Mission Accomplished: Program Foundation Laid

The smoke has cleared from the early signing period and WVU has emerged with a solid recruiting class for first-year head coach John Beilein and his staff.

WVU's initial four men's basketball signings under Beilein did not produce any great player signing, but did lay a strong foundation from which to build his program on.

"West Virginia's 2003 class is a starting point," said Dave Telep of TheInsidersHoops.com. "They signed four kids who are coachable and that's important. The class was diverse in terms of positions and certainly that's a plus. I like Relph's toughness and Byerson and Young should come into school hungry for playing time. If Young can make shots from the perimeter, that would really help next season."

Virtually all of the high school recruits inked during the early signing period fit the desired player profile expressed by Coach Beilein over and over again -- intelligent basketball players, possessing excellent potential for improvement during their 4-5 year careers, team-oriented with the ability to shoot the basketball, and solid students with excellent character.

"The best player at eighteen may not be the best player at twenty-one" Coach Beilein is fond of saying.

In a remarkably short period of time, Beilein has completely revamped the men's roster into his own. By the time next basketball season rolls around there will only be four scholarship players, out of thirteen or fourteen, depending on if the Mountaineers sign another player, that were not recruited by Beilein and his staff. Here's a brief capsule of the four newest members of the WVU basketball team:

Tyler Relph, (6-0 175) – This upstate New York product is known for his deadly long-range shooting and leadership abilities. A good ball-handler and excellent passer. Relph may not be the quickest or most heralded point guard to sign with the Big East conference this season but he may well be the most intelligent on the court. Has played and performed well against some of the top guards in the nation, including Sebastian Telfair and Lincoln High School. Relph averaged over 20 points per game last season for McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, NY.

Franklin Young, (6-5 190) – This Tallahassee native really emerged this past summer at the NIKE Invitational Camp in Indianapolis. Young was one of the most impressive shooters and overall performers at the camp, and the WVU staff took notice. An outstanding athlete, Young is primarily known for his consistent 3-pt shooting ability. Young probably needs to improve his ball-handling skills in order to play guard at the Big East level, but overall, is a very good pickup for the Mountaineers. Hometown Florida State has taken some heat for not landing Young and the WVU staff couldn't be happier. HoopScoop rated Young as the 157th best high school senior in the nation. Young averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds per game last season for Tallahassee High School.

Jerrah Young, (6-8 205) – This seventeen year-old Chicago native oozes with physical potential and exemplifies the Beilein philosophy. While Young is currently not a polished offensive player, he is a gifted, athletic and intelligent player who by the end of his WVU career, may end up being the most productive of the class. Young thought about waiting until the spring to make a school decision but changed his mind once he visited Morgantown. Young is rated as one of the top twenty players in Illinois this year. Young averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds a game for St. Rita High School last season.

Brad Byerson, (6-8 225) – Coach Beilein returned to the Richmond, Virginia area for the fourth and final recruit. Byerson is a lefty forward who possesses good ball-handling and passing skills. A good athlete and scorer with a solid body and tons of potential. Byerson is considered one of the top five players in the Commonwealth of Virginia this season. Byerson will need to improve his inside presence and rebounding to become the impact player that most observers feel he can be. Byerson is an intelligent player that should easily make the transition from high school to college and the Big East. HoopScoop rated Byerson as the 233rd best high school senior. Byerson averaged 17 points and 13 rebounds a game for Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Virginia last season.

WVU addressed most of the roster needs for next season with these four signings. However, if WVU could add another quality frontcourt player, then this class may go down as one of the best recruiting classes in a long time. The HoopScoop rated WVU's class tied for the seventh best recruiting class in the Big East and the 43rd class nationally.

Like any school WVU wasn't without its misses in the recruiting wars. Here is a list of some of the other players WVU was involved with at one point or another and where they eventually signed.

Vernon Hamilton (G) – Clemson
Aaron Gray (C) – Pitt
Sheray Thomas (F) – Kentucky
Jimmy Hudson (G) - Clemson
Omari Isreal (F) – Notre Dame
Sean Banks (G) – Memphis
Dan Fitzgerald (F) – Tulane
Eddie Green ( C) – James Madison
Dante Milligan (F) – Pitt
Anthony Tucker (F) – Texas
Wilfred Fameni (F) – Arizona State
Devon Pearson (G) - SMU

: Next time we will look at what potential targets remain available for Coach Beilein and his staff should they sign a player during the late period.


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