With just two scholarships available in the upcoming recruiting class, WVU must hit home runs in their recruiting efforts for this year's class. While that's a given for any year's efforts, its even more important for the upcoming class for two reasons. One is that with just two scholarships open, the Mountaineer coaching staff wants to be sure that it gets a pair of players that fit the program. The second is the growing belief that WVU could be primed for another deep NCAA tournament run in 2013 – perhaps matching or equaling its Final Four appearance in 2010.
While projecting outcomes for next year's season when the current slate is still two months away might seem to be the ultimate in fantasy projection, a look at West Virginia's current roster state puts some weight behind that observation. Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant will depart after this year, and those losses won't be small. However, the Mountaineers will boast a returning list of seven freshmen, all of whom will either start, play or see appreciable time this year. Add in transfers Juwan Staten and Aaric Murray (how he didn't make the 19 and under U.S. National team is a puzzler) and the Mountaineers will be well-stocked at every position save one – shooting guard. Thus, the priority in this year's class will be to add a shooter that can complement what promises to be a deep roster of point guards, forwards and centers in 2012.
At the point, WVU will have Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne. Staten will also jump in to compete for time. Aaron Brown projects to develop into a lockdown defender, while Keaton Miles and Tommie McCune should be smooth, athletic wings. Need more bulk? Put Murray, Dominique Rutledge and Deniz Kilicli on the floor. Throw in a different set of skills with Kevin Noreen and Pat Forsythe, and West Virginia will be as fully and deeply stocked with talent as it has ever been under Bob Huggins – in fact, it might be one of the deeper squads in the history of the WVU Coliseum.
However, there's one missing piece to the puzzle – another shooting guard. That will be the priority in this year's class, and the Mountaineers are chasing several prospects who could help put them over the top. Andrew White and Terry Henderson, who come from opposite end of the notoriety scale, are two players who would fill the gap the Mountaineers have at that position. White has been highly regarded for some time, playing for Team Loaded in AAU play and attracting numerous offers from across the country. Henderson, who plays for tiny Neuse Christian Academy in Raleigh, flew under the radar for much of his career, but is now attracting more offers befitting the 2,000 points he has scored at the school prior to his senior year. He has reportedly narrowed his choices to West Virginia and Maryland.
Snaring a shooting guard would also allow WVU to pursue the "best available" player to complement next year's class. A prospect such as Anthony Bennett and Zach Auguste would provide a stellar complement to the needed shooting guard and put WVU in prime position to contend for national honors in 2012-13.
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A bit further out on the horizon, West Virginia is also looking at prospects in the class after the current one. A number of talented juniors are on WVU's radar screen, with the emphasis being on big men. The Mountaineers will host a handful of these players on unofficial visits for this weekend's Marshall game, and we'll have more on those players soon.