B12 Oklahoma West Virginia Basketball

WVU’s Logan Routt dunks against Oklahoma in the Big 12 tournament last March.

MORGANTOWN — When it comes to the West Virginia University frontcourt for the upcoming college basketball season, a lot of the attention — and deservedly so — has focused on sophomore Derek Culver and incoming freshman Oscar Tshiebwe.

Senior forward Logan Routt, a former basketball and football standout at Cameron High, is trying to make that a three-man conversation. If he continues to play the way he did during the Mountaineers’ recent three-game tour of Spain, he’ll give opposing teams more to think about down low than just Culver and Tshiebwe.

Routt has been a role player for West Virginia during his career in Morgantown to this point, but one look at him during WVU’s practices prior to leaving for Spain showed he has changed his body during the offseason. He appears slimmer and moves better than he did at any point last season.

Of course, the Mountaineers were without Tshiebwe due to visa issues during the trip to Spain, which opened the door for Routt to see more of the floor. He took advantage of it, scoring 16, 15 and 20 points while grabbing eight, five and 10 rebounds in WVU’s three games against Spanish competition.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said the work Routt put in with the Mountaineers’ strength and conditioning staff this offseason is starting to show.

“[Routt] is playing really well,” Huggins said. “ [WVU basketball strength coach] Shaun [Brown] has done a great job with him. Shaun has done a great job of making him leaner — he hasn’t lost weight, per se, but he’s gained muscle mass. He has a lot more muscle mass and he’s running really well.”

Traveling call

Tshiebwe’s visa problem that prohibited him from traveling to Spain with the rest of the team is expected to be resolved by the time WVU goes to Mexico to play in the Cancun Challenge this November, Huggins said.

“The reasons for you getting in or not getting in don’t always stay the same, but then they don’t last forever either,” Huggins said.

No complaints from McCabe

Sophomore guard Jordan McCabe played parts of last season with a bad knee and required offseason surgery to repair an injured medial collateral ligament. Prior to the trip to Spain, McCabe said he still has good days and bad days when it comes to his knee, but Huggins said there was no sign of any discomfort while the team was in Spain.

“He never complained and he never wore a sleeve or anything,” Huggins said.

Grooming McBride

Early reviews of incoming freshman guard Miles “Deuce” McBride are overwhelmingly positive.

McBride, a former standout at Ohio powerhouse Moeller in Cincinnati, showed off what he can do during the trip to Spain and made quite the impression on Huggins, who said the freshman has the skill to play point guard, shooting guard and even some small forward if need be.

McBride scored 14 points to go with five rebounds against the Madrid All-Stars, had 11 points and five rebounds against CC Basketball Academy, and in perhaps his best overall game of the tour registered six points, seven rebounds and seven assists against the Barcelona All-Stars.

“Pretty much everything,” Huggins said when asked what he liked about McBride’s game during the tour of Spain. “We played him at the point some, he did a good job running the team. I thought his ball security was really good. He defended. He may have been our best perimeter defender on the trip. He shot the ball well. He’s physical enough to guard somebody bigger than him, but he can also guard some people smaller than him. I thought he had a great trip.”

Contact Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@wvgazettemail.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports. Read Tom’s WVU sports blog at http://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/wvu/