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Bock: What Does WVU Basketball Need From Transfer Portal?



Photo: Kelsie LeRose / WVSN

The world of college basketball is in the middle of the third week in the transfer portal window as more than 1,000 kids have decided their intentions to enter. West Virginia basketball currently is in the process of retooling their roster for the second-straight year through the portal.

The Mountaineers are coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance losing to Maryland in the first round. WVU will lose fifth-year seniors Erik Stevenson, Emmitt Matthews and Kedrian Johnson to graduation. WVU has only lost Jamel King and Josiah Davis to the portal this time around. I would expect a normal couple more to enter their names into the portal but nothing unusual. As of Thursday, West Virginia has two open spots with the 13 scholarships available.

Jimmy Bell | F | 5thYr

Tre Mitchell | F | 5thYr

Jose Perez | G | 5thYr

Omar Silverio | G | 5thYr

Joe Toussaint | G| 5thYr

Kobe Johnson | G | Jr.

James Okonkwo | F | Jr.

Patrick Suemnick | F | Jr.

Mohamed Wague | F | Jr.

Seth Wilson | G | Jr.

Josiah Harris | F | So.

West Virginia hasn’t wasted any time recruiting the portal this offseason, putting a priority on Arizona transfer G Kerr Kriisa and Wyoming F Graham Ike. WVU’s staff hosted Kriisa last weekend with the visit reportedly going well. Xavier and Nebraska are also in the mix for the Pac-12 assist leader, but West Virginia has a shot.

The staff has made it clear that they will recruit the transfer portal as it worked last season. Making the NCAA Tournament should never be the standard for WVU basketball but building the blueprint for what can work recruiting-wise for this program was a success.

So that’s where things can get interesting.

West Virginia has two spots to fill but it’s natural for any college basketball program to have at least three players enter the portal. The staff has to almost ignore what could happen and instead prepare for it to happen. The team is also waiting on official decisions by Joe Toussaint, Tre Mitchell and Jimmy Bell regarding their COVID option year. But looking at the core that can return, West Virginia has many options to get creative with their roster for next season.

If WVU returns all the potential fifth-year seniors, the team will need to build around those guys. Here’s what I think West Virginia needs out of the portal.

Big Man That Can Score Double Figures Consistently

West Virginia upgraded their big men last offseason after a horrific rebounding effort in the 2021-22 season. Offensive rebounding was a big part of WVU’s end of the season run to the NCAA Tournament. But they need a big who can put up 10-plus points in the paint on a nightly basis.

Bell had his moments against TCU, Auburn and Xavier but there were instances where the JUCO product hit a wall and couldn’t nearly produce at the rim. Bell, Wague and Okonkwo all showed signs of developing but none of them could do it consistently. Maybe you could point to it being all of their first full seasons in the Big 12 and playing good minutes. Who knows, but WVU needs a big that can consistently do it on the offensive end.

Point Guard to Mesh with Toussaint

The loss of Kedrian Johnson may be the biggest as Johnson was playing the best basketball of his career at the end of the season. Many questioned how Johnson and Toussaint would mesh together and they did a great job. Now WVU’s staff needs to find another ball handler, or two.

The potential addition of Kriisa would work well with Toussaint. The two would guarantee that a true ball handler would be on the floor the majority of the time.

An Athletic Wing to Play the Role of Matthews

One key player type that this new West Virginia team needs is an athletic wing. Your closest options are Jose Perez or Mitchell but getting a guy that’s built and plays like Emmitt Matthews or Jalen Bridges. West Virginia needs a 6-foot-7 wing that can take it to the basket at any moment and create a play.

Maybe without the portal you can look to Josiah Harris, who just completed his freshman season.


At the beginning of the season, it appeared as West Virginia’s strength was depth. By conference play, it was clear that many of the guys weren’t ready for the Big 12 gauntlet. Toussaint and occasionally Seth Wilson showed consistently as the majority of the bench was dipping their toes into how brutal the schedule is.

This to me will be West Virginia’s hardest box to check on the transfer wish list. You’re not going to find many players in the transfer portal that would be all-in for coming off the bench. A lot of guys entered are looking for more playing time. It would be different if WVU was a mid-major but they’re in one of the best conferences in the country. You may be able to get guys to buy-in who are returning but some of those guys have been on the bench for a year or two now and are probably looking for more playing time.


As of Thursday, Harris is the only player on the roster for next season that is either a freshman or sophomore. West Virginia has recruited the 2024 and 2025 classes hard the last few months but if they’re going to continue to recruit the portal year-by-year, they should look at securing a second-year player that has multiple years of eligibility.

It may seem like I’m asking for a lot for this team, but WVU is in a fine position. At this point last year, West Virginia had five guys on campus. Now with 11 for now, the staff can build around their experienced players once again.

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