WVU Basketball’s Ability to Retain in Offseason is Note Worthy
WVU basketball’s offseason has produced one of the best transfer portal classes in the country, bringing in five players from each level of college basketball. What’s flown under the radar this offseason is how West Virginia has been able to retain their players with eligibility.
West Virginia has lost Jimmy Bell (C – Mississippi State), Jamel King (F – Kennesaw State) and Josiah Davis (G – Tennessee Tech) during the transfer portal window. Bell started in all 34 games for the Mountaineers while King and Davis struggled to find minutes in the rotation. In the transfer portal era, it’s difficult for any team to retain players. Kansas has lost eight players to the portal, for example. In regards to the Big 12, only three programs have lost fewer players to the transfer portal than WVU.
Here’s the list of players that haven’t shown the intent of entering the transfer portal:
Josiah Harris | So. | F
Kobe Johnson | Jr. | G
Tre Mitchell | 5th-Yr. | F
James Okonkwo | Jr. | F
Jose Perez | 5th-Yr. | G
Patrick Suemnick | Jr. | F
Joe Toussaint | 5th-Yr. | G
Mohamed Wague | Jr. | F
Seth Wilson | Jr. | G
Mitchell, Perez and Toussaint all made videos announcing their returns to West Virginia for the 2023-24 season, opting into year five for each. The transfer portal window closed last Thursday. Any player planned to play for West Virginia next season can still enter the portal but will need a waiver to play immediately.
In the current landscape of college basketball, it is surprising that Kobe Johnson and Seth Wilson haven’t departed from the program. Johnson and Wilson have been with WVU since 2021, working their way into the rotation but never finding consistent significant playing time. Bob Huggins and his coaching staff also brought in guards Kerr Kriisa, RaeQuan Battle and Omar Silverio as transfers while returning Toussaint.
It’s common for someone to test their potential in the transfer portal and find a school where they can play more quality minutes. Players are either transferring up after producing well in mid-major basketball or they’re transferring down to receive more opportunities. Johnson and Wilson will come off the bench for a third-straight season at WVU with the wave of transfer guards coming in.
Mohamed Wague, James Okonkwo, Josiah Harris and Patrick Suemnick are all returning players that had the option to leave and receive more minutes. But after the transfer portal window closing, it appears that WVU’s bench will look similar to last season.
As of Wednesday, WVU has 49 percent of minutes and 45 percent of their scoring returning from last season. For reference, the Mountaineers returned 17 percent of minutes and 11 percent of scoring the previous offseason.
West Virginia has found a formula for success in the transfer portal era, bringing in high-quality transfers from Division-I basketball. By also retaining and continuing to build chemistry, WVU has the potential to find that perfect balance heading forward.