services, West said he’s actually 6-9 and focused on adding muscle to his slender physique.
“I weigh 205, so if I can get to 225 or 230 I think that would be good,” West said.
Like Williams, West left Withrow High as a senior. He transferred to Miller Grove High in Lithonia, Ga., and blossomed into a Rivals three-star prospect while earning scholarship offers from Arkansas, Mississippi State and St. John’s.
West Virginia had another recruiting advantage in that West had played AAU ball with incoming signee James “Beetle” Bolden, a point guard from Covington, Ky.
While describing himself as a versatile forward capable of playing the three or four spots, West remains raw, having only gone out for basketball upon recognizing that he was among the tallest students in the eighth grade. That was a late start for a kid whose mom, Tonya Kirk, was a four-year starter at Purdue and a key member of a Final Four team in 1994.
“She didn’t really force me to play basketball,” said West, who received an offer from Saint Francis by his ninth-grade season.
Upon reporting to Morgantown in June, West is looking forward to improving his basketball IQ.
“I want to learn to take smarter shots,” he said, “because sometimes I can force a couple shots up, I won’t lie.”