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Bob Huggins Talks New-Look Mountaineers Before First Practice, A Lot of New Names and Faces



As the West Virginia basketball team prepares to start practice on Tuesday, WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins spoke with the media to discuss the new team that will be looking to return back to the NCAA Tournament in 2022.

Team Is Consisted of 15 Players, Which Is a Good Thing

After a chaotic off-season, WVU is left with 15 players on the basketball roster this season. How did the Mountaineers recover from losing five players?

Freshmen Seth Wilson, Kobe Johnson, Jamel King and James Okonkwo has all enrolled at the university, while graduate transfers Dimon Carrigan (Florida-International), Malik Curry (Old Dominion) and Pauly Paulicap (DePaul) were added to the basketball team a few months ago.

“We’ve got a lot of guys. 15 guys is a lot of guys,” Huggins said.

Huggins doesn’t think that this will be a problem attitude-wise.

“I just don’t think with our guys and their personalities and the way they get along with each other that we’ll have any issues with bad attitudes or anything like that,” Huggins said. “And then actually if we have a bad attitude then we’ll have 14 [guys].”

Remember, seniors Taz Sherman and Gabe Osabuohien will not be included in the 13 scholarship rule due to the COVID exception.

Huggins also mentioned that he does not plan on redshirting anybody.

What Does Huggins Think of The Seven Newcomers?

As the team has taken a complete 180 turn from last season’s roster, Huggins made a few comments on the new players.

“Well, hopefully they can get a rebound or two. We’re going to have enough people,” Huggins said.

Who has been the biggest surprise for the future hall of famer?

17-year-old freshman James Okonkwo.

Okonkwo just arrived on campus in August and is already impressing the coaching staff with how he has adapted into the program.

“James is really playing well and he’s far and away the quickest guy off the floor and get to a lot of balls,” Huggins said. “I think the more and more I watched him, I was pretty well set with we were going to bring him in and redshirt him and get him bigger and stronger for the following year, but he’s playing really well.”

Huggins pointed out that Curry has improved a lot with his foot speed and shooting since he arrived on campus.

Isaiah Cottrell Hasn’t Lost a Beat Since Returning To the Floor

Back in December, forward Isaiah Cottrell tore his Achilles and was out for roughly eight months. On Aug. 24, Cottrell was cleared to return to all basketball activities. 

Has Cottrell struggled in any way to get back to where he was?

“No, not at all,” Huggins said. “They did a great job of having a progression ready for when he got healed up and they took their time and continued to work with him. He did a great job of making sure that he was there all the time and doing everything he was supposed to be doing, but he’s been great.”

Cottrell is listed as a redshirt freshman for the upcoming 2021-22 basketball season. As a true freshmen, Cottrell played 10 games and averaged 1.6 points and 1.4 rebounds. The former Huntington Prep player received the most action against Gonzaga, playing 11 minutes and scoring six points. The Mountaineer fans really haven’t gotten to see what Cottrell is all about.

“He’s every bit of 6-foot-10 or 6-foot-11 and he can step outside and make shots. He’s not Taz [Sherman] or Sean [McNeil] but he may be our third best shooter,” Huggins said. “Just having drawn bigs away from the goal, which I think will really help.”

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Ethan Bock is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in journalism at WVU. He currently writes for The Daily Athenaeum and is an intern with the Final Fourcast podcast. Ethan has covered WVU football and men’s basketball for the last year with Blue Gold Sports — an USA Today credentialed outlet. He is from Cincinnati, OH.

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