The long anticipated wait for the 2020-21 college basketball season is almost over as the West Virginia Mountaineers begin play this Wednesday vs South Dakota State in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic. What will the Mountaineers' starting lineup and rotation look like? Well, let's take a look at our projections!
G Jordan McCabe
It's McCabe's third year in the system and it should be the best we've seen from him thus far. He's improved his shot according to Coach Huggins and has a really good grasp of the offense. His shot may be much improved, but don't expect him to get 15-20 points a night. McCabe is still going to be the facilitator of the offense and will chip in his fair share of points. For West Virginia to make a deep run this March, McCabe has to run the offense at a high level and take care of the ball.
G Miles McBride
"Deuce" quickly became a trusty hand last year for Bob Huggins during his freshman season, becoming one of the best offensive players on the team, despite shooting just 40% from the field and 30% from three. He led all Mountaineers with 16 games of finishing with double figures and I would not be shocked to see him lead in that department again. Last month, Huggins told the media that he's the first name that comes out of NBA scouts' mouths. Expect McBride to have a breakout season in 2020-21 and become one of the best guards not only in the Big 12, but in the country.
F Emmitt Matthews Jr.
To say the 2019-20 season was a disappointment for Matthews Jr. would be an understatement. Everything that he did so well in his freshman season seemed to have just disappeared during his sophomore season. He has to get back to attacking the basket and being aggressive with the ball in his hands and not pass up on shots. His potential is through the roof, he just has to get his confidence back - if he does, lookout.
F Derek Culver
A lot of the attention in the West Virginia frontcourt goes to Oscar Tshiebwe and rightfully so, but Culver may be the more polished player at this point and time. He's come extremely close to averaging a double-double in his first two years as a Mountaineer and I firmly believe that he'll get to that mark in 2020-21. He is learning how to play with more control, understanding body positioning, and is just getting stronger and stronger.
F Oscar Tshiebwe
Every really good college basketball team has that one freak athlete that just jumps off the screen when you watch him play - Tshiebwe is that guy. He is so incredibly gifted with elite athleticism and is still learning how to play basketball along the way. As a freshman, Tshiebwe averaged 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Now, he's got a full year under his belt playing with another big like Culver and should know how to move around underneath more efficiently.
Guards: Taz Sherman, Sean McNeil, Kedrian Johnson, Spencer Macke
Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil are shooting the nets off the basket right now in practice, which bodes well for the Mountaineers who as a team finished dead last in three-point field goal percentage in 2019-20. Those two plus the addition of JUCO guard Kedrian Johnson give West Virginia multiple scorers off the bench at the guard spot. Johnson can really score the ball, but we may see his defense have a bigger impact this year.
Wings: Jalen Bridges, Taj Thweatt
Ahhhh, a sigh of relief for Bob Huggins as he finally has some depth behind Emmitt Matthews Jr. Jalen Bridges is someone that Huggins said could have helped the team last year had they not decided to redshirt him. Both he and the true freshman Taj Thweatt are big, long, athletic wings that can guard anywhere from the two to the four. There may not be a ton of experience behind Matthews Jr., but there is no shortage of talent, that's for sure.
Bigs: Gabe Osabuohien, Isaiah Cottrell, Seny N'diaye
Anytime West Virginia needed to add some physicality to the floor or just a spark defensively, Gabe Osabuohien was inserted into the game. He didn't fill up the stat sheet by any means, but he did all of the dirty work and may have been one of the most important pieces to the team's success a year ago. What makes this frontcourt even more dangerous is talented true freshman Isaiah Cottrell who can really stretch defenses with his range. This will be a four-headed monster that not many in the country are going to be able to match. Seny N'diaye won't see much playing time as it will be a year to sit, learn, and develop. Huggins does like what he's seen from him thus far and feels like he has a bright future.
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