Effort, intensity, and hustle are transcendentals at every level of sports and are all indispensable. Then again, so is scoring. A season ago, West Virginia averaged a middling 73.8 ppg and had trouble conjuring anything resembling half-court offense. This season, the offense is back and it routinely seems to be fueled by the heroics of freshman guard Miles "Deuce" McBride.
In Sunday's upset over no. 2-ranked Ohio State, McBride took it upon himself to help lift the Mountaineers over the Buckeyes by going for 21 points and two rebounds. While being the game-leading scorer is an impressive enough mark, the stat line itself doesn't tell the full story.
Just under the 14-minute mark in the second half, the Ohio native went on a tear, popping off jumper after jumper that the vaunted Buckeyes defense couldn't answer for. The defining moment of his day, however, occurred with just over a minute left in the game when he dribbled down towards the right shoulder, pump-faked and floated up an unorthodox shot that hit the bottom of the net. It was part improv, part pure-confidence and echoed former Mountaineer great Da'Sean Butler. It was, without question, a beauty.
While McBride's sheer athletic talent is evident, perhaps it's how he carries himself that most impresses. Post-game, with a multitude of cameras and iPhones encircling him, McBride was cool and humble heaping praise on both head coach Bob Huggins and his teammates (full video can be viewed here). Between his penchant for making big shot after big shot and carrying himself with a quiet confidence that belies his years, it's apparent that the Archbishop Moeller alum's ceiling is as high as he wants it to be. That only means good things for a Mountaineers team that just jumped to no. 16 in the national rankings.
For a Mountaineers team that is currently surging, McBride is one of the standouts. While Brandon Knapper has been productive in spaces coming off the bench and starting PG1 Jordan McCabe has struggled to find much rhythm at all, the erstwhile quarterback prospect has consistently risen to the occasion and continues to separate himself from the rest of the pack in West Virginia's backcourt. Will he supplant McCabe and be the de facto floor general for the Mountaineers by season's end? Only time will tell.
What is already writ large, however, is that Miles McBride is one of the better up and coming guards in the nation and for his efforts, he was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week. This West Virginia team may be for real and McBride's star power is a huge reason why.
With perennial Big 12 honcho Kansas awaiting on Saturday, the gauntlet really, truly starts. Then and only then will we know just how good Miles McBride can be.