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WVU’s Seth Wilson, James Okonkwo Gaining Confidence as Sophomores



MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — All it can take is one game, one play to elevate your confidence to the next level. That’s what happened to WVU’s Seth Wilson and James Okonkwo on Wednesday against Texas Tech.

“It’s just one of those things where I have to stay ready because you just never know. Things are always different when you get on the floor. Coaches did have us prepared,” Wilson said. “My whole thing was just making sure I was ready for those moments.”

Wilson finished with a career-high 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting from three in a 76-61 win over the Red Raiders. Wilson continued to hit three’s in big situations when WVU’s offense needed it. Wilson’s 15-point performance helped West Virginia’s bench accumulate 50 points in the win.

The sophomore from Ohio credits Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil, who played with Wilson last season at WVU.

“I knew who I was learning behind. I was learning behind Sean and Taz, which are two great guards to learn from,” Wilson said on Friday. “I just tried to be a sponge and absorb everything I can in order to help me and help us move forward. I learned how to compete and leadership things.”

Wilson is averaging 5.2 points on 42 percent shooting this season. Wilson has been receiving compliments on campus from his classmates for his recent play.

“It’s cool. You really realize how much you mean to the university,” Wilson said. “It puts another level of motivation.”

Wilson’s teammate, Okonkwo, has also received compliments for recent play.

“I was just waking home and four people that I didn’t know just yelled nice block and I was confused. I said thank you and kept walking,” Okonkwo said.

The block that those people were talking about was Okonkwo’s best play in his career at the Division-I level.

“We probably watched that video 1,000 times on the bus. We’re excited for him,” Wilson added.

Okonkwo had his most complete game against Texas Tech, recording five points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Okonkwo made one field goal and shot a perfect 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.

“I think it’s getting there,” Okonkwo said. “I think it’s going up. I think coach [Huggins] trusts me more. He knows what he puts me in to do. Confidence is going up.”

Like Wilson, the England native has been taking a page from a former Mountaineer. Okonkwo said that he has been watching Sagaba Konate’s tape from the time he was at West Virginia. Konate leads WVU’s basketball program all-time in blocks with 191.

Okonkwo talked about watching the game against Kansas in 2018 when Konate had five blocks.

“I was just watching people drive to the lane and he just got up with two hands, hand in front of the rim,” Okonkwo said. “I watch a lot of Sags’ tape.”

Wilson and Okonkwo will look to continue their momentum as individuals and as a team when they host No. 15 Auburn on Saturday for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge at the WVU Coliseum.

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