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Bock: Critics Told Huggins To Get With the Times, and He Did

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Bob Huggins
Photo: Julia Mellett / WVSN

Bob Huggins heard you.

The Hall of Fame coach and his staff went months listening to the crowd that wanted them to get with the times in regards to the new world of college basketball.

The transfer portal is still fairly new but many programs around the country started using the resource to retool their rosters every offseason. Even the blue bloods like Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina dipped their toes into the portal picking up valuable pieces. Kansas added Remy Martin last offseason, who ended up being a needed piece off the bench during their run to the second National Championship under Bill Self. North Carolina reached the title game against the Jayhawks with help by Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek. Kentucky got their first unanimous National Player of the Year in WVU transfer Oscar Tshiebwe. You get the point.

This is the new way of winning in college basketball.

“Honestly, we probably didn’t do a good job in the portal [last offseason],” Huggins said after a third-consecutive loss back in January.

Huggins said this to the media after falling to Texas Tech on the road, who took advantage of the transfer portal the most in the Big 12 Conference since the hiring of Mark Adams. After former head coach Chris Beard ditched the Red Raiders for his alma mater in Austin, Adams and his staff added four impactful transfers and picked back right up where Beard left the program, appearing in the Sweet 16.

Texas Tech has done great in the transfer portal once again this offseason but who has kept up with them? Huggins and his staff have.

According to EvanMiya, college basketball statistician and data scientist, West Virginia has the No. 4 incoming transfer portal class in the country. With a couple of calls and connections, WVU’s coaching staff was able to retool their depleted roster into a competitive team next season.

WVU’s INCOMING TRANSFERS FROM THE PORTAL:

EMMITT MATTHEWS JR., F, 5th Year, WASHINGTON

11.7 PTS / 4.7 REB / 0.6 AST

TRE MITCHELL, F, Sr., TEXAS

8.7 PTS / 4.0 REB / 1.3 AST / 0.7 BLK

ERIK STEVENSON, G, 5th Year, SOUTH CAROLINA

11.6 PTS / 4.8 REB / 2.8 AST / 1.1 STL

JOE TOUSSAINT, G, Sr., IOWA

4.3 PTS / 1.7 REB / 3.2 AST / 1.4 STL, 2.33 AST/TO RATIO

Some may look at this list of players and ask what’s the difference between this group and last year’s transfers? The biggest difference is Power-5 experience. Between the four incoming transfers, they each at least have a year of high-level experience.

There are some question marks about this team, and rightfully so. You’re bringing eight new players and mixing them with five returning players from last year’s team. All we know for now is that Huggins and his staff got their type of players. Matthews and Stevenson will be great leaders for the many young, developing players that are on the roster. Toussaint and Mitchell will be able to breathe and relax as they both have two years of eligibility.

As of this week, all 13 scholarship players are on campus and getting settled in with the new group. It is all positive vibes so far.

“Love this team…,” Matthews wrote on Twitter.

“Been trying to say this! Special group,” Stevenson responded.

Regardless on how good or bad this team is, Huggins and his staff worked tremendously hard to catch up with the new age of college basketball. Now you can’t say they aren’t trying in the transfer portal.

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Ethan Bock is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in journalism at WVU. He currently is an intern with the Final Fourcast podcast. Ethan has covered WVU football and men’s basketball for the last year. He is from Cincinnati, Ohio.

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