By Allan Taylor
MORGANTOWN — WVU basketball signee Jermaine Haley wants to correct the recruiting sites that list the guard at 6-foot-7.
“I keep hearing you guys say I’m 6-7, but I’m 6-8, and I’m closer to the 6-9 side,” he said May 1, during an appearance on MetroNews “Sportsline” with Tony Caridi.
An inch either way won’t diminish the fact that Haley brings much-needed length to a backcourt featuring sub-6-foot point guards James “Beetle” Bolden, Brandon Knapper and Jordan McCabe. Haley’s signing also provides rotational options for the Mountaineers’ staff next season.
“I’m a pass-first, pass-second point guard,” Haley said. “I think I’m most effective with the ball in my hands and controlling everything. That’s what I’ve been taught to do and how I’ve been taught to play.”
With WVU defined by its trapping, full-court press, Haley’s length gives him the ability to defend four spots.
“I like the style of play, really,” he said. “Me being a big guard, I love to play defense. And I know that’s exactly what these guys needed — another long wing to get out there and play some defense.”
Haley is the fifth signee in the 2018 class as the Mountaineers continue the trajectory of a program that averaged more than 26 wins the last four seasons while making three Sweet 16 trips.
“These guys, they work hard, they play hard and they like to win,” he said.
NEW STRENGTH COACH
WVU’s new basketball strength and conditioning coach, Shaun Brown, raves about the school’s practice facilities, but it was the legendary coach at the top, Bob Huggins, who made the move attractive.
“As you coach and do this longer and longer, the people you work for are probably the most important aspect, and where that takes you is where that takes you,” Brown said. “If it’s Los Angeles, if it’s Miami or if it’s Morgantown is kind of irrelevant to the profession we’re in. It’s the opportunity to work for the folks you want to be around, and obviously, coach Huggins is that type of guy.”
Brown previously worked under Rick Pitino, at Kentucky and with the Boston Celtics. He also was hired by Rick Barnes, at Providence; Tony Bennett, at Virginia; and Richard Pitino, at Minnesota.
Appearing on Metro-News “Sportsline,” Brown said he’s replacing “the best strength coach in the country” as Andy Kettler relocates to Louisville. Kettler’s stamp was apparent on WVU’s players over the last decade, so he and Brown are planning to smooth the transition.
After meeting a few players during last week’s visit to Morgantown, Brown said, “I’m going to have to earn their respect and they’re going to have to earn mine.”
The intensity required to make “Press Virginia” effective certainly clarifies the offseason mission.
“It’s a system you can really plan on preparing for as you set up a training cycle for 12 months,” Brown said. “It becomes harder for guys in my profession to set goals and pinpoint for your athletes where they need to be when you are a flavor-of-the-month defensively.”