First Team All-Big 12 Conference selection Derek Culver left the West Virginia basketball program rather abruptly following the end of the season. Speculation swirled around social media and message boards on the reason behind the decision of signing with an uncertified NBA agent and not having the option to return to Morgantown for the 2021-22 season.
For the first time since the NCAA tournament, Culver met with the media on Tuesday following a pre-draft workout with the Golden State Warriors where he got the chance to answer the question of why he left West Virginia early.
“It was something me and my family we talked about for a little while. We just weighed our options. I just felt like it was time for us to take that route. Me and my family, we talked and deliberated about it for a long time, and we ended up at the conclusion of doing that. We felt like it was a good choice.”
Despite nearly averaging a double-double the last two seasons (12.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg), there seemed to be a consensus among West Virginia fans and media that Culver is not ready for the NBA due to not developing a consistent mid-range game. However, it had been reported that Culver has indeed worked on his outside shot and is looking to be a stretch four, and he confirmed it Tuesday afternoon.
“To transition to the next level, I feel like had to expand my game a little bit by putting it on the floor a little bit more, shooting elbow shots and shooting at a more of a consistent rate at the three-point line,” he said before explaining that is what West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins told him he needed to do to go to the next level.
“He told me I’m going to need to be able to shoot the ball because, you know, there’s no traditional power forwards in the game anymore. You either got to create your own, or you have to be able to put yourself in a good position, so when someone does get the ball to you, you can put it on the ground, or you’ll be able to shoot it. He told me to work on my game as a whole,” said Culver.
The Youngstown, OH native said he’s primarily gotten positive feedback from the pre-draft workouts with the Knicks, Timberwolves, Warriors, Cavaliers and humbly said, “I feel like they already know what I can do. I just have to show effort, intensity, consistency, things like that – just show that I can do it all the time.” Later adding, “All in all, it’s going pretty good right now.”
Despite the grind of growing his game, he is enjoying the process.
“It’s fun. I’m learning as I go to different places and see how different organizations go about their business and conduct themselves differently. I’m having a hell of an experience. I’m taking it day by day,” he said.
Culver spent three years in Morgantown. Early in his freshman season, Culver was suspended from the team. He worked hard to earn Huggins' trust and got back out on the court. Since then, Culver has credited the future Hall of Famer for getting him on the right path.
“I grew up a lot at West Virginia,” he said. “Coach Huggs really taught me a lot as a person, player, and a man in general.”
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