by Jim Buzzerd
Players leaving the West Virginia University football and basketball programs have been discussed here often. Today, I’ll drop in a few notes about basketball coach Bob Huggins’ effort in the transfer portal. Before that, I want to mention football transfer JT Daniels. Of course Daniels, the former starting quarterback at Georgia, has received plenty of mention in this space, I did see something over the weekend that caught my attention.
Caesars Sportsbook unveiled its newest edition Friday afternoon, and, among the expected names like Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young, Caesars lists West Virginia quarterback JT Daniels as one of the players with odds to take home the sport’s most illustrious individual prize, the Heisman Trophy. Caesars gives Daniels +3000 odds which means a $100 bet would win $3000. Five other quarterbacks have better odds to win the Heisman, but it’s good to see a WVU quarterback on a prestigious list.
Last season it seemed, at times, that the West Virginia basketball team was adversely affected by the transfer portal. The players who Huggins and staff brought in came nowhere near replacing the talent they were replacing. The WVU staff stepped up their efforts this offseason and have brought in four players from the portal that played on Power Five teams last season.
Of course, there are no guarantees, but the latest addition to the Mountaineer basketball team could be the most talented. Huggins has signed former Longhorn Tre Mitchell. Some outlets had Mitchell as high as No. 2 in the transfer portal rankings last year. Was he the second-best player in the transfer portal last year? Probably not. But that ceiling is still definitely attainable. Things didn’t pan out at Texas, but there are many opinions out there that the 6-9, 220 Mitchell can hit his stride with Huggins.
The transfer portal is in it’s infancy, but it is rare (as far as I know) for a player to transfer away for a season, then return to his original school. That’s what happened with former Mountaineer, Emmitt Matthews, who will return to Morgantown next season from Washington. At Washington Matthews had his best season to date, starting all 31 games he played, playing a career-best 32 minutes per game and posting new highs for scoring (11.7), rebounding (4.7), field-goal percentage (43.4) and 3-point percentage (33.6). In three seasons with the Mountaineers, Matthews averaged 21 minutes and 6.4 points and 3.5 rebounds and shot 40.2 percent from the floor and 28.2 percent from 3-point range.
West Virginia has signed former Iowa point guard, 6-0, 170, Joe Toussaint known more for defense and assists than he is scoring. The fourth piece to the rebuild is former South Carolina swing guard Erik Stevenson. The 6-4 Stevenson averaged 11.6 points per game shooting pedestrian 37% from two and 33% from three. WVU may want to get the Gamecock transfer to the foul line often where he was 61 of 62 last season, or 98%.