Men's Basketball, WVU Sports

Sean McNeil’s versatile offensive game making a difference for West Virginia

If you ever wondered what the definition of a catch-and-shoot guy is, Sean McNeil’s stats from last season provide a perfect example.

The WVU guard attempted 291 shots last season with 61% of those being 3-pointers.

Nearly 60% of every basket McNeil made last season was from behind the arc.

That is how you build a reputation as being a catch-and-shoot guy.


Except McNeil is bucking that trend early on this season and it has made a noticeable difference for the Mountaineers (4-1).

While shooting with a higher success rate from the floor — McNeil made 40.9% last season and is at 42.9% this season — the senior is showing off a more versatile offensive game.

Take the final 14 minutes of the Mountaineers 66-59 victory against Clemson.

McNeil scored all 15 of his points during that time and only one of his shots was a 3-pointer.

What happened over the first 26 minutes?

“He was kind of stagnant, we all were,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “We were all waiting on Taz (Sherman) to score the ball.”

Then came a barrage of shots from McNeil that included him driving the ball to the basket or taking in a pass with his back to the basket and turning it into a 12-foot bank shot or pulling up at the top of the key for a long two-pointer.

Even his one 3-pointer came off the dribble when he took a handoff from Gabe Osabouhien and kept dribbling around the perimeter before he pulled up and hit the shot.

These are not catch-and-shoot-type plays.

“That was something I worked very hard on in the offseason,” said McNeil, who put his name in the 2021 NBA Draft to receive some feedback, before opting out and returning to school. “A lot of the feedback I received was about being able to do other things on the floor than just shooting. I knew I had to add to my game.”

The work shows. Most of his shots are no longer from behind the arc and while his 10 threes lead the team, he’s made 14 shots in two-point range.

“I think that’s something he really needs to do,” Huggins said. “He’s a guy who wants to continue to play when he’s done here, so he’s got to be more than just a catch-and-shoot guy. He’s got to be able to score it off the bounce and be able to use screens. He’s got to be able to score in multiple ways so he’s harder to guard.”

In Friday’s game against Eastern Kentucky (5-1), it will actually be the Mountaineers’ ability to defend the 3-point shot that will come into play.

The Colonels — out of the ASUN Conference — make an average of 13 threes a game, while forcing opponents to turn the ball over 20 times per game.

Eastern Kentucky averages 85 points per game and has four players who have already reached double figures in 3-pointers made this season.

“They’re going to press and shoot a bunch of threes,” Huggins said. “They want to play fast and turn you over and they want to shoot threes.”

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WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: WVU Coliseum
TV: ESPN+ (online subscription only)