Derek Culver is going pro: How an odd saga unfolded and what’s next for WVU

Gold and Blue Nation

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Would he stay or would he go?

That was the question Mountaineer nation was dying to have answered after a tweet indicating that Derek Culver had signed with an agency popped up Monday afternoon.

Fans did finally get an answer, likely while they slept — and hours after an Instagram denial from the All-Big 12 forward himself.

Here’s a timeline of what happened Monday:

12:22 p.m. — ASM announcement

New York-based Athletes Sports Management tweeted that Culver was part of a trio of college athletes who had recently signed with the agency:

The brand tagged three accounts in the tweet: one belonging to Duke’s DJ Steward, another belonging to North Carolina State’s DJ Funderburk, and a third account belonging to a person named Derek Culver — but not the WVU star of the same name. 

4:08 p.m. — A denial 

Culver, who is most active on Instagram, posted text to his Instagram story, which read in all caps: “I have not declared to leave school bruh false news.” 

Fellow WVU forward Gabe Osabuohien also tweeted that the news of Culver’s departure from WVU was “not true,” but it appears that tweet has since been deleted. 

4:24 p.m. — Report on Culver’s status

Mike Casazza of 247sports.com reported that Cervando Tejeda, the president of Athletes Sports Management, confirmed that Culver had signed with the agency, and therefore would no longer be eligible to play college basketball. 

Sometime after 10 p.m. — Another statement from Culver

The Mountaineer forward again posted text to his Instagram story in an effort to clear the air on his previous statement and the situation as a whole. 

“I have taken stock of my college experience and am now undergoing the difficult decision to plan my future,” Culver said. “I have elected to forgo my senior year and currently explore my professional options, which was a difficult decision that I did not take lightly.”

Culver added that it felt “unfair” that his fans learned of his decision from “other sources,” rather than directly from him. 

“Now I would like to state on my terms that I am officially declaring for the NBA Draft and have signed with Athletes Sports Management,” Culver said. “I want to take this time to thank my family, teammates, and coaches for all the years of support. I am looking forward to this next chapter.” 

So what’s next for WVU?

Culver leaving WVU to pursue pro basketball has always been a likely outcome — maybe the most likely outcomeof the offseason. That possibility has clearly been front of mind for Bob Huggins and his staff.

The Mountaineers have added two forwards to the roster this month via the transfer portal: FIU’s Dimon Carrigan, a top-20 shot blocker last season, and DePaul’s Pauly Paulicap, one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in the Big East. 

In a statement introducing Paulicap, Huggins noted that adding rim protectors to the roster will allow WVU to play a different style of defense — one that fans have become accustomed to in recent years, but has been notably absent from the program since the departures of Jevon Carter, Sagaba Konate and others.

“We are really excited about signing the two big men that we did,” Huggins said. “We struggled to protect the rim a year ago, one of a few weaknesses that we had. These two guys give us the opportunity to fix that problem in a big way.” 

Forward Gabe Osabuohien has also opted to return for another season at WVU, using the free year of eligibility granted to all Division I athletes as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, three other Mountaineers — guards Miles McBride, Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil — have each declared for the NBA Draft while maintaining an option to return for another season. It’s unlikely that we’ll receive another update on any of these athletes until after the NBA Draft Combine, which takes place June 21-27.

Huggins also added Malik Curry, a transfer guard from Old Dominion, to bolster the roster in light of the pursuits of these athletes.

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