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HCS Op-Ed: WVU Hoops with High Hopes

As the football season gets into Conference play, it’s hard to ignore that basketball season is right around the corner. The West Virginia Men’s Basketball team will tipped off the 2014-2015 season with the Gold-Blue Debut this past Friday at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va.

A 40-minute officiated scrimmage between the gold team and the blue team will take place, as well as an introduction to the players and staff.

As a West Virginia student, and Mountaineer fan, it pains me to admit the struggles for the men’s basketball season during their first stint in the Big 12. Coach Bob Huggins and his squad won just six conference games and 13 games total. The team ended the season with a seven game losing streak.

Going into the 2013-2014 season, the Mountaineers roster was young and inexperienced, but had a lot of upside. They finished the season 17-16 while beating highly ranked teams, #11 Iowa State 104-77, #21 Oklahoma in overtime 91-86, and the most impressive, a 92-86 win over #8 Kansas.

When Juwan Staten wasn’t dominating the court, sophomore Eron Harris was averaging 17.2 points per game. Fellow sophomore Terry Henderson was averaging in the double digits as well, at 11.7 points per game. Remi Dibo averaged 7.3 points per game, and while that might sound like a lot, he came up big from beyond the perimeter in crucial games.

Mountaineers fans (particularly me) were crushed to find out that Terry Henderson, Eron Harris and Remi Dibo’s would transfer at season’s end. The West Virginia’s men’s basketball team has been plagued with attrition issues almost every season, and it’s starting to get very frustrating.

Eron Harris will spend his last two years at Michigan State, Terry Henderson is now at NC State, and Remi Dibo went back to France to pursue a professional career.

Despite these crucial losses, Coach Huggins signed four new players for the upcoming season. Jonathon Holton is a power forward who transferred from Palm Beach Community College. Another power forward, Elijah Macon, joins the squad by way of Colombus, Ohio. The two guards are Jevon Carter out of Illinois, and Baltimore’s Daxter Miles.

So who should we be watching for, not just as mountaineer fans, but Big 12 basketball fans?  Juwan Staten. But, why?

Staten led the Big 12 in scoring last year with 18.1 points per game. Additionally, he was named Big 12 pre-season player of the year and is a projected lottery pick in next spring’s NBA draft.

Staten’s accolades are being recognized nationwide, as he was invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada this past summer. The event ran from July 9-12 attendees included the top 30 collegiate and the top 80 high school players from around the country.

Staten became the first player in WVU school history to score 500 points. But, his game isn’t all about scoring. He dishes out assists, grabs steals, and is an underrated rebounder.

Despite the youth, the upcoming season is looking quite promising for the Mountaineers. Big strides were made from season one to season two in the Big 12. If West Virginia can improve at the same pace, then 2014-15 can be an exciting winter in Morgantown. Let’s hope for the best!

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