After finishing dead last in the Big 12 in both field goal percentage (41.3%) and three-point percentage (31.6%) in a disastrous 2018-19 season, WVU coach Bob Huggins made it a point to go out and bring in a couple of players that could shoot.
The pair Huggins brought in were two of the best junior college shooters in the entire country, Sinclair Community College’s Sean McNeil ((29.7 points per game) and Collin College’s Taz Sherman (25.9 ppg).
With both McNeil and Sherman joining the Mountaineer rotation it seemed like WVU’s shooting struggles might become a thing of the past. That was not quite the case, however, as, despite increasing their win total from 15 in ’18-19 to 21 in ’19-20, the Mountaineers still shot poorly as a team.
West Virginia again finished near the bottom in field goal percentage, seventh with 42.2%, and dead last again in three-point percentage, 28.6%.
Neither McNeil or Sherman did much to fix the team’s shooting struggles. McNeil shot 36.9% from the floor and 33% from three, averaging 5.5 points per game. Sherman shot 38.3% from the floor and 33.3% from three, averaging 5.3 points per game.
Talking with Tony Caridi during the United Bank Playbook, Huggins said he expects the duo to be much better next season.
“Junior college guys, generally, are much, much better their second year than what they are their first,” Huggins said. “I think a lot of that is being more comfortable and knowing what’s going on. Instead of standing there, ‘where am I supposed to go, what am I supposed to do’, it just happens for them.”
Huggins said he knows the pair has talent and thinks the extra year of getting comfortable will make a big difference in their performance next season.
“I saw Sean play in junior college, Sean can really, really shoot the ball,” Huggins said. “He’ll be so much more comfortable. The tendency is to shoot it, you miss it, you look over at the bench and wonder ‘am I coming out?’. They know they’re not coming out, they know they’re going to play until they get tired.”
Huggins explained that, in his experience, junior college players always make a jump in year two.
“If history is an indicator, generally junior college guys are way, way, way better their second year than they are their first,” Huggins explained. “I think we can go back and look at Tarik Phillip, look at Teyvon (Myers)…Jaysean Paige.”
All three players Huggins mentioned, Phillip, Myers and Paige, came to WVU from a junior college and made drastic improvements after their first seasons with the team.
Phillip came to WVU from Independence Community College before the 2014-15 season. In his first season, he averaged 4.1 points in 34 games. That improved to 9.3 points on 41.7% shooting in his second year and again to 9.5 points on 40.7% shooting in the 2016-17 season when he was also named the Big 12 6th Man of the Year.
Myers transferred to WVU from Wilson State for the 2015-16 season. In year one Myers averaged 2.4 points on 35.6% shooting, which improved to 5.8 points on 43.9% shooting in his second, and final season as a Mountaineer.
Paige came to WVU the same season as Philip, in 2014-15, from Moberly Area Community College. He averaged 5.6 points on 40.5% shooting in his first season and then exploded to average 13.7. points on 45.5 % shooting in ’15-16. That season he was named an All-Big 12 player and, like Philip, was named the Big 12 6th Man of the Year.