Men's Basketball, WVU Sports

Jesse Edwards will practice, but status against UCF will be a game-time decision

MORGANTOWN — Josh Eilert listed the status of WVU center Jesse Edwards as day-to-day on Monday, meaning the full potential of the Mountaineers’ lineup is the same.

Edwards could see action in Orlando at 7 p.m. Tuesday, as WVU (7-11, 2-3 Big 12) travels to UCF for the first time with both schools being Big 12 members.

Or Eilert may choose to rest Edwards another game, as he recovers from surgery on his right wrist.


“We’re getting closer to having a complete roster,” Eilert said during a Zoom call. “It’s a day-by-day situation with Jesse. We’re trending in the right direction and we have to keep that momentum going.
“It’s a fluid situation. I’m not sure if he’ll play (Tuesday) or not.”

WVU’s 6-foot-11 center will continue to practice and will likely be in uniform for today’s game.

That was the situation last week, as WVU knocked off then-No. 3 Kansas.

“We say he practiced, but he did very limited five-on-five,” Eilert said. “He was there and active, but we have to be careful with it. We have to make sure we’re not pushing him too fast.

“He warmed up against Kansas and it wasn’t far-fetched that we could have thrown him in there at any given point if we got desperate. I have to be smart with him. It’s my responsibility to do the best thing by our guys.”

The continued emergence of Pat Suemnick may make Eilert’s decision easier. Suemnick scored 20 points against Kansas and is averaging just under 12 points over his last five games.

Or Eilert could go for the gusto. It would be hard to blame him, as the Mountaineers have gone more than two months with only bits and pieces of its roster available for every game.

Edwards’ return could move Suemnick over to power forward with a guard rotation of Kerr Kriisa, RaeQuan Battle and Kobe Johnson, while Quinn Slazinski and Noah Farrakhan come off the bench.

That WVU lineup has been only a theory to this point, one that’s been seen by a select few in workouts over the summer.

“I’ve seen it in preseason practices,” Eilert said. “I’ve seen the combination of Kerr and Rae and Jesse and other complimentary pieces with them. I was very excited about those guys playing. I’ve seen them together. It’s a special unit when you get all of those guys together.”

And WVU is running out of time. Although just two games back in the Big 12 standings — as is UCF (11-6, 2-3) — the Mountaineers have dug themselves a hole that won’t be filled by simply hanging around in the league standings.

Their wins against Texas and Kansas are already likely offset by the earlier nonconference losses to Radford and Monmouth.

WVU needs a winning streak just to get back to .500, which is still a long stretch for any postseason other than the NIT.

Getting Edwards back in the mix would look good on paper, but Eilert knows there is a transition stage of once again getting everyone on the same page as a new face enters the rotation.

“Hopefully it’s a smoother transition,” Eilert said. “Credit to Pat Suemnick, who has done an absolute phenomenal job, especially in the last three or four games. He filled that void for us.”


WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Addition Financial Arena, Orlando
TV: ESPN+ (Online subscription needed)