West Virginia Basketball got some great news, with Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe both electing to return for the 2020-21 season.
It was a season of peaks and valleys for West Virginia Basketball this past season. They started out 16-3 and were ranked as high as No. 12 in the country. When the early bracket release came out, the Mountaineers were projected to be as high as a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Things went down from there, going on a bad run of six losses in seven games to finish with nine total in Big 12 play, although the team did end the season on a positive note, beating Baylor at home in the regular-season finale.
The highlights of the team were clearly the frontcourt duo of Derek Culver (10.4 ppg and 8.6 rpg) and Oscar Tshiebwe (11.2 ppg and 9.3 rpg). These were the top scorers and rebounders for West Virginia and the catalysts of the return of being defensive juggernauts. There was a chance that either one or both big men would declare for the NBA Draft or at the very least, test the waters.
Assuming this is what happens, West Virginia will have arguably the best overall frontcourt in the Big 12 for 2020-21. Kansas takes a hit with Udoka Azubuike graduating, while Baylor departs with Freddie Gillespie as well. That being said though, what the Mountaineers need to be worried more about the perimeter production.
Not a single guard or wing for the Mountaineers last season averaged in double figures, with only freshman Miles McBride and senior Jermaine Haley showing any kind of consistent offense. They were one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country and were prone to a number of droughts in a single game. JUCO point guard Kedrian Johnson is part of the 2020 class but as of now, there isn’t a newcomer guard that can have the kind of needed impact for West Virginia to take a major leap. The hope is that Emmitt Matthews Jr., Sean McNeil and others can collectively improve to at least not be a glaring weakness for next season.
With both Tshiebwe and Culver coming back, West Virginia should be projected as a back-end top-25 preseason team. But if they can possibly land a talented scoring grad transfer guard, they’ll have Final Four potential for the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The rebounding, defense and experience is already there for Bob Huggins, they just have to find someone that can put the ball in the basket on a consistent basis.