As D White posted last week, Huggins said he would fix it and he has. If the 2013-2014 season was a spirited step in the right direction, then the addition of four new players to the 2014-2015 team could signal the arrival at the destination. Huggins will be able to use the incoming players to add depth and address the most pressing needs facing the Mountaineers.
Of those four players two are already in Morgantown, with the other two joining in the fall. Those players are power forward Jonathan Holton a Junior College transfer from Palm Beach Community College by way of the University of Rhode Island, Elijah Macon a power forward from Columbus, Ohio, Jevon Carter a shooting guard from Illinois and Daxter Miles a point guard from Baltimore, Maryland.
Let's begin by talking about Holton and Macon, the two players already in Morgantown. As WVU fans are no doubt aware, the Mountaineers were hoping to get Holton to play this year but in early January the NCAA denied his waiver request to play. When asked about Holton current WVU point guard Juwan Staten responded:
"He's a great player, he's active, he has a motor like no player I've ever been around and he's able to do a lot of things."
WVU shooting guard Eron Harris added:
"He's going to bring 10 times more energy to the team, he's going to bring rebounding, he's going to bring scoring, he's going to bring shooting,"
The high praise from WVU's two leading scorers seem to indicate that the 6'7" Holton could be part of the answer to WVU's low post inconsistency, the other part of that answer could be 6'9" Elijah Macon.
Macon's path to WVU has been well documented. Coming out of high school in 2012 ESPN had Macon rated as the 45th best player in its ESPN100 rankings of high school seniors. Macon committed to WVU over offers from Cincinnati, USC and Iowa. However, Macon failed to qualify and de-committed. Following his de-commitment Macon got his academics in order and recommitted to WVU. He joined the team before the 2013 season, but an injury and an adverse ruling by the NCAA kept Macon from playing this year. ESPN described Macon as follows:
"He secures rebounds above traffic, blocks a fair amount of shots, and has a high defensive upside thanks to his size, length, and mobility."
Added rebounding and defense are no doubt key components to improving WVU's post play and Macon brings both to the fold.
The addition of Holton and Macon will allow WVU to play current Mountaineers Remi Dibo and Nathan Adrian, respectively, at either power or small forward depending on matchups. At small forward Dibo and Adrian provide the length to bother smaller forwards with Adrian in particular showing a penchant for getting his hands on the ball on defense. If played at power forward Dibo (40.2% 3P%) and Adrian (36.5% 3P%) can function as stretch power forwards whose ability to draw defenders away from the paint will open up the lane for the other Mountaineers.
Inexperience and lack of depth in WVU's front-court kept the Mountaineers from rising to the top of the Big 12 in 2013. With Holton and Macon joining Devin Williams (who at the time of this writing has accumulated eight double doubles) Brandon Watkins, Nathan Adrian, Remi Dibo and Kevin Noreen in the front-court WVU will have the pieces of the puzzle it was missing in 2013.
Holton and Macon will be joined in Morgantown by a pair of guards in Carter and Miles. Carter and Miles are both combo guards who can run point creating for others or creating for themselves. They will join a back-court that includes Staten (18.4 ppg, 5.9 apg and 5.9 rpg), Harris (17.9 ppg), Terry Henderson (11.8 ppg) and Gary Browne (6.1 ppg). The added depth will allow Staten, who has played a mind boggling 1,165 minutes through the time of this writing, more time to rest allowing him to keep defenses on their heels with his ridiculous first step and his mid range pull up jumper. Harris (42.8% 3P%) and Henderson (36.8% 3P%) will continue to bomb away from behind the three point line and provide athletic guard play on the wings with Browne, Carter and Miles adding the depth needed to navigate a long season.
WVU's current crop of guards should allow the incoming true freshman to be brought along slowly giving Carter and Miles the luxury of learning behind two of the Big 12's best guards while not being depended on for major minutes. If however, the freshman guards can develop to the point where WVU can get a solid 5-10 minutes a game from both Carter and Miles they will have significant depth in the back-court and a deep rotation overall.
In 2013-2014 WVU was unable to separate itself from the middle of the pack of the Big 12 because of lack of depth, inexperience and inconsistent front-court play. All three of these issues are addressed with the 2014 class. A bubble team during the middle of the 2013-2014 season, WVU's 2014 additions should propel WVU into a deep NCAA tournament run in the 2014-2015 season.