Carter takes his place among the finest of Mountaineers heroes

It would be no more fair to ask you to rank a WVU men’s basketball grouping of Da’Sean Butler, Kevin Jones, Alex Ruoff and Jevon Carter than it would to rank your own kids.

Instead, we honor them for their accomplishments and what they have meant to a team, a school and a state.

Their similarities go much further than the records they hold at WVU or the NCAA tournament games they played in.

At their very best, they all led, and they all needed help along the way from teammates to shine.

They got the job done in the classroom and represented themselves and their families extremely well.

None of them were mega stars. None of them did it on their own. Instead, they were a product of work ethic, belief, and the ability to go out and play every game with a little bit of a chip on their collective shoulders.

“I’ve never had anybody work the way this guy here works,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said of Carter after the Mountaineers’ 90-78 loss against Villanova on Friday, in the Sweet 16. “Never have had anybody to put the time in that he’s put in. He deserves a better ending, I think.”

Unfortunately, that’s the harshness they all share, too.

Carter’s brilliant career ended in a fourth consecutive NCAA tournament and in a third

Sweet 16 in what was a continual moment when the Mountaineers couldn’t get over that hump.

That moment joins Butler blowing out his knee in his final game, against Duke, in the 2010 Final Four, and Jones being nearly helpless against a talented Gonzaga team, and Ruoff being shocked by an over-achieving Dayton.

Their achievements mean more. Ruoff helped transition WVU from John Beilein’s underdog mentality to becoming a force in the Big East.

Butler and Jones took it from there and turned WVU into a perennial top 25 program.

Along the way, the Syracuses and Connecticuts of the Big East world no longer seemed like they were on a pedestal looking down at WVU.

You can associate steals and defense with Carter all you want, but the way he played a major role in helping WVU transition to the Big 12 may be his biggest feat in a WVU uniform.

“We were struggling,” Huggins said. “I underestimated the switch from the Big East and how they played in the Big East to the Big 12, and we had the wrong kind of guys.”

Carter and his teammates over the last four seasons were the right kind of guys.

And again, Kansas was, at one time, probably considered up on mountain high, and any kind of success against the Jayhawks was considered an achievement.

Now, it’s simply another Big Monday whenever the Mountaineers beat Kansas and no longer an oh-my-God-did-that-just-happen kind of moment.

That is Carter. Well, that’s not all on Carter — and he would be the first to say that — but that is a portion of his legacy here.

In the end, Carter did deserve better, as did all of those guys.

One last comparison: They all left WVU in a better place than they found it, which is outstanding on their part.

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