MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bob Huggins likes what West Virginia has coming back next year — so much so that he won’t fill the final scholarship spot on his roster unless the perfect candidate comes along.
“It’s kind of like fishing. You catch a really good crappie or largemouth or smallmouth or walleye, you keep him. If you the ones you catch aren’t good, you throw them out,” Huggins said. “We have the opportunity to select, I think for the first time in a very long time. We can kind of sit here and look at who’s available and see if they fit.
“I don’t want to bring somebody who doesn’t work with our guys, because we’ve got a great group right now.”
As he stated Monday, he expects Oscar Tshiebwe to be part of that mix after Tshiebwe goes through the NBA Draft process. The Mountaineers had only three seniors leaving from a team that finished the season ranked 23rd in the country, and only two of those players saw significant minutes.
Huggins and the coaching staff already have their replacements in place — point guard Kedrian Johnson and forwards Taj Thweatt and Isaiah Cottrell. And in essence, West Virginia will be adding a player to its rotation with Fairmont’s Jalen Bridges entering the mix after redshirting as a freshman.
Nonetheless, one of West Virginia’s allotted 13 scholarships remains open after guard Brandon Knapper transferred to Eastern Kentucky. But it’s not as if Huggins is in a “use it or lose it” scenario.
“I’m not concerned about it, because if we don’t [fill it], we don’t. We’re not going to be able to play 13 guys anyway, let’s be honest,” Huggins said. “In a lot of ways, it makes our decision a little easier. Obviously, if something kind of falls in our lap — I just want to make 100 percent sure that they fit in.
“They have a great chemistry right now. They love being around each other. I don’t know if we could have a better situation that what we have right now.”
It’s far from unprecedented for West Virginia to be in this situation. When the Mountaineers ended up with an extra scholarship available last year, Huggins gave it to three-year walk-on Logan Routt.