Better Late Than Never

JAbarie Hinds

West Virginia's situation at point guard may have looked bleak a couple of weeks ago, but now things are better -- as least as much as a pair of freshmen can make them.

Earlier this summer, incoming point guard Jabarie Hinds learned of an issue with his initial qualifying standards, putting his participation in at least a bit of doubt. That was followed by the last minute pull of Gary Browne from West Virginia's trip to Europe, leaving the Mountaineers with just senior Darryl Bryant at the point.

Browne's situation was quickly cleared up, although it did cost him a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Hinds situation took longer, but as predicted by head coach Bob Huggins, he too passed muster with the NCAA Eligibility Center and is now cleared to play this fall.

The twin approvals put the Mountaineers in a much better situation in the backcourt, although they will still be searching for a shooter as they work through a massive rebuilding job. They'll also have to bring Hinds and Browne along quickly if Bryant is to play the majority of his minutes at the second guard spot.

As Huggins points out, many of the duties of the point guard and shooting guard are interchangeable. Both have to be able to start the offense, and both have to be able to handle the ball against pressure -- something WVU is sure to see with so many freshmen in the backcourt. Bryant will be able to help in that regard, but its clear that Huggins wants to be able to play him at the two the majority of the time. For that to happen, both Hinds and Browne need as much practice time as possible -- and the loss of the 15 or so extra sessions prior to the season could set them back in their progression.

Still, today's announcement means the Mountaineers will have the full roster they anticipated after signing day -- just a little later than they anticipated. The focus will now turn to growth -- how rapidly can this collection of returnees and newcomers progress into a team?

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