Unfortunately most will remember West Virginia‘s 2014-15 season as one that ended with an embarrassing thud after the Mountaineers got eviscerated by Kentucky in the Sweet 16. The backlash was especially painful after freshman Daxter Miles predicted a WVU win a day earlier.
They were the deepest team in the Big 12, with 10 players averaging 10 minutes per game and despite losing Gary Browne and game-changing point guard Juwan Staten, Bob Huggins’ team shouldn’t look much different as they compete for the conference title this year. The longtime coach’s suffocating press defense will be back, as will do-it-all junior forward Jonathan Holton, but they must improve upon a putrid shooting stroke (41 percent).
BR-19 West Virginia
Head Coach: Bob Huggins
2014-15 Finish: 25-10 (Lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament)
2014-15 Conference Finish: 11-7 (Fourth Place in the Big 12 Conference)
Projected 2015-16 Conference Finish: Fifth
*F – Devin Williams – Junior
*F – Jonathan Holton – Senior
*G – Daxter Miles, Jr. – Sophomore
G – Jevon Carter – Sophomore
F – Nathan Adrian – Junior
G – Jaysean Paige – Senior
Esa Ahmad might be the most underrated incoming freshman in the Big 12. The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder from Shaker Heights, Ohio was a four-star Top 100 recruit and will immediately add a new dimension (and efficiency) to the Mountaineers’ offense, one that sneakily averaged 72.6 points per game last season.
Despite a different skill set than returners Adrian, Holton, Williams and others, he will still compete with those veterans for minutes, thus semi-limiting his impact in 2015-16. However, he will still see plenty of action and will be fun to watch come midseason.