MORGANTOWN — Had West Virginia’s basketball team lost either Eron Harris or Terry Henderson to transfer, it would have been a moderate blow.
Losing both? That’s rather significant.
But now the Mountaineers have indeed lost both. Henderson surprised just about everyone by asking for a release from his scholarship this week and on Friday, coach Bob Huggins granted it.
That comes only a couple of days after Harris was officially granted his release after requesting it at the end of the season. His release was delayed only because he had to finish the spring semester first.
“We have enjoyed Terry and his contributions to Mountaineer basketball,” Huggins said in a short statement issued by the school Friday afternoon. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Contacted later, Huggins wouldn’t issue any further comment, but did indicate that filling both vacant scholarships before the beginning of the fall term will be a priority, but not a necessity. He won’t sign replacements just to fill the roster spots.
West Virginia’s coaches weren’t caught entirely off guard by the move, because Henderson was due to sign a housing contract in recent weeks and had not done so.
The significance of Henderson’s departure is obvious. West Virginia had two primary shooting guards last season in Harris and Henderson, although Henderson missed five games late in the season when he was ill and never really fully recovered. He was still the team’s third-leading scorer behind All-Big 12 point guard Juwan Staten and Harris.
Harris averaged 17.2 points per game and Henderson 11.7 and they ranked 1-2 in 3-point attempts per game and 3-point shooting percentage among those who took a significant number of shots. Both were sophomores last season and wherever they land, both will have two years remaining after sitting out a transfer season.
The player who ranked third on the team in 3-point attempts per game and second in 3-pointers made, Remi Dibo, also might be in a state of limbo where the WVU program is concerned.
Harris seemed to suggest earlier in the week on his Twitter account that Dibo was exploring a transfer, although his options in that regard appear to be limited to transferring out of Division I and to a lower level unless he were to get some sort of NCAA waiver.
Huggins said Friday that he hadn’t spoken to Dibo.
Regardless of Dibo’s situation, West Virginia is down its two most experienced shooting guards in Harris and Henderson. Dibo and Nathan Adrian, the team’s other primary outside shooters last season, are both small forward types. After those, the best returning shooters are Gary Browne and walk-on Chase Connor.
There is, however, help coming in the recruiting class. Incoming freshmen Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles can shoot, as can junior-college transfer Tarik Phillip.
Still, in an age where transfers are almost the norm in college basketball — the number to date just from this year is approaching 500 across the country — West Virginia seems to have been hit a bit harder than some others. Harris and Henderson are the 10th and 11th players to transfer after playing at WVU in the last four seasons, although nearly half that number, five, came in one year, 2013.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1