by Jim Buzzerd
In closing last week I mentioned that West Virginia University freshman basketball player, Oscar Tshiebwe, was testing the waters by declaring himself eligible for the NBA draft. Head coach Bob Huggins expected that announcement and it was never thought that the rising sophomore was leaving; that he was only seeking a formal evaluation from the NBA. On Sunday Tshiebwe made his return to the Mountaineers for his sophomore season official with a tweet on Twitter.
“I would like to thank the WVU basketball coaching staff, my family and the NBA Advisory Committee for the guidance and the information provided to me during the evaluation period,” Tshiebwe said. “As I always mentioned, I would be at WVU for my sophomore season, but I wanted to gain knowledge from the NBA on the process and my standing with the NBA. I was very pleased to receive my evaluation, which was actually higher than my expectations, but not at the level that meets my goal. I am confident with another year at WVU that our goals as a team and as an individual will be achieved.
“In today’s environment with the uncertainty of individual workouts or having a combine, I do not believe it is in my best interest to enter the 2020 NBA Draft. Let’s Go Mountaineers! We are going for championships next year — the work has already begun.”
Tshiebwe started all 31 games in his freshman season with the Mountaineers, averaging a team-best 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He was a unanimous selection to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team and he was a second-team all-conference pick.
Tshiebwe’s return means the Mountaineers will welcome back their top three scorers next season, alongside Derek Culver, 10.4 PPG and Miles McBride, 9.5 PPG.
Brandon Knapper has transferred, but everyone else that was eligible to return is expected to return. Jermaine Haley, Chase Harler and Logan Routt have run out of eligibility, but Culver, Jordan McCabe, Emmitt Matthews, McBride, Sean McNeil, Gabe Osabuohien, Taz Sherman and Oscar all return. You can add redshirt Jalen Bridges to the mix for next season as well.
Huggins inferred several times during last season that Bridges would have been on the court had he not opted to redshirt. That would have made an already hard to manage rotation even more complicated. Things look similar for next season as well with three incoming freshmen expected to be able to vie for playing time. They are 6-4 guard Kedrian Johnson, 6-7 forward Taj Thweatt and 6-11 forward Isaiah Cottrell.