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Bock: WVU Basketball Recruiting Lost an Important Piece



WVU Basketball bench with Kerr Kriisa and Jesse Edwards
Kelsie LeRose / WVSN

On Tuesday, West Virginia’s director of recruiting Jay Kuntz released a statement, thanking WVU Basketball for his time with the program. While Kuntz is looking for another job within college basketball, WVU’s recruiting took a hit this week.

The transfer portal and NIL era have created a new landscape within the game. Now staffs, like Arkansas, have coaches refreshing the transfer portal database every couple minutes to find the new entries. College basketball teams have strategized systems of recruiting the transfer portal that the game has never seen before. I like going back to Arkansas because they are way ahead of the game in terms of portal recruiting. They’ve mastered it. Staff members immediately contact nearly every portal recruit before researching and then passing it along to HC Eric Musselman if it’s the right fit.

WVU doesn’t have 10 guys to just focus on the transfer portal. That was Kuntz.

WVU’s Director of Recruiting Jay Kuntz Releases Statement

Kuntz took over West Virginia’s transfer portal recruiting back in 2022 after the team went 16-17, missing the NCAA Tournament. At that time. WVU just had Kedrian Johnson, Kobe Johnson, Seth Wilson, Jamel King and James Okonkwo after losing Jalen Bridges, Sean McNeil and Isaiah Cottrell to the transfer portal. Through connections, Kuntz was able to lock down a portal class that consisted of Erik Stevenson, Emmitt Matthews, Tre Mitchell, Joe Toussaint and Jose Perez. The staff also went to JUCO ball to round the roster out with Jimmy Bell and Mohamed Wague.

West Virginia ended up returning to the NCAA Tournament before being bounced out by Maryland in the first round. So Kuntz took it up a notch.

WVU was able to retain the majority of its roster and then mix those guys with Kerr Kriisa, RaeQuan Battle and Jesse Edwards to create a team that could win tournament games. All guys that were sought after by Power-6 programs: Edwards chose WVU over Kansas and Gonzaga while Kriisa took a visit to Nebraska and had heavy interest from Xavier.

Then the Bob Huggins fiasco happened last summer.

During the transition process from Huggins to Josh Eilert, the team lost players to the transfer portal, seeing a team picked away that the fanbase and national media were excited to watch. It was also during the middle of the summer, and by then, the majority of transfers had found a home. Kuntz and the coaching staff were able to still get recruits while getting creative in July and August.

Despite having to retool the team multiple times in one offseason, West Virginia never got to see that original team touch the floor. The full team didn’t all play together until it was too late and WVU finished 9-23 on the year. But the talent was there. Recruiting websites had WVU with a top transfer class despite everything that happened. On3 Sports even ranked them at No. 1.

With how chaotic the transfer portal is and how teams invest so much into it, Kuntz handled it very well for West Virginia, especially with all of the extra circumstances that came with it. Name, Image and Likeness is still in its early stages and West Virginia was able to utilize that to their advantage while recruiting. With Huggins gone, that may take a hit.

Kuntz had that modern thinking that was able to keep WVU contending with top transfers and high school prospects around the country. Now it’s unknown where basketball recruiting could go as the program continues conducting its coaching search. Could WVU find a way? For sure. Fans should just hope it’s someone with modern beliefs.

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