MORGANTOWN — Newcomers, newcomers, newcomers.
That’s the common theme, common thread and common denominator for the state of West Virginia’s only two NCAA Division I basketball programs.
West Virginia University has six scholarship newcomers on its 2019-20 roster.
Well, guess what?
Marshall University also has six scholarship newcomers.
Which means these are going to be two basketball programs in transition.
That was obviously the case for the Mountaineers here recently during the “Gold-Blue Debut” scrimmage in the Coliseum. The newcomers on the Gold team soundly defeated the starters on the Blue squad 67-54.
A similar situation is happening in Huntington. In an officiated scrimmage a few days ago, Marshall redshirt freshman point guard Andrew Taylor and true freshman combo guard Marko Sarenac reportedly were impressive.
So, yes indeed, the newcomers are having an impact.
At WVU, 6-foot-4 junior college transfer Taz Sherman was particularly impressive with a scrimmage-high 18 points on 7-for-15 shooting, including 4 for 6 from 3-point range. He also had six rebounds.
“Taz can shoot it,” said Huggins. “You get 26 [points a game in junior college] — you can score. He’s usually a lot better in the post. He missed a lot of shots in the post. He shot a lot of fadeaways that he doesn’t normally take.”
Then, there’s 6-2 true freshman point guard Miles McBride. He finished with 11 points, five steals and three assists while playing superlative defense on starting point guard Jordan McCabe.
“I think we can play him anywhere,” said Huggins of McBride. “He can play the one [point guard], two [shooting guard] or three [small forward]. So, he could be with virtually any combination. He’s probably our most versatile guy.”
Other newcomers include 6-7 junior Gabe Osabuohien, transfer from Arkansas who still is trying to become eligible, and sophomore guard Sean McNeil.
Osabuohien simply knows how to play, scoring seven points, grabbing eight rebounds, dealing three assists, blocking a shot and hitting a 3-pointer in the scrimmage. McNeil, along with Sherman, are the best shooters on the team.
Then there’s true freshman Oscar Tshiebwe, who is listed at 6-9 and 258 pounds, but appears closer to 6-7. Either way, he finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Fairmont’s Jalen Bridges is being red-shirted.
Meanwhile, at Marshall, six other newcomers are making waves. They include 6-3 redshirt freshman guard Andrew Taylor, 6-5 redshirt wing Jeremy Dillon, 6-7 freshman guard Marko Sarenac, 6-6 redshirt freshman wing Cam Brooks-Harris, 6-7 true freshman forward DaJour Rucker and 7-foot true freshman center Goran Miladinovic.
“In the guard area,” said MU veteran coach Danny D’Antoni, “Andrew Taylor and Marko have really impressed me with their raw style of play and the potential they have to become great players. We have four juniors, but Andrew and Marko at those guard spots both have the ability to rise up and say, ‘No, I’m claiming this early.’ ”
Then there’s the 7-foot elephant in the room.
“Goran is a 7-footer who is smooth as silk,” said D’Antoni. “He has the ability to do a little bit of everything. His growth will come in his ability to play as intense as you have to play at this level.
“He’s made some big strides recently. You can see the improvement. He has pushed the pedal down a little bit and I’m seeing some good things from him.”
So, whether it’s at WVU or Marshall, the newcomers are coming on strong.