Big 12 Basketball

Big 12 Portal Thoughts: West Virginia Men Rebuild With Transfers

Mar 21, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Drake Bulldogs head coach Darian DeVries reacts in the first half against the Washington State Cougars in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at CHI Health Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

It was not an optimum season at West Virginia and it started this time last year when former coach Bob Huggins used anti-gay slurs during a Cincinnati radio show.

Shortly after, he was arrested for DUI in Pittsburgh and was out of the program. One of his assistants, Josh Eilert, took over on an interim basis. But the season was snake-bit from the start, thanks to several players missing time due to suspensions, transfer waiver issues and injuries.


The Mountaineers ended with nine wins, let Eilert walk after their Big 12 Tournament loss and hired Darian DeVries away from Drake.

It will be up to him to resurrect West Virginia basketball.

In this edition of Portal Thoughts we take a look at where West Virginia is now and what’s left to do this offseason.

West Virginia’s Losses (4)

The Mountaineers knew four players were going to run out of eligibility after the season, based on what they pulled out of the transfer portal the previous offseason.

Foremost was center Jesse Edwards, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. He is going through the NBA Draft process now. Same goes for guard RaeQuan Battle, who played in 22 games and led WVU with 16.1 points per game. His lasting legacy may be freeing the transfer portal process for all through a court case last season.

Forward Quinn Slazinski is also out the door due to eligibility after finishing as WVU’s third-leading scorer with 12.3 points.

Finally, center Akok Akok, who missed part of the season due to health issues, is out of eligibility after he averaged three points per game.

West Virginia’s Transfer Losses (8)

This is what happens when you have the kind of head-coaching turnover WVU had — players leave. Eight in all fled the program after the change from Eilert to DeVries.


Some have found a home. Guard Kerr Kriisa, who averaged 11 points last season, is now at Kentucky with first-year coach Mark Pope. Two other guards, Josiah Harris and Kobe Johnson, are now at Akron and Saint Louis, respectively. They combined to average 11 points last season. Another guard, Seth Wilson, also landed at Akron.

Forward Patrick Suemnick, who averaged 4.1 points, moved on to DePaul.  

Three other WVU players are in the portal and have not found a landing spot, including guard Jeremiah Bembry, guard Noah Farrakhan and center Ali Ragab.

West Virginia’s Transfer Gains (7)

In this age, with a new head coach, one has to build a roster any way possible. For now, DeVries has leaned heavily into the transfer portal.

Most notable among them is wing Tucker DeVries, who is the son of the head coach. He played for his dad at Drake for three seasons, and in 2023-24 he was the only NCAA Division I men’s basketball player to average at least 20.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He was also the Larry Bird Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year for two straight season.

WVU snagged a pair of former Illinois players — forward Amani Hansberry and guard Sencire Harris. Hansberry averaged 2.4 points as a freshman last season, while Harris sat out last season after he averaged 3.7 points in 2022-23 as a true freshman.

Guard Toby Okani will have one year to play at WVU after two seasons at Duquesne and two more at UIC. Last season with the Flames he averaged 11.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and was selected to the MVC All-Defensive Team.

Center Eduardo Andre is another fifth-year player who averaged 7.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game for Fresno State before an injury ended his season.

Two transfers aren’t on the 2024-25 roster yet but have reportedly committed. Former Oklahoma State guard Javon Small averaged 15.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and one steal per game last season. Washington State guard Joseph Yesufu, who at one point was at Kansas, averaged 6.2 points last season for the Cougars. At one point he played for DeVries at Drake.


West Virginia’s Recruiting Gains (2)

DeVries and his staff were able to bring in two true freshman for the 2024-25 season.

Guard Jonathan Powell was the Division I Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year in 2023-24 after he averaged 19.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game last season for Centerville (OH) last season.

Guard KJ Tenner was named Mr. Basketball in Class 4A in the state of Tennessee after he averaged 21 points per game for Cordova High School in Memphis, Tenn.

Set to Return (2)

The Mountaineers have two returning players. One is forward Ofri Naveh, who was part of last year’s recruiting class and played in 24 games, averaging 2.6 points in 13.8 minutes.

Guard Aden Tagaloa-Nelson played in two games as a freshman.

It’s a thin group of returning players. But, in the portal era with a coaching change, it’s about what a program that won nine games last season can expect.

What’s Left?

The Mountaineers have two scholarships left to play with. With the lack of continuity and a new coaching staff, it seems more likely they’ll seek players that can impact the program now but have multiple seasons of eligibility.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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