Column - Huggins recruits will succeed next year
Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012 00:03
It was a rough ending for the West Virginia men’s basketball team when it lost to Gonzaga last week.
A rout in nearby Pittsburgh was bad enough, but it was also a horrible way to send out seniors Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant.
The duo, along with former Mountaineer Devin Ebanks, are the three most successful basketball recruits West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins has had at WVU.
And now that all three have moved on, next year will show Huggins’ real recruiting skill.
The trio of Jones, Bryant and Ebanks combined for 4,187 points, 1,914 rebounds and 30.6 minutes per game.
As for the other 13 players Huggins has recruited in his time at West Virginia? Just 2,237 points, 1,087 rebounds and only 13.2 minutes per game.
Huggins’ recruits will have to play well next year, though, if the Mountaineers are to be successful.
Point guards Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne will, without a doubt, be looked at to step up next year.
At times this past season, both Browne and Hinds scored points and became a "go-to" threat when Bryant and Jones were off.
Hinds was Huggins’ top recruit from the 2011 class, and it showed.
But will he show up when he’s in the spotlight without two senior leaders?
Freshman Keaton Miles, who struggled this season playing just 13.1 minutes per game and averaging less than two points and two rebounds, was another one of Huggins’ prized recruits. But Huggins sees potential in Miles – he started 30 of West Virginia’s 32 games.
Pat Forsythe sat out much of the season with a back injury, but he could provide some inside depth next season to back up soon-to-be-senior Deniz Kilicli.
Three talented players will arrive in Morgantown next season.
Huggins’ best recruit, Elijah Macon, is ranked No. 42 in the country by ESPNU. The 6-foot-8 power forward from Columbus, Ohio plays at Huntington Prep.
Huntington Prep head coach Rob Fulford said that Macon is a mix between Jones and Kilicli.
Macon has the biggest chance to be an instant contributor next year.
Terry Henderson is another recruit who could make an impact next season. Henderson, who also received offers from Virginia Tech, Maryland, Miami and Boston College, could be just the shooter that West Virginia needs after the loss of Bryant.
The third recruit committed to the Mountaineers for next year is Eron Harris. Harris’ only other offer from a major program was Dayton, but he attended Lawrence North High School – the same school NBA lottery pick Greg Oden attended.
There have also been reports that Huggins has been recruiting a player named Marc McLaughlin. He was a top- 100 player coming out of high school, but took the community college route after just one semester at Baylor.
Add those players with the addition of transfer players Juwan Staten and Aaric Murray who had to sit out last year in compliance with NCAA rules, and it could be a special year.
But if the recruits fizz out like they have in years past, it could be another tough season.