Despite only graduating two seniors following the 2017-18 basketball season, the West Virginia Mountaineers got a face lift with one of its largest signing classes of Bob Huggins’ tenure in Morgantown.
Gone is Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. Also gone are Teddy Allen, Maciej Bender and D’Angelo Hunter. In their place, Huggins has added an exciting group of newcomers to the West Virginia roster. Some of them will be called upon to provide significant answers for the Mountaineer basketball team this season, but in the development and the evolution of Press Virginia, eventually this entire crop of talent will be called upon to provide answers of their own.
Let’s take a look at the new class of Mountaineers:
Although he wasn’t the highest rated recruit in the 2018 class, the viral sensation from Kaukauna, Wisconsin is definitely the player fans are most excited about.
McCabe’s handles made him an Internet superstar, earning him the nickname of “The Next White Chocolate” and a trip to the 2012 NBA All-Star weekend courtesy of Ellen Degeneres. The flashy point guard was the first to commit to Bob Huggins as part of the 2018 class, and finished his high school career as Wisconsin’s sixth all-time leading scorer with 2,442 points. McCabe averaged 26.7 points and 7.8 assists during his senior season for the Kaukauna Ghosts.
McCabe could see major minutes right out of the gate as West Virginia’s returning back court depth consists of only James Bolden, Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler. McCabe will bring a different dimension to the Mountaineer offense that we haven’t seen in the past and - if he can play defense to Bob Huggins’ liking - will allow Brandon Knapper to play off the ball.
Doomes is the yin to McCabe’s yang. Trey was the second commitment of the 2018 signing class and - while he wasn’t a viral sensation - is just as dangerous on offense as McCabe.
Doomes is an explosive wing that can get to the rim and attack the hoop on offense. He helped lead University School (Orlando, Florida) to a Class 5A state championship as a senior and a runner-up finish in the 2018 Geico High School Nationals, averaging 19.6 points and six assists on the season.
Doomes versatility gives Bob Huggins the option of going with a three guard look if he’s paired with someone like Lamont West or Andrew Gordon.
Emmit Matthews Jr.
The 6’7” forward from Tacoma, Washington had previously signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the UConn Huskies and former head coach Kevin Ollie. However, after Ollie was fired “for cause” due to an NCAA investigation into the program in March, Matthews requested and was granted a release from his NLI.
Bob Huggins wasted no time to get back in touch with the former Mountaineer target, while McCabe and Doomes did some recruiting of their own. The trio first met in AAU basketball in seventh grade, forming a bond that without a doubt played at least a small role in Matthews committing to the Mountaineers this evening.
During his final season at Wilson High School, Matthews led the Rams to the Class 3A state semifinals, despite playing with a broken wrist during the playoffs. He was a Wisconsin All-State selection, and average 22.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 blocks per game.
West Virginia fans should already be familiar with Derek Culver. He was a member of the 2017 signing class, but ended up taking the prep school route similar to former Mountaineer forward Elijah Macon and enrolled at Brewster Academy. Culver reclassified and signed with the Mountaineers again as part of the 2018 group, and is the highest rated player in the class according to 247Sports.
Culver has impressive offensive skill set for a modern big man and is polished defensively, averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds per game in his year at Brewster Academy. Culver displays an array of talent including the ability to move his feet and keep smaller, quicker forwards in front of him while displaying a mid-range jumper. Culver doesn’t look to jam it home when he’s in the paint, either. He keeps his head up and has shown the ability to move the ball around the arc, finding open teammates instead of attempting a contested rim shot.
If you’re like me, you may have just done a double take at that height and position combo. A 6’7” point guard in Bob Huggins’ Press Virginia defense seems like a match made in heaven, and if Haley can pick it up quickly he’s going to be a nightmare for opposing teams by the time conference play rolls around.
Haley comes to West Virginia from Odessa College in Odessa, Texas, where he averaged 10.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game in 33 games and was named to the Western Junior College Athletic Conference First Team and Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Haley was a member of the 2016-17 New Mexico State Aggies squad and started 15 of 31 games as a true freshman before leaving the program for Odessa.
Although his offensive performance isn’t where Bob Huggins would like it, Haley makes up for it on defense. In West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Debut scrimmage, Haley scored four points and pulled down five rebounds.
The other junior college transfer in this class will give Huggins more depth to work with in the front court.
Gordon was forced to watch his teammates at North Florida State College start the season 25-0, win their conference and regional championships and advance to the Elite Eight of their national tournament from the bench last season after tearing his ACL in a pickup game on a visit back to his hometown. As a freshman for the Raiders in 2016-17, Gordon played just over 10 minutes per game and averaged 3.7 points and 3.6 rebounds, shooting 75% from the field.
Gordon is finally back to 100% and Bob Huggins has had plenty of positive things to say about the 6’10” redshirt sophomore.
Our last new face is one that you probably haven’t heard much about if you don’t follow West Virginia high school basketball, but he could be one that we look back at in four or five years and heap praise onto Bob Huggins for doing what he needed to do to make this kid a part of the class.
The Fairmont, West Virginia native announced he’d be walking on in Morgantown back in April, after he helped lead the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears to a Class AA runner-up finish and was named the 2018 Bill Evans Award winner. Horton averaged 19.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game while shooting better than 50% from the floor during his senior season as a Polar Bear. Horton cited Jevon Carter as his favorite player, and you could see how the current Memphis Grizzlies guard influenced Horton’s performance in David Retton’s pressure defense at Fairmont Senior.
As a walk-on, we’re not likely to see much out of Horton this season but as he learns Bob Huggins’ Press Virginia defense, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear about him getting moved to a scholarship a couple years from now.