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Bock: Will an Unusual Pairing of Kerr Kriisa at West Virginia Work?



WVU basketball

West Virginia fans should be looking forward to basketball next season already. WVU’s coaching staff received a commitment from top transfer guard Kerr Kriisa on Wednesday, who leaves Arizona after three seasons. Kriisa comes to Morgantown as a playmaker and a good shooter.

It’s definitely a different fit for both Kriisa and West Virginia’s program. Kriisa will be joining a different team and living in a culturally opposite state than Arizona. You can’t find many players that play like a true point guard like Kriisa does and it has been a while since Bob Huggins has had a true point guard.

West Virginia’s staff has made it clear that Kriisa was a priority to get in the transfer portal, and rightfully so. Kriisa averaged 9.9 points and 5.1 assists on an Arizona team that earned a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Kriisa shot 37 percent from three, taking over six three’s a game. Kriisa’s run in the tournament with the Wildcats was underwhelming as they were upset by Princeton in the first round. Kriisa mentioned to ESPN  that he just wanted a fresh start, which would correlate with his recruitment.

Kriisa had major interest from Xavier, Nebraska and Creighton as well. Kriisa only visited Nebraska after his trip to Morgantown but the connection to old head coach Sean Miller at Xavier seemed to be the highest contender to land the Estonian native.

The college basketball world has been fascinated by this pairing. Many have said it’s a great pickup for WVU, while others are questioning whether or not Kriisa will fit in under Huggins.

How will Kriisa fit and what’s next?

I think Kriisa will take the role of Erik Stevenson this upcoming year. The two have different play styles but share similarities as embracing the villain role in college basketball. Expect a lot of opposing Big 12 fan bases to hate Kriisa for the next year or two. TCU fans have already shown their disdain for Kriisa after his WVU commitment.

I don’t think there will be any problem with Huggins working with Kriisa. Many have said that Kriisa can hurt a team with his emotions and sometimes inconsistent play. Huggins is a Hall of Fame coach for a reason, he’ll fit in Kriisa one way or another. I’m sure Huggins has dealt with worse during his 40-year-plus career.

Kriisa will have to start playing defense, which is his liability in his game. The three-year starter at Arizona even admits he’ll have to play more defense under Huggins.

It’s a little too early to tell how Kriisa will mesh with his new teammates as the transfer portal is still open for another month. Kriisa and WVU are still waiting on Tre Mitchell and Jimmy Bell to decide on their COVID-year options. More good news came on Friday as Joe Toussaint opted in for his fifth year in college basketball, returning to West Virginia.

I really like the direction the staff is currently taking with the transfer portal. Director of Recruiting Jay Kuntz has done a great job at contacting the transfer portal entries and getting them to visit campus. Even Jose Perez, who transferred in from Manhattan this past fall, has helped with the player connections in the recruiting. Kriisa mentioned in the ESPN story that he loved the genuine personality that Huggins has. Huggins being truthful with the players, even in the portal, has paid off and they know he’s not going to give them the red carpet treatment unless they earn it.

I’ve said before this offseason that West Virginia has to get big-time players in the transfer portal, that was the next step in their recruiting. Last offseason was a good start with their first crack at the portal but they needed to land the cream of the crop. And with Kriisa, they have.

I think next for West Virginia, they need a scoring big man and a three-and-d wing player. The team currently has one spot to fill but we’re still early into the offseason so I’d expect two-to-three more spots to fill after Kriisa. Pitt transfer John Hugley will visit West Virginia from April 21-23, a source told WV Sports Now earlier this week. That would continue the great start for WVU in the transfer portal this offseason, as they were ranked the No. 1 class in the country early on.

The job is no where near finished for WVU, but on paper, West Virginia has landed an all-league talent with Kriisa.

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