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Bock: Erik Stevenson Replaces the Role of Departing Sean McNeil for WVU

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Who said the transfer portal was a bad thing? As West Virginia picked up their first transfer in the offseason with the commitment of Erik Stevenson on Sunday afternoon, the future Mountaineer replaces the role of the departing Sean McNeil.

This is a good thing, but has a possibility of being a bad thing.

The acquisition of Stevenson was a great get by the West Virginia coaching staff. Stevenson is a veteran guard who plays great defense and can get you double figures in scoring. In his senior season playing for Frank Martin at South Carolina, Stevenson averaged 11.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals in 31 games. The 6-foot-3 guard shot 37 percent from the field, 33 percent from three and 98 percent from the free-throw line. Yes, you read that correctly, Stevenson missed one free-throw all season.

Stevenson will now be paired up with Kedrian “Keddy” Johnson in the backcourt next season, which will give many offenses problems. The duo of Stevenson and Johnson combined for 85 steals on their respective teams this past season. Then-sophomore guards Kobe Johnson and Seth Wilson will also play huge roles in the rotation next season. The guard rotation that WVU has lined up for the 2022-23 season is pretty deep.

Stevenson will take the role of what McNeil would’ve had if he returned to Morgantown for his fifth season. Both are fifth-year senior guards who play off the ball well. Stevenson plays better defense than McNeil, but isn’t as good as a shooter from deep as McNeil was. McNeil had similar numbers to Stevenson, averaging 12.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

So what’s the possible bad thing you may ask?

Stevenson is a great get, there’s nothing to complain about there. But after the regret that WVU head coach Bob Huggins showed mid-way through this past season about getting one year guys brings up a good point.

“Honestly, we probably didn’t do a very good job in the portal,” Huggins said referring to last offseason.

This past season, it took Malik Curry, Pauly Paulicap and Dimon Carrigan until the final two weeks of the season to get it going consistently. If these guys had another year in Morgantown, they would’ve flourished even more. If Stevenson takes majority of the season to get it going, it could be bad for West Virginia.

The Mountaineers are in the same situation if McNeil stayed. Just instead, Stevenson will be taking his minutes in the rotation. Is it worth one year of Stevenson potentially clogging the lineup and taking way minutes from Kobe Johnson and Wilson who could take a leap next year?

It should be interesting to see how this ends up. If WVU’s coaching staff can get more immediate impact guys, the acquisition of Stevenson will be great as he can play the supporting role to those guys. If not, Stevenson will have to find a way to led this team in his only year in Morgantown.

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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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