Moving West

After seeing limited playing time during his first three years with the Mountaineer basketball team, junior Jonnie West is making his mark in 2009. West has been an important sub off the bench for WVU early in the season, and has been a big threat from beyond the three-point arc.

As a redshirt freshman, West played in 23 games. He scored his first points as a Mountaineer when he made a couple of three-pointers against University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Last year, as a sophomore, West saw time in 11 games before suffering a broken bone in his left foot. After missing twelve games due to injury, West made his return to the court against St. John's on January 28th. That injury hindered the progression he had made under head coach Bob Huggins, who noted that West had been working his way into consideration for more playing time.

"You always want to be out there helping, but you know that it's going to take work to get there so I never look at it as feeling bad for myself for not playing but just waiting for my opportunity," said West. "I thought that eventually the time would come and it came last year but then I got hurt. It was just a bad time but I got another chance this year and I'm trying to take advantage of it."

Due to a depth of talent Huggins has made it no secret that he would be using a variety of combinations on the floor. Huggins wasted no time rotating his entire bench into the Mountaineers' season opener against Loyola. West began his junior season against Loyola where he was 0-2 during his seven minutes of play. After scoring two points against The Citadel in WVU's second game, West had a bit of a breakout when West Virginia traveled to Anaheim, Calif., to play in the 76 Classic. Inserted into the game early on, he recorded a career-high 11 points against Long Beach State. In the first game of the tournament, West was 3-6 from the field and hit a trio of three-pointers during his 18 minutes of play to help get WVU begin its journey to the tournament championship.

"It feels good," admitted West. "I've been working hard in practice and that eventually pays off. I've been lucky enough to make a couple shots when I've gotten out there."

West had another impressive game in WVU's exhibition game against the University of Charleston. The guard had 10 points in the contest, including two big three pointers early in the second half that opened West Virginia's lead and provided a much-needed momentum boost.

"Right before he put me in the game, [Coach Huggins] told me to go out there and make it look good," said West. "I hit the three and looked at him then I hit the second one and said ‘Huggs, that's two.' We were just having fun."

West's recent success on the court and the increase in minutes has done wonders for the shooter's confidence. Known for a shot resembling that of his famous father's, West's offensive game will undoubtedly be a big offensive lift for the Mountaineers as they prepare to begin Big East play.

"Just to see the ball in basket, it doesn't matter if it's in the game or during practice, it gives you confidence," said West. "The last couple of games I have been making some shots and it has helped my confidence."

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