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Bock: West Virginia’s Ceiling is How Far Their Depth Can Take Them



Throughout the first seven games of the season, it has been clear that West Virginia’s biggest strength is their depth. The bench, highlighted by Joe Toussaint and Mohamed Wague, has been the base point of high energy of each player that comes off the sidelines. The depth from WVU will take this team as far they’ll go.

Bob Huggins is saying screw beating your best five, I’ll beat your best 14, literally. From Toussaint to Josiah Davis this team has players that can come off the bench and give a restored energy that’s been pretty consistent so far. West Virginia arguably has nine players that could start at any point throughout the season. That doesn’t even include Manhattan transfer Jose Perez, who is still waiting on the NCAA for his eligibility decision.

West Virginia’s Bench Stats Through 7 Games:

  • Bench 7-0 against other benches
  • Average 33.4 points per game

For this to be said this early is a testament to how well the coaching staff recruited during the offseason. At one point, the team had five returning players: Kedrian Johnson, Kobe Johnson, Seth Wilson, James Okonkwo and Jamel King. The staff had an outlook of building around transfers Erik Stevenson, Emmitt Matthews and Tre Mitchell. Building depth around that core has created a team that’s top-to-bottom a solid group. Everyone knows their role and they each bring something different to the table.

Wilson and Jimmy Bell, two important role players, have been some of the biggest surprises so far. Wilson’s last week in the Phil Knight Legacy tournament showed that WVU has another player off the bench that can get a basket when needed. Wilson averaged 7.0 points in 15 minutes through the three games in Portland.

“He’s been huge. That’s what he does, he makes shots. He’s got great strength. You don’t even know he’s a little smaller because of his physicality,” Huggins said.

Bell has quickly become more comfortable with his role on a new team, serving as the starting center for the beginning of the season. The JUCO product is averaging 4.6 points and 5.3 rebounds on 59 percent shooting so far. Bell did all he could against Purdue big Zach Edey but held two-time All-SEC recipient Colin Castleton to three points in the Florida game.

“[He’s improved on] Everything. He has great feet,” Huggins said. “He’s scoring it around the goal which he didn’t do when we first got him.”

Wilson and Bell are just two examples of how each player on this team knows their role, which is why this team is 6-1 with their only loss coming to a red hot Purdue squad. If the bench can keep their production going, this team has potential to be a memorable group.

West Virginia has a chance to secure their biggest win of the season on Saturday against Xavier in Cincinnati. WVU’s under-the-radar team has slowly received attention from the national audience and can only keep it growing with a win over the Musketeers.

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