With the 2021 NBA Combine officially in the books, West Virginia guard Miles "Deuce" McBride will have about a week and a half to make his decision. McBride will either leave his name in the draft and forgo his final two years at WVU or he will return for at least one more year.
Yesterday, we took a peek at what the Mountaineers' starting five could look like if McBride remained in the NBA Draft while today, we will look at what the lineup could look like with him back in Morgantown.
You hate to say that a team's success will be impacted by just one player but if McBride returns to the Mountaineers, WVU will be a frontrunner to win the Big 12 Conference. Without McBride, West Virginia is likely a team that sneaks into the NCAA Tournament but doesn't have much hope for advancing very far. Besides making the team better by returning, McBride would also have another year of working on his craft and proving to NBA scouts that he is worthy of a 1st round pick.
I think you could go either way with this. McNeil and Taz Sherman are very similar and have a similar impact on the game. They will both see a ton of playing time but I think Sherman feels more comfortable coming off the bench which is what some guys prefer. Jaysean Paige was the same way. Huggins tried to turn him into a starter but he didn't produce at the same level as he did coming off the bench. McNeil was in the starting lineup for much of last year, so I'll give him the nod.
In my opinion, and I think it's one that many others share, Jalen Bridges is a star in the making for the Mountaineers. You could tell as the season went on last year that he was beginning to feel more and more comfortable with his role and what he was asked to do. He shot the three-ball extremely well and was very active on the offensive glass. There shouldn't be any more nerves or jitters that he'll have to work through. Now, he can just go out and play and potentially become one of the team's most consistent players.
Osabuohien will be in the starting lineup as long as Huggins decides to go with a two-guard lineup instead of three. He wants Bridges to move back to the three so that has me believing the four spot will be there for Osabuohien. WVU was atrociously bad defending the paint a year ago and having Osabuohien on the floor in an expanded role should help fix some of those issues. Huggins will also have elite shot-blockers Dimon Carrigan and Pauly Paulicap coming off of the bench.
It took Cottrell a few games to really get settled in last year but started to put it all together just before he suffered a torn Achilles and was ruled out for the season. He will replace Derek Culver who is off to the professional ranks and even though he's got some big shoes to fill, Cottrell should be able to handle the task. He has a good mid-range jumper and can step out and shoot the three-ball on occasion - something Culver could not do.
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