James Long, a walk-on guard who transferred from Wofford to be a part of the West Virginia program, was recently selected by totalsororitymove.com as the #9 player in the nation in terms of "player hotness". That pick, of course, made Long the subject of some teasing and fun from his teammates.
"They've all been calling me number nine," Long said good naturedly when asked about the reacation. "They've been having a lot of fun with it."
Some teammates gave him supportive kidding, such as Tarik Phillip, who said,"Underrated. Underrated for a fact. Just look at that face." Another teammate chimed in, "You think he should be higher rated than what they say? C'mon man." Phillip, who had just found out about the rating, was enthusiastic, while JEvon Carter feigned indifference. "anything his possible," he said with a deadpan shrug. Others, such as Brandon Watkins, pronounced it an internet hoax.
"I think it's false. I think he did that himself," Watkins said while laughing with teammate Daxter Miles. For his part, Miles added, "I think James Long actually made that page himself. Because I know I should actually be number one on that list." "Naw, I'd say last," Watkins added.
The takeaway from all this, of course, is the way the team has been having fun with it. It's a demonstrator of how close this WVU team is, and that they can have fun while still working to win games. That was a defining characteristic of West Virginia's Final Four team, and while this team might not get that far, the closeness and unity it has shown has been a real factor in its success this season. For his part, Long has taken all the kidding well, from Huggins on down.
"He told me, 'Number nine is all you can get?'" Long laughed. "I'll have to work on that over the summer.
"That's fun and enjoyment right there. We have been having fun with that for a few days," Miles said. "We've been calling him number nine. That's his new name. He might have to wear that as his jersey number."