New seasons are always exciting. Part of that excitement in college basketball always surrounds the new players that enter a program and the contributions they can make. College basketball is one place where a freshman or transfer can make a huge difference. In some cases they are depended on to make a huge difference.
Due to preexisting depth in the program, this class — unlike any in Bob Huggins’ tenure — has the least amount of pressure to contribute right away.
Let’s take a look at the new class of Mountaineers:
Class: Freshman (redshirt)
Hometown: Fairmont, WV
Jalen Bridges joined the Mountaineers before last season, taking the opportunity to redshirt and develop within the Mountaineer program.
Bridges comes with high expectations attached. He is a West Virginia native, a two-time all-state choice and a consensus top-100 player nationally. Because of his immersive year in the system he should be more ready than the typical freshmen.
Bridges is known as a shooter who can get to the basket. He has great length and reportedly has put on 20 pounds of muscle since he made the 24-mile trip from Fairmont Senior to Morgantown. Expect him to take advantage of every opportunity this season, likely giving Emmitt Matthews a break and taking minutes from others if he can consistently make perimeter shots.
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Isaiah Cottrell spent the latter part of his high school career in the Mountain State, playing at Huntington Prep. A top-100 prospect - Cottrell chose WVU over the likes of Kansas, UCLA, Florida, Arizona and at least 30 others.
At 6’10” and 240 pounds, Cottrell is, what has become, a typical West Virginia center - rebounds and runs the floor well. Cottrell comes in being known for having the most refined skill of the bunch, known for being able to face up to the basket as well as shoot with some range.
This will be a learning year for the Las Vegas transplant but expect him to see big minutes, especially when WVU wants to play big.
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Kedrian Johnson fills what has become a recruiting staple for Bob Huggins, the junior college transfer.
Like so many before him, Johnson comes in with a reputation as a scorer. Last year at Temple College (Texas) the combo-guard averaged 25.points, five assists and five rebounds and three steals per contest.
Johnson is a big guard who should be able to handle the ball, score and replace some minutes that were vacated when Jermaine Haley decided not to return for another year.
Hometown: Dakar, Senegal
Ndaiye is the prototypical Huggins project. Lanky, runs the floor well, rebounds and can play defense. If he can combine that with a burning desire to work hard and hustle, those are the skills that can get your on the court in Morgantown.
The Huntington Prep alum is a project with a huge upside. With a crowded front court this season, it is reasonable to assume that Ndiaye will spend his first season at WVU as a redshirt, learning the system, playing against the best front court in America each day and putting on muscle. In the future, he has the potential to make a huge impact.
Hometown: Wildwood, NJ
Taj Thweatt chose the Mountaineers over 16 other suitors, including Florida and Seton Hall. The 6’7” wingman comes in with one of the more impressive highlight tapes we’ve seen from a WVU recruit. The combination of flashy dunks, two-handed dunks, one-handed dunks and alley ropes showcase his obvious athleticism.
Thweatt could see action on the wing this year because he is physically gifted. With an expected learning curve and a deep bench, the freshmen will have to fight for minutes but has the ability to provide some athletic explosion off the bench.