During the 2020-21 West Virginia basketball season, senior forward Gabe Osabuohien has not petrified teams with his offensive ability, but he has done it with his defensive prowess.
Osabuohien — a Toronto, Ontario, Canada, native — has been polarizing on the defensive end for the Mountaineers and has brought a defensive effort that has characterized head coach Bob Huggins’ teams in the past.
For the year, Osabuohien averages just 1.6 points per game in 18 minutes of action per game. Osabuohien’s advantage is in the defensive categories with 4.3 rebounds per game, 32 steals for the season and 10 total blocks.
Against Kansas State on Feb. 27, Osabuohien didn’t score a point against the Wildcats, but his impact cannot go unnoticed with seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and three steals.
“He’s terrific, particularly when we switch defenses and we try to gap everything a little bit more,” Huggins said following the KSU game. “He stops penetration from all directions.”
Prior to his move to Morgantown before last season, Osabuohien spent two seasons in Fayetteville, Arkansas, at the University of Arkansas.
With the Razorbacks, Osabuohien appeared in 54 games and averaged 2.4 points per game, 2.5 rebounds and one steal per game. The most impactful stats that Osabuohien has tallied at WVU and Arkansas aren’t normally shown on stat sheets.
In two years at Arkansas, Osabuohien had 105 deflections and took 24 charges. For West Virginia last season, Osabuohien recorded 148 deflections and had 23 charges taken.
Osabuohien’s role has never been one of a scorer. His job when he is on the floor is to make as many defensive plays as possible for West Virginia in critical times against opponents.
In 24 appearances this season, Osabuohien has finished with zero points 14 times. Osabuohien’s season-high came against Gonzaga on Dec. 2 when he scored 10 points. His performance against the Bulldogs is the only time this season that he has scored in double-digits.
Over the past four games, Osabuohien has been playing his best basketball while not scoring. Osabuohien is averaging five rebounds, 2.5 steals, one block, 2.3 assists and 0.8 points over the last four games for the Mountaineers. In that span, Osabuohien has finished with a total of three points, which all came against Texas on Feb. 20.
Osabuohien contributes to a WVU team that has tremendous depth on its roster. Huggins sees that has a major benefit when he can look to his bench for support.
“We have at least eight starters too,” Huggins said. “When you bring Taz Sherman off the bench and Gabe (Osabuohien) off the bench, that’s pretty good.”