Huggins on possibility of backups transferring: ‘Why not leave?’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — If not for some of West Virginia’s student managers approaching graduation, West Virginia’s would have no guests of honor on Senior Night.

But a roster with 11 scholarship underclassmen won’t return intact next season.

In addressing the future of the program Tuesday, coach Bob Huggins said it was fair to believe that his team next season will have a different look than what takes the floor against Iowa State on Wednesday night.

“Obviously, it’s going to be different,” Huggins said.

The dismissals of Esa Ahmad and Wes Harris in January created two scholarship openings for next season, openings that will be filled by incoming recruits Oscar Tshiebwe and Miles McBride.

The Mountaineers are still recruiting several junior-college prospects, as well as other high school recruits to come in next season.

How many of those recruits sign with West Virginia will help determine how many current players are outgoing. The next signing period for college basketball begins April 15.

“Tell me the last time we had 13 guys and they all stayed,” Huggins said. “The chances are pretty good that if you’re playing behind somebody now, then you’re probably going to play behind them next year. In today’s world of instant gratification, why not leave? Particularly if you’re going to graduate and we’ve got a bunch of them going to graduate.”

Redshirt juniors set to graduate in May are Beetle Bolden, Chase Harler and Lamont West.

Huggins didn’t comment on the future of those scholarship players, or on any of his underclassmen who may look to transfer.

When asked what he’s looking for on the recruiting trail, Huggins said: “We need toughness. We need a guy who is going to lock somebody down and not going to take alot of crap. This is the softest team I’ve ever been around.”

As for the immediate future, West Virginia’s NCAA chances hinge on winning the Big 12 tournament, though Huggins indicated the program may take a look at the pay-to-play CBI tournament.

“There’s pluses and minuses,” he said. “I think the pluses are all the young guys I have will get a lot more practice. The negative side is attitudes and worrying about all of that stuff. To a degree, you want it to be a positive experience. You’d like to end the season on a good note.”

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