WVU Basketball: Five Reasons Why The Departure Of Eron Harris Won’t Matter

Expect Coach Huggins to smile more next season. - Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The third winningest active coach in NCAA history understood what he was doing on Monday. Coach Huggins is not worried…so neither should you.

Mountaineer Nation hit the panic button last Monday when Coach Huggins announced that starting guard Eron Harris would be released from the program. Since that announcement, we have endured listening to and reading about how Coach Huggins has lost control of his program...how 11 of 16 recruits have left WVU over the last three years...how these 11 could beat the current squad, etc., etc.

Folks, Bob Huggins knows what he is doing.

The third winningest active coach in NCAA history understood what he was doing on Monday.

Coach Huggins is not worried...so neither should you.

You see, Huggins and his staff believe that they will be able to overcome the loss of Eron Harris.

Here's what the sophomore shooting guard gave the Mountaineers in 2013-14:

Games/Start

Avg Minutes

FG%

3pt FG%

FT%

Reb/game

Turnovers/game

Points/game

33/32

31

44%

42%

86%

3.5

2

17

Harris was first in three point and free throw percentages and second in scoring. However, he was also second in turnovers, despite playing six less minutes than Juwan Staten. And we all know that Harris was inconsistent at best on defense.

The future of WVU men's basketball is bright - despite the loss of Harris.

There are five reasons why the Mountaineer men will be much improved in 2014-2015.

First, the Mountaineers are going to become a much more front court oriented offensive team. This has not been true over the last four years. WVU's offense has gradually become dominated by guard play since the 2009-2010 Final Four season.

Here are the numbers over the last five seasons:

Year

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

Points/game

72.4

69.8

71.1

66.1

77.2

Guard points/game

21.0

39.4

36.1

44.3

54.5

Percentage

29.0%

56.4%

50.8%

67.0%

70.6%

In WVU's Final Four run, forwards Da'Sean Butler, Kevin Jones, and Devin Ebanks led the team in scoring. Wellington Smith was fifth, while Deniz Kilicli and John Flowers were seventh and eighth.

Compare that to this season. Forwards Devin Williams and Remi Dibo were fourth and fifth. Nathan Adrian was seventh, while Brandon Watkins and Kevin Noreen were a distant eighth and ninth.

Expect WVU's big men to contribute a much higher percentage of total points next year.

Second, and closely related to the first point, WVU gains the services of forward Jonathan Holton. He should make an immediate impact.

Here are Holton's stats as a freshman at Rhode Island:

Games/Start

Avg Minutes

FG%

3pt FG%

FT%

Reb/game

Turnovers/game

Points/game

31/26

29

41%

19%

68%

8.1

2

10

Holton earned eight double-doubles at Rhode Island. He improved his three point shooting percentage to 40% as a sophomore at Palm Beach Community College.

Huggins knows that he is really losing only seven points per game by trading Holton for Harris. WVU should gain 4.5 rebounds per game in Holton, along with a much needed defensive interior presence.

Third, the current roster should improve. Youth needs experience to develop, and the Mountaineers picked up a ton of it this season. Expect Terry Henderson to move into Harris' vacated shooting guard position. More minutes means more production with the added bonus that Henderson is a better defender. Additionally, WVU should see improved production from Devin Williams, Remi Dibo, and Nathan Adrian. Even a one point per game and one rebound per game increase would make this squad better than it has been since 2010-11. Coach Huggins adds two guards to the roster in Rivals three star/Scouts four star point guard Daxter Miles and Rivals three star shooting guard Jevon Carter. Miles and Carter are 6-3 and 6-2, 180 pounders who could add three to five points per game as backups to Staten and Henderson. Finally, the addition of 6-9 forward Elijah Macon should add rebounding, increased length and rim protection to greatly bolster an anemic defense.

Fourth, Huggins and his staff are actively recruiting another shooting guard to replace Eron Harris. WVSports.com is reporting that the staff has reached out to guards Kevin Punter and TJ Dunans. Punter averaged 20 points per game in 32 contests last season at Missouri State Fair Community College. Dunans averaged 23 points per game in 32 contests while playing at Columbia (Tn) State Community College. Coach Huggins and staff will find another Casey Mitchell type scorer to replace Eron Harris.

Finally, I am making the huge assumption that Juwan Staten will play his senior season for the Mountaineers. Among underclassmen, Staten is currently ranked 48th by NBA draft analyst Aran Smith, of nbadraft.net. Draftexpress.com lists Staten as the 23rd best college junior and 54th overall prospect. NBA analysts most likely will want Staten to improve his long range jumper and free throw percentage so that Staten can become a Chris Paul type NBA player. If Staten stays at WVU, he would be in the pre-season Big 12 player of the year discussion. If I were Staten, I'd improve my draft status by staying in Morgantown. That's a risk, but it could pay huge dividends.

Fear not, Mountaineer faithful. The future of men's basketball looks extremely bright.

As always,

Let's Go, Mountaineers!

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