THIS WON'T be a run-of-the-mill summer for West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins.
Aside from the rubber chicken dinner fundraisers and golf tournaments, he's potentially filling a roster spot. And he's using his passport.
Almost two weeks ago, you may know, Huggins granted a release to 6-foot-5 guard Dalton Pepper, who is transferring to Temple. No, it wasn't a direct hit to the program's bow, but it was certainly a glancing blow because Pepper finally seemed to be maturing as a Mountaineer.
It will be tough for WVU fans to forget that Pepper, playing at the top of the Mountaineers' 1-3-1 zone against Clemson in the NCAA tournament, stole the ball on three consecutive possessions. He converted two of the steals into layups to seal West Virginia's win.
Also, he was one of only five scholarship players set to return next season. Now, though, there's a roster opening, although it's very late in the recruiting game.
Will Huggins fill that spot?
"Conceivably," said the Mountaineer coach. "We're looking to see if there are transfers [available] or if there's somebody out there who makes it late [academically]. If not, we're in no hurry."
Pepper could have been in the running for a starting spot at shooting guard.
"But we recruited three guards and got Truck [Bryant] back," Huggins said.
The summer will also be different because the youthful Mountaineers will get a jump on most of the other NCAA teams. They'll get 10 days of practice at the beginning of August before embarking on a trip to Italy.
"They'll basically be gone the middle of August," said trip coordinator Chris Spencer of WWS Management in Nashville, Tenn. "They'll be in Sicily, Rome and Venice."
There are a couple of high points scheduled.
"One is a game at a U.S. Naval base in Sicily," Spencer said. "That's exciting."