The 2019-20 WVU basketball team has a lot of new faces that were not here last season.
With so many old players gone and new ones coming in to take their spots, this season’s rotation is a little hard to predict. Luckily, head coach Bob Huggins gave some previews during Friday’s exhibition against Duquesne.
Jordan McCabe started at point guard Friday and should start there all season as long as he stays healthy. McCabe started 15 games down the stretch last season. He averaged 5.8 points and 2.5 assists per game overall last year.
Brandon Knapper and Miles McBride should be the primary backups to McCabe this year. Knapper, a sophomore, averaged five points in 13.8 minutes per game last season. McBride, a freshman, played at Archbishop Moeller High School, where he averaged 13.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game as a senior.
This could be the Mountaineers’ deepest position this season. Senior Chase Harler started Friday’s exhibition, but there are three players who could all see significant minutes. Harler had his best season at WVU last year, averaging 5.4 points and 22.3 minutes per game.
Transfer Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman were both prolific scorers at their junior colleges and should help WVU knock down more shots this season. McNeil averaged 29.7 points last season and Sherman averaged 25.9. Both could see valuable minutes this season. Sherman also played on the wing when West Virginia went into three guards sets against Duquesne.
Emmitt Matthews Jr. may end up being one of the most important players on this year’s squad. Huggins has said that Matthews is the team’s only true wing and will see the vast majority of the minutes at the position. Matthews averaged 5.4 points and 3.1 rebounds last year. When West Virginia goes small this season, Matthews will likely move out to power forward and play alongside one of the bigs.
Senior Jermaine Haley could play either guard position or at the wing this season. He will likely see time at all three spots, but he did not play Friday due to a sore back so there was no preview as to how he might be used this season. Last year Haley put up 7.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
Freshman Oscar Tshiebwe and sophomore Derek Culver could very well be the best big man duo in the Big 12 this season. What the 6’9″ Tshiebwe and 6’10” Culver may lack in size, they more than makeup for in talent.
Tshiebwe finished Friday’s exhibition with a double-double, scoring 17 points and 14 rebounds and Culver lead the conference in rebounding last season. When both are on the floor, it appears that Tshiebwe will play center and Culver power forward.
The only other big man on the team is senior Logan Routt. Routt has not played much in his career, bug Huggins has been touting his offseason improvements all preseason. Routt will always play center when on the court. If Tshiebwe or Culver are out there with him, they will play power forward. If either Routt, Tshiebwe or Culver are the only big on the floor, they will obviously play center.
WVU’s first regular-season game is this Friday at 7 p.m. against the Akron Zips.