MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With the advent of the transfer portal and new NCAA rules regarding one-time transfers, roster management is the name of the game in college sports.
It’s just another challenge that head coach Bob Huggins has had to handle. The winner of 900 career contests has coached through countless rule changes in his career, but he calls this new era in college hoops a “two-way street.”
The way he sees it, transfers can both help and hurt the Mountaineers. This season, he hopes it’s the former, even though there has been a lot of turnover on his roster.
“Yeah, we lose some guys,” Huggins said. “Hopefully we can get some guys in the portal who can come back and fill that or maybe do more.”
Six players from the 2020-21 squad that reached the NCAA Tournament are no longer on the roster.
Two former Mountaineers — Miles McBride and Derek Culver — entered the NBA Draft and hope to hear their names called Thursday night. McBride is in position to become the first WVU player selected in the first round since 2008.
Another pair of scholarship players in Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Jordan McCabe transferred out of Huggins program, and former walk-ons Spencer Macke and Jay Moore are no longer on the roster.
But while those players have departed from the team, Huggins is bringing in a group of seven newcomers. Four of those players are true freshman who signed with Mountaineers the “traditional” way as high school athletes, but Huggins has also added three more fifth-year players via the transfer portal.
Each of those athletes — guard Malik Curry and forwards Dimon Carrigan and Pauly Palicap — is expected to make an impact for West Virginia this season, and make an imprint on a change in identity that Huggins alluded to during a recent press conference.
Five WVU players will compete as “fifth year” athletes this season, meaning they’re taking advantage of the NCAA’s pandemic eligibility waiver. All five of them are transfers: Curry, Carrigan, Paulicap, forward Gabe Osabuohien and guard Taz Sherman. Both Osabuohien and Sherman are entering their third seasons with the program.
Also, while McBride and Culver are turning pro, both Sherman and fellow guard Sean McNeil return to WVU after withdrawing from the draft pool. The two sharpshooters serve as West Virginia’s top returning scorers. Sherman averaged 13.4 points per game last season, while McNeil averaged 12.2 points per game.