Lucky Rudd set to make West Virginia debut

MORGANTOWN — The West Virginia women’s basketball team is about to get lucky.

More to the point, the Mountaineers (5-2) are about to get North Carolina State transfer Lucky Rudd into their lineup.

With the conclusion of final exams on Friday, Rudd will be eligible to play for the Mountaineers at 4 p.m. Saturday, when they play Eastern Kentucky (1-8), at the Charleston Civic Center.

“It gives us another guard off the bench,” West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. “I think she plays as good as defense as anybody as we have on the team, so that’s good. She can shoot the three and she’s a team player, so we’re excited about her starting.”

Rudd is the daughter of former NBA player Delaney Rudd, who played four seasons in the NBA with Utah and Portland.

She started nine games as a sophomore at N.C. State and averaged 6.5 points per game, before transferring to West Virginia mid-semester.

She appeared in 20 games as a freshman and scored 2.2 points per game.

Coming out of Forest Trail Academy (Kernersville, N.C.), she was a four-star prospect ranked the No. 78 overall national recruit in the 2016 high school class.

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Rudd had to sit out the second semester last season and the first semester this season before becoming eligible.

Carey already has his plan built on how to use her.

“I made her pick up her intensity, because I kept telling her it was time to step it up,” Carey said. “I think she’s going to be nervous. I think what I’ll do is put her in right away and let her throw the ball away about four times and then get her out and then put her back in and she’ll be fine.

“She’s going to be really nervous. She hasn’t played for a year. We’ll get her in early and let her get the jitters out.”

More than anything else, Rudd’s availability is crucial for a West Virginia team that is battling depth issues.

“She can add scoring and she’s so fast,” West Virginia guard Tynice Martin said. “She can stop the ball on defense and she’s a good defender. We’re looking for somebody who can come off the bench and play some good minutes.”

Four of the Mountaineers starters — Martin, Kysre Gondrezick, Naomi Davenport and Katrina Pardee — are playing more than 30 minutes per game.

Freshman Kari Niblack and senior Theresa Ekhelar have split time at center and freshman point guard Madisen Smith is playing 27 minutes per game, giving the Mountaineers a regular rotation of just seven players.

Rudd’s play could be crucial in helping to keep West Virginia guards fresh throughout the conference season, which begins in less than three weeks.

“Coach Carey has been hard on her lately to get her ready,” Martin said. “She’s coming in right when we stop non-conference play and go straight into conference play.

“People coming in and actually being able to produce, that could be a big game-changer for us.”

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