Verbal View: Examining the Fit and Strengths of WVU Commit Derek Culver

West Virginia got a very complete big man when it added Derek Culver to its basketball class of 2017. We look at what West Virginia is getting in the athletic center.


Culver can play at both ends of the court. In this regard, he's one of the most complete bigs that West Virginia has gotten in recent years. On defense, he's a shotblocker and lane-closer who can keep penetrators from getting shots away close. He alters as many shots as he blocks, and probably causes just as many misses in that manner as he does with actual rejections. Offensively, he has a solid post game, and does even better when he turns and faces the basket. He has a strong first dribble and elevates well off the bounce. He goes at the rim with aggression, and admittedly tries to dunk as many times as he can. In the lane, he can score with a couple of different moves, and is working to refine his post game even more.

The Ohio native also runs the floor very well. He can catch the ball in transition and get it to the hoop -- an ability that a lot of bigs struggle with. He's not going to be out leading the break, but teammates shouldn't hesitate to throw it to him, even if he's a couple of strides away from the rim. He's also very bouncy, and gets off the floor quickly when he takes the ball up or challenges shots. With his height, that makes him difficult to defend, and a formidable opponent for those trying to get shots away. Combined with his wingspan and height, he's the prototype of today's five man -- a player that isn't rooted on the blocks, but who can run the floor and move to challenge on defense.


Culver, like most high school bigs, still needs some work in the weight room. He's not a big, bruising post player, but that last isn't important -- it's not his style. Still, with a year or two at WVU, he should be able to develop the sort of wiry strength that has defined players like John Flowers and Jonathan Holton. That will definitely help his post game a bit, and also make him a more effective rebounder.

Culver will also need to work on a more consistent mid-range shot -- something that he has said is high on his priority list.If he can develop that, he could be very difficult to handle on the offensive end. As a complement to his game at the rim, he could give defenders a very difficult choice in terms of what to do when he gets the ball at the high post.


Culver fills one of the needs in West Virginia's Class of 2017. With him aboard, the Mountaineers now have a big man to go along with guard Brandon Knapper, who is spending this season at prep school. WVU's attention will now turn to wings as it attempts to round out the class. If it can grab a player as accomplished as Culver, head coach Bob Huggins could be in the position to again reload, not rebuild, for succeeding seasons.

WVU has had forwards with the diverse skill set of Culver, but it's hard to pick out a big man who has as much to offer on both offense and defense right out of the gate as he does. Transfer D'Or Fisher would be comparable in terms of some defensive skills, and Devin Williams' ability to power the ball to the rim inside is also a point of comparison, but perhaps he's more like a Holton, albeit one that scores inside instead of out, that hits closest to the mark. The final takeaway, though, is that Culver has multiple skills -- and a mix of them that haven't been seen in the Coliseum at his position. Add in his ability to see the floor and pass the ball -- he is good at keeping his head up in the post and finding open teammates when defenses sag -- and the Mountaineers may have a interior foundation for the next few seasons.

West Virginia 2017 Basketball Commitment List

BlueGoldNews Top Stories