MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The freshman season for West Virginia point guard James “Beetle” Bolden is over before it started.
Bolden suffered a torn ACL and sprained MCL in his right knee during a pickup game Saturday, injuries expected to sideline him for the upcoming season, the school announced.
“He tried to block a dunk and just came down awkward,” coach Bob Huggins told MetroNews “Sportsline” on Monday. “I feel bad for him because he has worked really hard. Quite frankly, he was more ready to play than we anticipated he would be.”
A three-star recruit from Covington, Ky., Bolden was projected to play a backup role for West Virginia this season. The skinny left-hander looked impressive during a three-game exhibition tour of the Bahamas in August.
Along with averaging 10.7 points, Bolden compiled 10 steals and eight assists as the Mountaineers cruised to three blowouts. Huggins was particularly praising of Bolden’s decision-making in transition.
“It’s hard to say how many minutes he would’ve played,” Huggins said. “He would’ve had the opportunity to earn all that he could stand. He had been our most consistent perimeter shooter in the preseason.”
For now the point guard position appears to be the shared domain of junior Tarik Phillip and sophomore Jevon Carter. WVU is still awaiting eligibility clearance on junior college transfer Teyvon Myers, who like Carter, is a combo guard.
Phillip is a dogged on-the-ball defender who struggled with perimeter shooting and turnovers last year.
“We’ve still got some people,” Huggins said. “Tarik’s had some days when he played extemely well. J.C.’s had some days when he shot the ball extremely well. Dax (Miles) has had his moments. We’ve got enough people we can fool around and experiment with that.”
“Obviously, our thoughts are with Beetle as he prepares for surgery and begins the rehabilitation process. Beetle’s a great kid, and I know he will put the time in with Doc (coordinator of athletic training services Randy Meador) and come back stronger and hungrier than ever.”
If there’s a silver lining to a season-ending injury, it’s that Bolden was a bit on the frail side and will at least now have a year of strength-building to prepare him for the 2016-17 season.
The NCAA allows coaches to stage full-team practices for two hours per week currently. Full preseason practices officially begin Oct. 2 and West Virginia hosts an exhibition game against Glenville State on Nov. 6.
Northern Kentucky visits for the regular-season opener Nov. 13.