Men's Basketball, WVU Sports

WVU’s young core beginning to gain valuable hoops experience

MORGANTOWN — By most accounts, Albert Einstein never needed a basketball to come up with his theory of relativity and he certainly never suited up for a college basketball game.

But, leave it to the it the genius physicist to sum up what the WVU men’s basketball team could use the most when it comes to its young core of players.

“Information is not knowledge,” Einstein said. “The only source of knowledge is experience. You need experience to gain wisdom.”

With that in mind, we give you the Mountaineers’ collection of sophomores in Kobe Johnson, Seth Wilson, James Okonkwo and Jamel King.

If you took every single minute of action they played collectively as freshmen and then doubled it, it still fell short of what Taz Sherman played last season.

That, one could say, is a severe lack of experience.

Even so, we rewind back to last season, a season those players would rather forget.

“Naturally you want to win,” Wilson said. “It was tough going through that last year. This year, that’s the focus. It doesn’t matter individually what we do. It just a matter of if the team wins. That’s what we all want to do is just win.”

So, it’s late in the season and WVU head coach Bob Huggins knows the team is at a crossroads, yet he also knows there is the future of the program to ponder.

Before a practice, Huggins took those four aside and spoke to them about the importance of overcoming adversity and sticking together.

In short, there was a bigger picture to be looked at.

“I think all four of us saw it,” Johnson said. “I think we all saw the same vision.”

And so it’s a year later and a new season has begun. It started with Monday night’s 76-58 victory against Mount St. Mary’s.

Johnson started as part of the Mountaineers’ three-guard look along with Kedrian Johnson and Erik Stevenson.

Wilson got WVU (1-0) out of a first-half funk with seven quick points off the bench and Okonkwo put on a defensive display of blocked shots in the second half that could spawn comparisons to former standout Sagaba Konate.

Of the four, only King did not see action in the opener.

He played just three minutes in the exhibition win against Bowling Green and appears buried on a depth chart that will only get deeper once Manhattan transfer Jose Perez is enrolled.

Still, they are a group that is close-knit and have become stronger through facing adversity.

“We try to stay together and link up outside of basketball,” said Johnson, who had four points on 2 of 2 shooting against Mount St. Mary’s. “We’re always playing video games together. We talk all the time. I feel like we’re a great group. If we stay together, we’ll bring some good here.”

Up next is a road rivalry game at Pitt on Friday.

Johnson is the only one of the four who played against the Panthers (1-0) last season. Wilson missed the game due to a death in his family.

Whatever happens, it’ll be another important step in their development.

“If you’re a competitor, you’re going to go the direction of, ‘Hey, let’s fix this. Let’s don’t do what happened before,’ ” Huggns said. “I think they’ve done that. If you watch practice, those are the guys who are always in the front of the line and kind of stand out with their competitiveness.”

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