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Bock: Next Staff at WVU Will Have Serious Work to Do Recruiting-Wise



WVU Coliseum stock with Battle intro

At some point within the next month, WVU Basketball will have a new head coach and leader of the program. No matter who it is, that coach and his staff will have a lot of work to do recruiting-wise to build a culture within the building.

Over the last two off-seasons, West Virginia has gone to the transfer portal to retool their rosters year-by-year. In 2022, WVU retained five players from the previous season while in 2023, they retained just four after the Bob Huggins fiasco. They had to go the portal route, they didn’t have a choice without any large high school classes. WVU director of recruiting Jay Kuntz played a big part in adding the likes of Erik Stevenson, Kerr Kriisa, Jesse Edwards, RaeQuan Battle, etc. over the past two years. While it worked for West Virginia last season, reaching the NCAA Tournament, this year was a different story as many of those transfers couldn’t play until Christmas time.

While the talent is there, West Virginia fell behind this season as a young staff was trying to gel their players during a tough stretch in conference play.

WVU interim head coach Josh Eilert came across a social media post recently that highlighted the eight Power-6 teams that brought in seven or more transfers. As of Wednesday, just St. John’s and Memphis sit on the bubble.

“I don’t think that’s a coincidence,” he said.

Once again, West Virginia will have no choice in how they rebuild their roster this spring. The new staff will have to use the transfer portal even if they’re able to retain the eligible players. It won’t be an easy task for a staff that will be getting comfortable in Morgantown.

During and after the next staff’s rebuild of this roster, they’re going to have to build some culture that includes high school recruiting momentum. Eilert and his staff have been handcuffed with long-term recruiting this season as it’s not guaranteed that they’ll be here after the season. Eilert went into detail with the media on Tuesday about how his staff focused on 2025 kids over 2024 based on the uncertainty.

WVU’s only 2024 signee, Carmelo Adkins, knows about the elephant in the room. Adkins is a 6-foot-5 prep school guard who was recruited by WVU assistant Jordan McCabe. Adkins is a big fan of the current staff here but might be joining a staff he didn’t commit to.

“It sucks knowing that they are in that position right now,” Adkins said in November. “Obviously it was a risk but I’m a risk taker.”

Carmelo Adkins

Carmelo Adkins

West Virginia’s next staff is going to have to find a perfect mix of recruiting: transfer portal, high school, etc. Whoever accepts the head coaching job will have to balance retention with recruiting. WVU has had some retention problems over the last couple of years, especially given the fact that the portal re-opened for the players after Huggins’ resignation, but it doesn’t help when you have to replace fifth-year seniors every off-season. For example, current WVU guards Kobe Johnson and Seth Wilson have had 33 combined teammates over their three years at WVU.

This won’t be an easy job for the next coach. At all. West Virginia still can tout itself as a great job because of its modern and historic success. WVU has a great fanbase, nice basketball facilities and a top basketball conference. There’s at least a base of something for the next staff to pitch to recruits. Without Huggins, I’d expect the NIL resources to be not as strong at all for the men’s basketball program. But that’s another problem we can discuss when the transfer portal really kicks up.

This spring will be very interesting for West Virginia since next season will have a new-look staff and roster. It’s going to be pivotal for the next set of coaches to turn this thing around quickly, both for the good of the short and the long term.

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