Bob Huggins’ roster keeps getting smaller and this offseason keeps getting longer. WVU broke up with Aaric Murray Monday — and probably earlier than that, I’ve heard — which means five players have left early and three more graduated since the end of that 13-19 season. Huggins signed six players and has a quizzical commitment from a seventh, Daxter Miles, who we’ll just go ahead and exclude from future conversations because it doesn’t look like he’ll be making it here and it would appear, thanks to various accounts, the story of his commitment is a little bit exaggerated.
Anyhow, Murray’s loss is big in that he was big and WVU didn’t and now doesn’t have a wealth of big players. We can argue talent, trouble and potential all we want, though “argue” probably isn’t the right word, and eventually realize it would have been nice to have a 6-foot-10 guy around, even if he’s your 10th guy. Now Huggins has Kevin Noreen and some new guys.
“We signed six guys who are over 6-foot-7, so I think we’re OK,” Huggins said.
Only three – freshmen Nathan Adrian, Devin Williams and Brandon Watkins – are on campus. Junior college transfers Jonathan Holton and Remi Dibo and freshman Elijah Macon have not arrived. Holton and Macon have eligibility issues to settle before they can enroll.
“Those three are going to be fine, I think,” Huggins said.
Oh, boy. Personally, I need to see Macon on campus before I give him much thought. The word, which always seems to change around him, is that he needs a test score to come back. I know Holton had a lot of work to do over the summer because his ouster at Rhode Island meant he needed to knock out 1 1/2 years of college in one year at Palm Beach State College. He really couldn’t afford any missteps. Remi Dibo’s absence is bizarre to me because I never got the indication he was in need of what Macon and Holton need.
But, man, what if one, some or all of them don’t make it? You’re left with this and Huggins is left with a fine mess to deal with just three seasons remved from a Final Four appearance. This really has turned into something you could not have possible predicted back then and I’m at some sort of a loss to explain it, except to state the obvious and say something has gone wrong.
Whatever the outcome of those three yet-to-arrive prospects, Huggins is going to have to use his freshmen on campus in some capacity now, though he maintains that was always the case, never mind Murray’s status.
“Devin was going to be if not the best rebounder, then the second-best rebounder, regardless of who was here and who wasn’t here,” Huggins said. “I think the phrase now is Nathan is a stretch 4 (power forward). He’s a pick-and-pop guy. Brandon is more of a guy who needs to fly around to block shots, rebound the ball and run like crazy – he can run.”
Now, let’s not overdramatize Murray’s exit. It’s frankly less of a surprise than that he was welcomed back for his senior season. You didn’t need to be a psychologist or even John Higgins to know Murray was conflicted and unable to control things, be they truancy as a kid, blowups at La Salle, an arrest while sitting out at WVU, practice lethargy under Huggins, wildly inconsistent play on the floor, technical fouls for no good reason or ultimately the failure to make the most of a second second chance.
His exit nevertheless bothers people, including former teammate Keaton Miles, who we must remember was compelled to transfer once Holton and Dibo signed. In since-deleted tweets, Miles sounded yesterday like somebody who wasn’t pleased with what had happened to Murray.
His former teammate, Keaton Miles, who recently left WVU and transferred to Arkansas, put out a couple of tweets following the announcement that Murray was leaving: “My Brother Is Not A Bad Person At All Just A Young Man That Needs Guidance, One-On-One Guidance To Get The Most Out Of His Potential,” read one.
“I’m P—-d My Brother Just Needed Help…Cried Out For Help Numerous Times & Everyone Knew It But People Turned Their Heads The Other Way,” read the other.