Sports, Women's Basketball, WVU Sports

Lauren Fields has felt success against WVU; now playing her final season in Morgantown

MORGANTOWN — If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right? That’s the saying.

Well, WVU women’s basketball guard Lauren Fields blew that thinking right out of the water in April, when she signed to play this season with the Mountaineers.

Fields, a 5-foot-9 guard from Shawnee, Okla., has already beaten WVU, doing so in March when Arizona knocked the Mountaineers out of the NCAA tournament with a 75-62 victory.

Now she’s joining WVU in her final season of eligibility, having signed with new head coach Mark Kellogg and his staff.

“Over the summer, I thought a lot about that question, is it going to be weird when I get there?” Fields said Wednesday. “Honestly, the transition has been real smooth.”

She admits there’s been a few jokes made about the situation, but her WVU teammates have welcomed her with open arms.

“It’s been good for me,” Fields said. “A large reason for that has been my teammates. They’ve made me feel welcomed. Honestly, they’ve made me feel like I’ve played here for all five years.”

If Fields’ name sounds familiar, it should. Prior to her one season at Arizona, she played three seasons at Oklahoma State.

OSU went 3-4 against WVU during Fields’ career there, although she missed one of the matchups with an injury.

Her career at Oklahoma State saw her have her best individual season in 2021-22, when she averaged 15.4 points per game to finish second team all-Big 12.

It’s that exact version of Fields that Kellogg wants to see in Morgantown this season.

“She’s a wing who can shoot the three and put it on the floor,” Kellogg said. “She’s pretty good at the mid-range, too, which is kind of a lost art. She’s a phenomenal defender. She is active, active, active on the defensive end. She’s pretty complete right now.”

How Kellogg was able to sign Fields out of the transfer portal is a story of having good connections.

WVU assistant coach Erin Grant was an assistant at Arizona last season, while WVU assistant coach Jessica Grayson coached Fields at Oklahoma State.

WVU guard Zya Nugent was also an AAU teammate with Fields when they were both in high school.

“We had two coaches who had coached her and a teammate who was her teammate at one point,” Kellogg said. “We had some connections, but she was one of the first ones we recruited.”

WVU’s affiliation with the Big 12 didn’t hurt, either.

“I’m from Oklahoma, so it was hard for family to come out and see me play in Arizona,” Fields said. “(WVU), being in the Big 12 we’ll play games closer to home. I know the play in the Big 12. This is my last year, so I wanted to make the best of it, so being back in the Big 12 was a part of it.”

By most accounts, Fields has developed into one of the Mountaineers’ top scoring threats along with guard J.J. Quinerly.

She did struggle with her shot at Arizona, though, shooting just 28% from the field, the lowest since her freshman season.

“She’s been really good,” Kellogg said. “She’s a fantastic kid. She’s quiet, but not a bad quiet. Her and Jordan (Harrison) have been working pretty well together when they’re on the same team. I think she’s going to have her best year. I don’t know if she’ll average 15 points like she did at Oklahoma State, but her efficiency is going to go up. She still scores the ball pretty well. She’ll have some big nights.”

Kellogg said Quinerly injured her ankle in practice and was forced to sit out both of the team’s closed-door scrimmages.

“She’s coming back from that injury,” Kellogg said. “We think she’ll be available next Tuesday. She’s missed a little bit of time, but the expectation is she’ll be back here pretty soon.”

Quinerly was a first-team all-Big 12 player last season, averaging 14.5 points per game.

TWEET @DomPostSports