What the WVU hoops roster could look like next season

Gold and Blue Nation

The NCAA’s eligibility relief decision leaves the door open for a unique opportunity to keep most of the squad intact

Courtesy: Dale Sparks

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Within hours of the loss to Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament, the announcements and speculation began. 

What will the WVU hoops roster look like next season for head coach Bob Huggins? Who is leaving the program, and who will be back for another season? 

Roughly one week after the final game of the 2020-21 campaign, some answers have become clear, but the roster for next season likely won’t be solidified for several more weeks. 

Here’s a closer look at the players who are on their way out, those who appear to be on the fence and those who are likely a lock to return next season. 

Departures

Jordan McCabe (Jr./G): The Wisconsin native became the first member of the 2020-21 roster to enter the NCAA transfer portal. McCabe’s role decreased substantially last season, a he logged just five starts and 10.9 minutes per game. He also averaged just 2.2 points per game while recording 39 assists and 25 turnovers. 

Emmitt Matthews Jr. (Jr./F): Shortly after McCabe’s announcement, Matthews followed suit and entered the transfer portal. The forward made 25 starts last season while averaging 7.7 points per game. Both Matthews and McCabe were key components of Huggins’ 2018 recruiting class. 

Question Marks

Sean McNeil (Jr./G): West Virginia’s season leader in 3-pointers recently announced that he will enter the 2021 NBA Draft, while still maintaining the option to return for another season. McNeil averaged 12.2 points per game, good for fourth on the roster, and connected on 38.8 percent of his 3-point tries. 

Taz Sherman (Sr./G): Like McNeil, Sherman will also pursue the NBA Draft, but will maintain collegiate eligibility through a unique rule: as a senior, he still has the option to return for one more season thanks to the NCAA’s pandemic eligibility ruling. Sherman ranked No. 15 in the Big 12 in scoring with 13.4 points per game. Only Miles McBride and Derek Culver scored more for the Mountaineers. 

Gabe Osabuohien (Sr./F): The Arkansas transfer was arguably West Virginia’s most influential defensive player in his second season in Morgantown. He finished second on the roster in steals with 41, helping him earn a spot on the Big 12 Conference’s all-defensive team. Like Sherman, he could utilize a free year of eligibility to play at WVU next season, but has not publicly stated his intentions yet. 

Veterans

Derek Culver (Jr./F): The lone forward to earn All-Big 12 First Team honors in 2021, Culver led WVU in rebounding (9.4 rpg) and finished second on the team in scoring (14.3 ppg). But while he hasn’t made a public announcement yet, it wouldn’t be shocking if Culver follows the lead of a few of his teammates and seeks an NBA Draft evaluation. Last offseason, former Mountaineer Oscar Tshiebwe received a draft evaluation before returning to WVU and then ultimately transferring. In recent seasons, other stars likes Jevon Carter, Sagaba Konate and Esa Ahmad have all done the same — sought a draft evaluation before returning to Morgantown for another season. 

Miles McBride (So./G): West Virginia’s leading scorer in 2020-21 averaged 15.9 points per game as he took on a larger role in his second year with the program. In light of the departures that are already known — and the others that could still come via the draft — it’s likely that McBride will be asked to take on an even bigger role in his junior campaign. 

Kedrian Johnson (Jr./G): The junior college transfer played key minutes for the Mountaineer off the bench, averaging 7.4 minutes and 1.3 points per game. 

Young talent

Jalen Bridges (r-Fr./F): After Tshiebwe’s departure, Bridges became a staple of the WVU starting lineup, making 19 starts and averaging 18.1 minutes per game and 5.9 points per game. Matthews’ departure likely will lead to another increase in responsibility for Bridges next season. 

Isaiah Cottrell (Fr./F): An exciting freshman season for Cottrell was cut short in December due to a season-ending achilles injury. Cottrell appeared in 10 games and scored 16 points, but has the skill and versatility to be a bigger contributor when he makes his return to the lineup. 

Seny Ndiaye (Fr./F): Instead of redshirting as many true freshmen do, Ndiaye appeared in 14 games in what was essentially a free year. If the 6-10 forward from Dakar, Senegal, can have a productive offseason, he’ll likely see an increase in minutes next season. 

Taj Thweatt (Fr./F): Similarly to Ndiaye, Thweatt appeared in nine games as a true freshman, averaging 2.6 minutes per contest. 

Walk-ons

Spencer Macke (So./G): Who doesn’t love Macke Minutes? While the walk-on didn’t score a point in his sophomore campaign, he remains a fan favorite. 

Jay Moore (Fr./G) — The West Virginia native and product of Greater Beckley Christian School appeared in three games, logging his first points as a Mountaineer in a win over K-State in February. 

Incoming recruits

Seth Wilson (G): The class of 2021 signee averaged 13 points per game as a junior at Lorain High in Ohio. Before that, he played for St. Vincent-St. Mary High in Akron, the same school that produced LeBron James. During his freshman season, Wilson scored the second-most points by a freshman in school history, behind only James. 

Kobe Johnson (G): A combo guard from Canton, Ohio, Johnson led his high school to a district title in 2020 and was an All-Ohio First Team honoree. He has a wingspan of nearly seven feet. 

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