MORGANTOWN — It took all of one sentence Monday from the West Virginia athletics department to take a West Virginia basketball season that was already one of the worst in the Bob Huggins era and make it seem entirely hopeless.
“West Virginia University men’s basketball senior Esa Ahmad and junior Wesley Harris have been dismissed from the team for a violation of athletic department policies.”
No other information was provided in the news release, though the sports-information department confirmed to The Dominion Post that both players remain enrolled in school.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was unavailable for comment.
What it means for the Mountaineers (10-14, 2-9 Big 12) is they will travel to No. 14 Kansas on Saturday without four starters who opened the season.
Ahmad was averaging a team-high 28 minutes per game, while Harris was next with 25.
Ahmad, who served a 16-game suspension last season for failing to meet NCAA eligibility requirements, was the team’s third-leading scorer at 12 points per game this season. A four-year starter, Ahmad finishes his career with 1,039 points and 487 rebounds.
Harris started 54 games over his two seasons and averaged 7.9 points this season. Long and agile, he built a reputation of being the team’s top perimeter defender.
During interviews last Friday, when asked which WVU player commanded the respect of teammates, Huggins responded, “Probably Wes.”
Harris still faces battery charges from last July in which the 6-foot-7 junior allegedly broke the nose of another motorist during an altercation on Jones Avenue.
If convicted, Harris faces up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.
Harris also received a public reprimand from the Big 12 last season, after attempting to punch a Texas Tech student who rushed the court following a game in Lubbock.
West Virginia is currently without the services of junior guard James “Beetle” Bolden (ankle) and junior center Sagaba Konate (knee), who are out with injuries.
The Mountaineers will travel to Kansas with only nine scholarship players available, and that group is averaging a combined 26.4 points per game this season.
Of those nine scholarship players, five are freshmen and seven are in their first collegiate season.
Only juniors Chase Harler and Lamont West remain as scholarship players who have more than one season under their belts.
The Mountaineers are already in last place in the Big 12 and have yet to win a road game this season.
After traveling to Kansas on Saturday, WVU will return home to face Kansas State, which sits at the top of the Big 12 standings.