Early Bloomer

He's not ready for college yet. But there's certainly much to get excited about when watching young West Virginia commitment Noah Cottrill compete against his peers.

Playing in the Triple S Harley Davidson JamFest in Morgantown over the weekend, a confident Cottrill displayed the many facets of his game to a number of curious onlookers, many of who came to see the rising sophomore, who recently made a verbal commitment to WVU. Cottrill scored 31 points in one early morning game, then capped his Saturday with a sparkling effort in a contest watched by WVU coach Bob Huggins, assistant Billy Hahn and the majority of WVU's 2007-08 team. Playing at the point guard spot, Cottrill dominated the first half to help put his team firmly in control.

At his best on the move, and with the ball in his hands, Cottrill repeatedly penetrated the lane for the occasional score or the more frequent dish to a teammate for a lay-up. Blessed with excellent court vision, Cottrill made several highlight reel passes as he snaked missiles past the outstretched hands of defenders to find teammates in just the right spot for a shot. His sense of the game and excellent timing led him to make pass after pass at just the right moment, when a second's delay or a too early dish might not yield the best scoring opportunity.

During the sequence, Cottrill hit two three-pointers (the second accompanied by a foul which he turned into a four-point play), got to the line three to four more times after taking the ball aggressively to the basket, and set teammates up with a number of the aforementioned nifty assists. He also leaped between two bigger foes to rip down a one-handed offensive rebound before making a stickback – just one of many instances where he showed the fearlessness that has helped make him a standout at such a young age.

In all, it was the most impressive ten-minute stretch of any put on at the JamFest, and one that marked Cottrill as one of the event's stars, even at his young age. After witnessing just a part of the display, one coach popped out of his courtside seat and departed with the comment, "I've seen all I need to see!"

Of course, Cottrill still has a way to go before he's ready for the rigors of the Big East. Obviously, he needs more strength and bulk to take the pounding that will result from his mad dashes into the lane, but some of that will come naturally as he matures. He tends to leave his feet a bit too much off the dribble, and thus infrequently winds up with nowhere to go with the ball. And his defense, like any other sophomore's needs the seasoning that comes with more experience. But the hustle and determination that mark his offensive game is easy to see on that end of the floor as well – it just wants time to make its mark.

It's easy to get caught up in Cottrill's play, and to forget that he's just a rising sophomore. Almost all of the Mountaineers that watched him play on Saturday will be long gone by the time he makes it to West Virginia. It's possible, (although not likely) that he might not improve over the course of the next three years – that he's peaked. Any number of pitfalls – the same ones that have hampered many other talented youngsters – could intervene. But with every nifty pass, every accurate read and every lightning quick spin/crossover move, it's very difficult to think that West Virginia teams of the early teens won't have a very good block upon which to build.

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