MORGANTOWN — For former Fairmont Senior High basketball standout Jalen Bridges, the plan to switch from a year at a Pennsylvania prep school to enrolling at West Virginia University earlier this month came together pretty quickly.
Now that he is on campus, however, the timetable for his WVU debut is likely to slow down considerably.
The Mountaineers open practice for the 2019-2020 season on Friday, and on Tuesday WVU coach Bob Huggins met with the media ahead of the season’s start.
When asked what the plan was for Bridges this season, Huggins said he expects the 6-foot-7 freshman to redshirt.
“He wanted to redshirt,” Huggins said of Bridges. “That was the plan that they had mapped out. I was fine with it. I think it’s a great idea.”
Bridges was the Bill Evans Award winner last season as the top high school boys basketball player in the state of West Virginia and was a four-star recruit according to 247Sports. Huggins said the ceiling on how good the former Polar Bear standout can be as a Mountaineer is very high.
“You’ve got to like his his length and ability at 6-7,” Huggins said. “He’s long and he’s got the ability to play on the perimeter. And he gets better every day, I think, as he gets more comfortable. He’s going to be a really good player.”
THE WAITING GAME
With Bridges set to redshirt, that puts West Virginia at 12 scholarship players for the upcoming season. That number could drop to 11 if Arkansas transfer Gabe Osabuohien is denied a waiver for immediate eligibility with the Mountaineers.
Osabuohien, a forward listed at 6-7 and 235 pounds, was dismissed by Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman in August and quickly resurfaced with the Mountaineers. He played two season for Arkansas before leaving the program and, if eligible, would add to what could be a pretty deep front court for the Mountaineers this season. Huggins said Tuesday he did not know which way the NCAA was leaning on the waiver request, but sounded confident it would be granted.
“If you have any reason whatsoever seemingly to get a waiver, it doesn’t take a lot,” Huggins said. “There’s such an emphasis on on individual rights that I don’t think they want that challenged anymore. Unless there’s strong opposition to it from some faction, I think generally we’re at a time where they want to be known as helping people achieve their goals and not holding them back from achieving their goals, which they were accused of, I think, before.”
In 54 games at Arkansas, Osabuohien averaged 2.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. He started the Razorbacks’ final eight games last season and played well on the defensive end of the floor in those game.
“He’s a big who can bounce it,” Huggins said. “I think that’s a great weapon to have. He’s a guy who can catch it and drive it and I think draw fouls. He’s strong. He’s aggressive. I think for an extended period of time he can guard on the perimeter better than any big we have.”