By this time, most college basketball fans have heard of Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks, the two West Virginia forwards who were preseason All-Big East selections. But in their first eight games of the 2009 season, another player has burst onto the scene for the No. 6 Mountaineers.
Last season, Kevin Jones was one of Bob Huggins' most reliable players off the bench, averaging 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in just under 20 minutes per game. But in the offseason, the Mount Vernon, NY native added 35 pounds to his 6'8" frame and came into this season at 250 pounds, solidifying himself as the potential low-post presence that WVU needed.
All season, Jones has been one of the most consistent players for the Mountaineers. He is the only player on the team to reach double figure scoring numbers in every game this season, and has led the team in rebounding in four games.
Though he has been one of their main threats down low this year, "KJ" is able to do a lot of his damage with his solid midrange game.
"I feel more confident this year with the shots that I wouldn't have taken last year;" Jones said. "My teammates and coaches have confidence in me to just go out there and play."
That confidence in his shot has definitely shown as Jones is leading the team in field goal percentage, making 58.5 percent of his shots.
Jones continues to improve every game and in the Mountaineer's 80-78 nail-biter against Cleveland State, the sophomore achieved another career-high with 23 points.
With the starting frontcourt of Jones, Butler, and Wellington Smith, as well as Ebanks, John Flowers, Danny Jennings, and Cam Thoroughman coming off the bench, WVU has one of the most talented and versatile groups of forwards in the country.
This versatility will be needed as the Mountaineers prepare for future match-ups against Purdue, Ohio State, and their Big East schedule.
At this point however, this talent and versatility hasn't always led to the team playing as well as they should against the competition they've played so far. "This isn't anywhere near our best basketball." Jones said. "Our best basketball is coming up soon."
I'm trying to get questions from readers to start a Carvelli's Corner WVU Mailbag column, so if there are any questions you have on the Mountaineers, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll hope to have that posted as soon as I can.