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WVU coach Bob Huggins reacts during the Mountaineers’ win over Oklahoma State on Tuesday night in Morgantown.

It’s never going to be the same.

That’s the realization Bob Huggins has grudgingly reached. He doesn’t like it. He wishes it never happened. He would change it if he could.

But Huggins can’t.

That is what West Virginia University’s iconic basketball coach has been forced to accept.

The transfer portal has created a not-so-brave new world.

“I think to a large degree,” said Huggins, “the days of recruiting freshmen and them continuing to grow through the program ... I don’t want to say they are completely gone, but it sure put a dent in it.

“And guys get so much outside ... I feel like I should say help, but I want to say interference. But it’s true. When you’ve got people in your ear constantly, telling you they’re not using you the right way or you need to go to this place because of the style of play or NIL ...

“There are a myriad of reasons they can come up with that they should go in the portal and really choose the place where they want to go.”

The days of recruiting a high school star and molding him, nurturing him, coaching him for the next four or five years has become an archaic, wistful concept.

“It’s not like we used to recruit guys,” said Huggins, “and, you know, you’d get them and you thought you had them for a career and you continue to work with them ... I mean, look at the guys who have come through here and how much better they have gotten. Look at Logan Routt [6-foot-11 former walk-on at WVU from Cameron, West Virginia]. He’s doing terrific now as a professional player.

“Just guys that worked hard, listened, tried to do the right thing — those days are gone.”

Indeed, they are. That’s what the transfer portal hath wrought.

“You know, I think it would be like the NBA playing without any veterans,” said Huggins, mulling over the concept. “Just let guys come in and play for a couple of years or whatever it is — two years, three years — and then let them do whatever they want to do. Which I guess they have that already to a degree.

“But it’s hard. It’s a totally different ballgame. And it’s probably harder for guys like me that did everything you could do to try to help guys. And then have them say, ‘Hey, I’m in the portal.’ They don’t even tell you they’re going in the portal. They don’t tell you why. They just get in the portal.”

So now, as much as he dislikes it, Huggins is forced to adopt a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality.

“I think it’s something that we need to do a better job of exploring early on,” said the veteran Mountaineer coach. “My thing is I always want to coach my team this time of year.

“But I think we need to do a better job of at least knowing what’s in the transfer portal and if there’s someone who could maybe fill some of our needs. It was new to everybody. It was probably newer to us than it was for people who have been taking transfers. We haven’t taken a lot of transfers.

“So yeah, we’re going to look at it. That’s all I can tell you. I don’t know much more than that.”

It’s a matter of adapting to survive. Huggins is doing what he has to do. Actually, he’s doing what he does best.

Bob Huggins is a survivor.