Virginia West Virginia Basketball

West Virginia University men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins questions a referee during the Mountaineers’ Dec. 5 win against Virginia in Morgantown.

Bob Huggins’ storied college basketball coaching career took one step closer Thursday to earning the ultimate recognition.

Huggins, West Virginia University’s men’s hoops coach since 2007, is among the candidates for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 2018 class. This is Huggins’ first nomination.

Born in Morgantown and a two time Academic All-American basketball player at WVU, Huggins is eighth all-time and third among active coaches with 829 wins. He was the eighth-fastest coach to the 800-win mark, doing so in 1,132 games. His next victory will tie him for seventh all-time with former Mount St. Mary’s coach Jim Phelan. He is also sixth all-time and third among active coaches with 26 20-win seasons in his career.

Huggins has taken two teams to the NCAA Final Four — the 1991-92 Cincinnati Bearcats and the 2009-10 Mountaineers. He has 23 NCAA tournament appearances with eight trips to at least the Sweet 16, including four to the Elite Eight. His Division I head coaching stops include Akron (1984-89), Cincinnati 1989-2005), Kansas State (2006-07) and WVU.

He has been named national coach of the year by a major organization six times in his career, and has coached 12 All-Americans and 18 NBA draft picks.

The Mountaineers are still going strong this season under Huggins. WVU is ranked 10th in the country at 10-1, winning every game since its season-opening loss to Texas A&M in Germany. This season’s team is led by guard Jevon Carter, named the 2016-17 national defensive player of the year, who spearheads a Mountaineer defensive effort that ranks third nationally in turnovers forced (21.3 per game), sixth in steals (10.7 per game) and 32nd in field-goal percentage defense (38.9 percent).

Other college coaching nominees this year include Phelan, Lefty Driesell, Rollie Massimino, Steve Fisher, Gene Keady, Eddie Sutton and Bo Ryan. Eligible players include Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Ray Allen and Grant Hill.

Hall of Fame finalists will be announced in mid-February, during NBA All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. The 2018 Hall of Fame class will be announced during the Final Four in San Antonio.