With just two scholarships to offer in the upcoming 2012 class, West Virginia's basketball staff is also looking to the future. A number of underclassmen have been viewed and observed during the July open evaluation period as the Mountaineer coaching staff builds its teams of the future.
In addition to players we've profiled in the past week, a number of other players have been showing their skills at AAU events across the country, including the recent West Virginia Jam Fest. Here are observations on more of those players from the summer scene:
Devin Williams: A big post player who features relentless work on the glass, Williams is the sort of tough competitor that would be a great fit for Bob Huggins. He works hard on both ends in the paint, and gets out in transition and runs the court very well, even handling the ball a couple of times in the open floor. He posts up well on the offensive end, and uses his body to create space to catch the ball and prepare for an offensive move. In games we watched, he had a tough time catching the ball cleanly on a couple of occasions, but that's certainly something that can be addressed with work. Overall, he's a grinder who appears willing to put in work to improve, and he's not floating out to the perimeter like many 6-7 or 6-8 players. He sees his future in the paint, and doesn't waste any chance to work on his game there. WVU joins Illinois, Cincinnati, Michigan, Ohio State, Xavier, Wisconsin and others in evaluation of this rising junior.
Tyler Roberson: A highly regarded wing forward prospect from Union, New Jersey, Roberson plays an open floor game that lets him uses his quick jumping ability. His forte at this point is drives from the wing, where he can put the ball on the floor and either get into the line or stop and pop for mid-range jump shots. He elevates well above defenders to get good looks at the basket, and he has a soft release on his jumper. In the open court, he's difficult to keep pace with, as he gobbles up distance with a long stride and often jumps over foes to catch lobs for lay-ups and dunks. Like most high school players, he must improve his strength, as he's still very slender for his 6-7 frame, but that's a common theme for most high schoolers. Cincinnati, Rutgers and Seton Hall from the Big East have offered, and West Virginia, Syracuse and a host of others are also looking hard.
Tyler Ennis: One of West Virginia's top targets at point, the New Jersey native displays all of the talents needed at that position. He's an excellent ballhandler who can get by his defender on the dribble, and he distributes the ball very well, even in the uneven tempo of summer basketball. He also has a solid outside shot that forces defenders to play him honestly, thus opening up more chances for drive-and dish opportunities.
Ishmail Wainwright: An athletic swingman who moves the ball well and can post up shorter guards, Wainwright previously committed to Missouri, but decided that he had made that decision too quickly. Along with the Tigers, Kentucky, West Virginia, Texas, UCLA and St. John's are some of the schools who have become involved with the rising junior. As he considers the flood of recruiting interest coming his way, Wainwright is working on his outside shot to complement his strong interior and mid-range game. He can put the ball on the floor and penetrate well, and uses his excellent size and strength to muscle his way past defenders. He has the ability to be a first-class defender as well, as he moves well laterally and has an excellent wingspan with which to get into passing lanes. His size and strength make him a very enticing target, and if he develops a dependable outside shot, he will be one of the top targets in the country by next summer.
Chris McCullough: While we don't often go this far down the recruiting line (McCullough is a member of the Class of 2014), his overall talent and play this summer makes him worth the early mention. McCullough dominated his competition at the West Virginia Jam Fest, and has continued that trend at more recent events. At 6-8 and 200 pounds, he's much more physically developed than many of his peers, but he doesn't just score and rebound over shorter players in the lane. He handles the ball well for his stage, and hits medium-range jumpers as well as scoring in the lane. He's also an improving defender, blocking shots with good timing. It won't be a surprise to see him "play up" a level in summer competition next year to see just how good he can be.