The Future

If athletic ability is all that cannot be taught by John Beilein, West Virginia's fifth-year head coach solved much of that problem with his most recent recruiting class. The newly-inked Mountaineers, labeled the Red Oxen, beat Pro City 88-47 Wednesday night in the opening round of WVU's Team Camp held through Friday.

The finest play came via point guard Joe Mazzulla, who showed crisp passing and a great feel for the game. The freshman from Warwick, Rhode Island flashed his state-sprinting champion quickness and led many of the fast breaks. Mazzulla, a 6-2, 180-pounder, will be expected to help WVU immediately. He is a pass-first point guard who diced many throws, some one-handed, through the Pro City defense, but he does have a very spread defensive stance, likely a result of being a long-strider in track.

Other highlights were Da'Sean Butler's ability to handle the ball on the interior and a nice baby hook he showed inside. He also had a one-handed follow-up on an inside miss and a dunk. Butler (6-7, 205 pounds, Bloomfield, NJ), Jacob Green (6-9, 210 pounds, Clinton, Md.) and Wellington Smith (6-7, 195 pounds, Summit, NJ) took turns handling Pro City's John Flowers (6-7, 210 pounds, Leonardtown, Md.), the first commit to West Virginia's 2007 class. The power forward, a four-star player according to, chose to play with Pro City and handled himself nicely on the interior, posting up well and maintaining a low base off of which to operate.

Flowers was perhaps the most athletic of the WVU commits, and defended Green and Smith well. Cam Thoroughman (6-7, 185 pounds, Portsmouth, Ohio) also saw time and buried a couple three-pointers. He seems to be somewhat flat-footed on defense, though there are no signs that he has not recovered well from a knee injury.

Devan Bawinkel (6-5, 185 pounds, Winnebago, Ill.) showed his shooting touch, sinking a couple three-pointers, and also played well in transition. His body control in the air led to a soft lay-in when he pulled up with three defenders surrounding him. He also seemed to be hitting mid-range jump-shots much more effectively than Jonnie West (6-3, 170 pounds, Memphis, Tenn.).

West, out of Lausanne Collegiate (Private) School, missed his first three shots, then rebounded by hitting three consecutive shots, two of which were three-pointers. West came off the bench and seemed to settle into the game early in the second half, and his defense and aggressiveness increased.

Smith created many inside chances and his hang time in the air allowed him to get open looks underneath. Current Mountaineers Frank Young and Jamie Smalligan also watched the action, as did Beilein and assistants Matt Brown and Mike Maker. Rob Summers was also at the Student Recreation Center.

The early consensus, however, was that Mazzulla was the most impressive. He had consecutive steals on possessions late in the first half. Both led to points off passes from the guard, whose heady play was the highlight. That he easily goes left (Mazzulla is left-handed) is an added bonus.

It's clear that West Virginia has bettered itself athletically. The players coming in also looked like they compete much faster than what WVU started with in past seasons, though in an atmosphere in which the team had far more talent than its opponent, judgments aren't easily made. The Red Oxen, which led 48-21 at the half, return to action Thursday at 1 and 3 p.m.

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