Verbal View: Tarik Phillip

West Virginia's most recent addition to the basketball class of 2015 offers a commodity most valued by head coach Bob Huggins.

A pair of visits -- one by the West Virginia coaches to Independence College, and a return trek by Tarik Phillip to the Mountain State -- resulted in a verbal commitment on Sunday.

Phillip takes the spot vacated by transferring guard Eron Harris, and he brings at least one highly valued trait with him.


In a word, it's defense. Every evaluator that provided with a breakdown of the junior college guard mentioned it first and foremost. Phillip's competitive nature pushes him on the defensive end, where he faces every opposing possession with bulldog tenacity.

On the wing, Phillip closes out well, and works hard to stay in front of his man when the ball goes on the floor. He doesn't give up on plays, and will hustle to get back into position if he loses the advantage. He's also a practice warrior, who competes as hard in those sessions as he does on the court.

This doesn't mean that Phillip is a slouch offensively -- far from it. He averaged 18.7 points per game this past season for Independence (Kan.) Community College, and can score in a variety of manners. He also moves the ball well on offense, but it's definitely his defensive ability that first drew the attention of the Mountaineer coaching staff.


Some will look at Phillip's somewhat slender offer list and worry, while others will question why South Carolina, which signed him out of high school, didn't come calling again after his time at Independence.

Tarik Phillip
Independence CC
Independence, Kan.
G 6-3 180
The lack of attention can be somewhat explained by Phillip's peripatetic journey from high school to Independence, which included stops at Queen City Prep in Charlotte and one non-playing stint at another junior college. Some schools simply lost him in the shuffle. As to USC's "dropping" of him, it should be noted that the Gamecocks signed five guards over the two seasons after Phillip's commitment, and currently have six guards on their roster, including four freshmen.

Phillip's travels can't be overlooked, and those that have been troubled by the high attrition rate at West Virginia over the past few years will certainly land on this as a potential trouble spot. On the encouraging side, however, Phillip did very well during his time at Independence, including a solid performance in the classroom, and had no problems in quickly making himself a valuable member of the team.


The debates about backgrounds and offers can rage forever, but those won't be decided until the player in question steps on campus. For now, though, the proof of talent is in Phillip's play. During his short, 18-game stint at Independence, he performed well enough to be named the Eastern Division player of the year in the Jayhawk Conference. He shoots the ball well (55.7% from the field) and in addition to his defensive abilities, has a good understanding of the game. He rebounds and passes the ball well, and doesn't appear to have any major holes in his game.

Understandably, some will view this commitment as a stretch, or worry until he actually enrolls at WVU. But at this point in the recruiting process, Phillip fills a need for perimeter defense, and could be a solid addition to the team for the upcoming season.

Class of 2014 WVU Basketball Verbal Commitments

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