The West Virginia Mountaineers have looked to many different players to contribute to their lethal scoring attack this season, and one constant has been junior guard Sean McNeil.
In 21 appearances, McNeil is averaging 11.8 points per game while shooting 40% from three-point range. His season totals are eye-opening, and his last few appearances have given a tremendous boost to his season numbers and the Mountaineers.
Prior to a seven-point outing against TCU on Tuesday night, McNeil had scored at least 15 points in the past three games. This includes a career-high 26 points — 5-of-7 from three-point range — against then-No. 7 Texas Tech on Feb. 9.
“That was one of the things that I’ve focused on over the last couple of games is just letting the game come to me,” McNeil said following his performance against Texas Tech. “We’re trying to stay away from letting the ball stick in guy’s hands, so I just wanted to get the ball moving early tonight. I had a couple open looks, I knocked them down early and just got into a flow from there.”
McNeil has clearly let the game come to him over his past performances. In a span of three electrifying games, McNeil averaged 34 minutes per game, 17.6 points per game and shot 13-of-22 (59%) from behind the arc.
McNeil started the first 13 games of the year for WVU but was benched in early January due to a scoring surge from Taz Sherman. McNeil spent five games on the bench before he was a late addition to the starting lineup against Texas Tech — Sherman was benched due to injury — when he scored his career high in points.
Against TCU, McNeil struggled to score despite playing 29 minutes. Sherman stepped in and scored 23 points off the bench. West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins believes the scoring depth of the Mountaineers is one of their main benefits.
“I think that’s the beauty of this team, we rely on Sean at times and then when he struggles, we rely on Taz,” Huggins said following the win against TCU.
McNeil has been a crucial part of a West Virginia team that is trending upward as March and the NCAA Tournament approaches. In his first year in Morgantown, McNeil averaged 15 minutes per game while only scoring six points per game. McNeil finished the 2019-20 season shooting 37% from the field and 33% from three-point range.
For now, McNeil and the Mountaineers are enjoying the moment during a memorable season in Morgantown.
“I’m not sure how the rest of this season is going to play out, but that’s kind of how this whole year is going,” McNeil said. “You can’t look ahead; you just have to enjoy the moment and play in the present. We’re making a little bit of run here, we’re hitting strides when it’s best here in February. Just the way that we’re playing right now is unique.”