Sometimes you just know when a recruiting class has the chance to be something special for a program.
Take, for instance, West Virginia’s 2008 class, Bob Huggins’ first full class with the Mountaineers. With Devin Ebanks, Darryl “Truck” Bryant and Kevin Jones, most fans knew that they would be able to come in and contribute quality minutes, in some way, right off the bat.
They might not have been stars right away, but they would help a lot.
Fast forward a couple of years and Ebanks is already in the NBA, Truck has been the starting point guard for two years and KJ is one of the emerging stars in the Big East. Oh, and I almost forgot, all three were vital parts in West Virginia’s Final Four run last March.
And then there are some classes that you have no idea how they’re going to pan out and how long it will take for the recruits to play a significant role on the team.
Which brings me to the Mountaineers 2010 recruiting class.
After losing several big name, blue-chip prospects like Tobias Harris, Adreian Payne, and Doron Lamb to bigger, more prestigious programs (Tennessee, Michigan State, Kentucky), this year’s class has been looked at by a lot of fans as a bit of a disappointment.
Leading the class of four players is in-state product, Noah Cottrill.
The 6’3″ point guard from Logan High School (WV) is the No. 21 ranked point guard in the country according to Rivals, and is ranked in the top 100 players overall.
Out of all the players in this class, Cottrill might be the one who is the most ready to play right now. But with all of his talent, he has a lot of things that could hold him back once he gets to the next level.
I’ve only watched him a few times, but I think that’s enough to see some things that I like and some stuff that I don’t like.
First off, he is a lights out shooter.
In a game against Findlay Prep while he was still a member of Mountain State Academy in his junior season, he brought the ball up the floor and pulled up from WELL beyond NBA range to knock down a 3-pointer on more than one occasion .
With outside shooting being something that this Mountaineer team could struggle at, that’s Cottrill could find his way into the rotation.
Another thing I noticed that could be a little bit of a good and bad thing is that he is a great ball handler, and has the ability to make some great highlight reel passes.
Now when you first read that, you might think, “What’s so bad about that?”
Well, sometimes when he makes a couple of those impressive plays, his cockiness and attitude (which are two things that I absolutely LOVE to see in a point guard) take control and he’ll make a couple of dumb choices with the basketball.
That is something that should be taken care of pretty quickly, especially once WVU gets into Big East play. He’ll have to learn to play smart 24/7 or he’ll be on the bench.
That occasional decision-making problem is one of the only big knocks that you can find in Cottrill’s game. When you combine his shooting ability with his confidence and toughness, you can start drawing comparisons to Truck Bryant.
Overall, I think that once you think about all the depth that the Mountaineers have at the point (Bryant and Joe Mazzulla), Cottrill could have a tough time contributing a lot of quality minutes in his freshman season. But once Mazzulla leaves, it should give him his chance to come in and play a lot, spelling Truck for 15 minutes a game or so.
The next two recruits to commit to the program are looked at as two of the biggest enigmas that the program has had since Huggins has taken over in Morgantown.
Just a year after picking up two big men who needed a decent amount of work on their game, the Mountaineers got another big project in the form of seven-foot Sudan native David Nyarsuk .
A graduate of Mountain State Academy in Beckley, Nyarsuk can run the floor well for a man of his size and is pretty good on the offensive end.
According to many people around the WVU basketball program, he is also a great defensive weapon, especially when it comes to blocking and changing shots. But he might want to add a little bit of weight to his 230-pound frame if he wants to try to become a better rebounder.
If I had to make a comparison to Nyarsuk, considering how raw he is and what his skillset is, I would have to say that he’s a good bit like former UConn star Hasheem Thabeet.
Although, I honestly don’t see him doing much in a Mountaineer uniform, I really hope I’m wrong because it would be amazing to have a big inside presence like the Huskies had in Thabeet for a few years.
Once the Mountaineers suffered the loss of Da’Sean Butler, Wellington Smith and Devin Ebanks, the biggest need staring WVU in the eyes was that of a skilled wing player that can slash and hit the outside shot.
After looking for a long time for someone to fill that need, they finally got their guy after Darrious Curry de - committed from UTEP and signed with the Mountaineers shortly after.
Curry, an athletic 6’7″ forward out of Houston, Tex., has a build that reminds a lot of people of Butler (who was also an unheralded player coming out of high school). He was brought in because of his long-range shooting and has range way beyond the three-point line. Curry has also said that he is continuing to improve on his ability to drive and get to the rack.
Depending on how well he can do at learning the system and improving as the season gets closer, Curry could find himself getting a little bit of playing time based on the need that the team will have for a threat on the wing.
The last player to sign in this year’s recruiting class could possibly be the one with the most potential and upside.
Minnesota’s Gatorade Player of the Year, Kevin Noreen , asked to be released from his letter-of-intent to play at Boston College after former head coach Al Skinner stepped down. After a visit to Morgantown, he knew that WVU was where he wanted to be.
At 6’10″ he gives the Mountaineers another guy who can be of help down in the post, but when you factor in his ability to shoot on the perimeter, he can almost play the three or the four (think Wellington Smith).
If his high school career is any indication of how good he can be at the college level, West Virginia fans should be absolutely giddy about how good Noreen can be.
While at Minnesota Transitions School, Noreen scored 4,000 points over the course of his high school career and had a senior season in which he averaged a jaw-dropping stat line of 38.6 points, 16.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 3.9 steals and 3.2 blocks per game.
Now, wouldn’t it be nice if he could do anything close to that once he gets to Morgantown?
Shortly after Noreen committed to play at WVU, Mountaineer assistant Larry Harrison compared his style of play to that of former Mountaineer shooting guard Alex Ruoff because of his versatile skill set and ability to do a little bit of everything.
The 2010 recruiting class definitely turned out to be a different one than many Mountaineer fans might have wished to see. But if these players can pan out the way that they have the potential to, coach Huggins and his team should be able to continue having great success.
Who knows? Maybe another trip to the Final Four could be in order within the next few seasons.
You can see this and more of my columns in the future on my new blog, The View From My Couch .
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