In the above video Nathan Adrian details the expectations for his senior night. While Adrian did admit that he will try to soak up and enjoy the moment, he made it clear that the implications (becoming a two seed in the Big 12 tournament) of beating No.24 Iowa State will make it easy to separate the emotions from the game. Although Adrian is a man of few words, he seemed to sum it up best when asked what would be going through his mind as he took the court on Friday night.
"I'm just grateful for the last four years and I have had a lot of memories and I'm just trying to go out there for one more night," said Adrian. "It means a lot to me. A lot of people I know are going to be here so I'll be able be recognized by all of them."
Adrian enters his last career game averaging 10 points and six rebounds per contest. He scored 23 points and 11 boards the last time the Mountaineers and Cyclones squared off.
Brandon Watkins, who is the nephew of West Virginia great Warren Baker, will play his last home game as a Mountaineer well. Although Watkins' career has been riddled with injuries, the senior has been an integral part of West Virginia's success in 2017 as he has been a consistent rim protector and started eight games for the Mountaineers. Much like Adrian, Watkins reiterated the fact that the Mountaineers are dialed in on the Big 12 tournament implications in tomorrow's match-up with the Cyclones, but he did take a moment to reflect on the journey.
"When we came in it was tough because for one, we were freshmen and Huggs was really determined to turn this season around. We were really caught in the midst of it all."
It's safe to say that Watkins' class has turned things around. Watkins entered the program after the Mountaineers' went 13-19 in the 2012-2013 season, since then West Virginia has won 17, 25, 26, and 22 games so far this season.
Teyvon Myers, who has the most colorful personality on the team, entered West Virginia's program just two seasons ago as one of the highest scoring junior college prospects in all of the country. While Myers' offensive ability was never in question, he admittedly butted heads with Huggins at on the issue of defensive effort when he arrived on campus. However, in the offseason Myers made a concerted effort to improve on the defensive side of the court and as a result he has seen his minutes go up and has become a spark plug off the bench for the Mountaineers. The senior guard said the season has gone by fast and admitted he wished he had more time to play in the gold and blue.
"I feel like it was just a blink of an eye," said Myers. "I wish I could play another year and a year after that but that's not the way it is."
Tarik Phillip was also a junior college product but the Brooklyn native played three full seasons for West Virginia. Phillip entered the program in the 2014-2015 season - the year Bob Huggins decided to implement a full court pressure defense. When you take a look at Phillip, a strong, hard-nosed, aggressive guard, it's easy to see why the system has been so successful. Phillip has come off of the bench for the majority of his career but has started games recently due to the injuries of Daxter Miles Jr. and Esa Ahmad. Phillip echoed the sentiments of his head coach when asked what he will remember about the group.
"It's a very hard working group," said Phillip. "Nate, James, Teyvon, Brandon and myself. We're just happy to be here and to have had the opportunity to play for West Virginia."
The fifth and final senior is walk-on James Long, whose work should not be discounted despite not seeing the minutes of the other four seniors. Long started his career at Wofford and played two years for the Terriers before returning to his home state to don the gold and blue. Long's work ethic is no secret and head coach Bob Huggins has said on a number of occasions that no one spends more time in the gym working on their craft than the fifth year senior. Much like fellow senior Nate Adrian, Long truly knows what it means to be a Mountaineer and represent his home state on the hardwood.