Nice Surprise

Joe Herber's nomination and win of the Playboy Anson Mount Scholar/Athlete Award came as a surprise.

"I didn't know that [WVU assistant sports information director] Bryan Messerly had nominated me," Herber said after learning of the award, which comes with a $5,000 donation to West Virginia's general scholarship fund. "I've been out to the website, but I haven't seen the magazine yet. I think it comes out next month."

For some, winning an award from a publication such as Playboy might produce a mixed emotion or two, but from Herber, whose European background makes him more relaxed about such matters, it wasn't a problem.

"To me it's not embarrassing. It's funny," said Herber, who can now appreciate the old joke about buying Playboy for the articles. And while he will certainly do that, he also wouldn't be averse to any other perks the award would bring.

"They haven't told me if I'll get anything else with the award. I don't know if they will send me anything. Maybe I can go to the mansion," he joked. "We'll see."

Should such a trip occur, head coach John Beilein likely wouldn't be accompanying his outstanding senior.

"My bachelor assistant coach might lobby for that trip, but I wouldn't," Beilein said with a hearty laugh when asked about that possibility. "I might get in a lot of trouble if I lobbied for that." Asked if that would extend to his son, Beilein paused for a moment, then quipped, "I'd probably say ‘Pat, that's fine.'"

After putting aside the jokes about the trappings of the Playboy empire, however, the fact remains that the Anson Mount award is a quite prestigious honor. Only one player in the nation is picked each year, so the competition is quite rigorous. It probably won't be the last national notice Herber receives during his senior season at West Virginia, either.

Herber views the award as more of an academic honor, even though there are athletic requirements to be met by the winner as well.

"It's probably mostly academics, but it's nice to get these awards, like the academic All- America team. I came here to focus on both [academics and athletics], so it's nice recognition."

Herber is no stranger to national academic/athletic honors, having earned first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American notice from COSIDA last year. He was also a third-team selection to the same team as a sophomore – the youngest player on any of those teams.

In addition to the string of academic honors he is compiling, Herber also has another streak to his name. He has started every game of his career at WVU, and barring injury, will complete that amazing four-year run next spring. He hasn't given much thought to either run, however.

"If that's how I'm going to set my mark, that's all right," he admitted. "And if it turns out [that I start every game here], it's going to be nice. But it won't be something I would be mad about if it didn't happen. It's more about the memories on the court than the numbers."

Herber, who carries a 4.0 GPA in political science, maintained his academic excellence despite missing the first five weeks of his sophomore, junior and senior years at WVU while playing with the German national team in Europe.

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