WHEN West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins looked down his bench Thursday night in the Coliseum, he didn't have access to true scholarship freshmen.
Three of the four signed members of the 2010 class, in fact, aren't even in Morgantown.
Center Kevin Noreen is the only one left standing - except he barely can stand. Noreen underwent knee surgery Wednesday and is out for the season. He was on the bench Thursday.
If you attempted to look for 7-foot-1 center David Nyarsuk this season though, well, he could've been found on the sports front of the Gazette in Wednesday's paper. We had a nice photo of him swatting at a WVU Tech shot - as a member of Mountain State's NAIA team. Nyarsuk didn't have the academic qualifications to enter WVU. (I'm told, by the way, the Sudan native is plenty smart enough to qualify, but has trouble with our difficult-to-learn English language.)
Darrious Curry, a 6-7 Houston native, was medically disqualified because of a previously undetected heart problem. He retained his WVU scholarship through the first semester. WVU's coaches apparently treated him very well. But Curry has left Morgantown and may land at Midland (Texas) College, which has an elite junior college basketball program.
Also gone is Noah Cottrill.
That's correct. On Thursday, Huggins confirmed the former state star has withdrawn from school.
Whatever suspense remained that the suspended freshman would return to the Mountaineer team is over.
And it's a shame. For all involved.
It's a shame for Huggins, who worked hard to land Cottrill. The coach had to out-duel competition like that of Florida's Billy Donovan for the four-star point guard, who some compared to ex-Duke star Bobby Hurley.
It's a shame for WVU's team, which certainly could have used Cottrill's services this season. Not only could the Mountaineers have used the guard's talents, but his spunk, his fire. It's something that has been sorely lacking this season.
It's a shame for the state, especially those in the southern part, who supported Cottrill. He was helped and cheered by folks in Poca, Beckley (where he attended Mountain State) and Logan. Sports fans across the Mountain State kept tabs on last season's state player of the year.
No, of course, this story doesn't have an ending. He certainly has opportunities to land elsewhere. But wherever he lands - if indeed he chooses to play basketball - it won't be on the largest stage in the state that watched him grow.
That opportunity is gone. And that's a shame.
Cottrill, of course, signed with WVU amid much hoopla. He was an all-state guard. He was the player of the year while leading Logan to the AAA state championship. He was a Parade All-America selection. He averaged 26 points his one season at Mountain State.
Many West Virginia fans were impatiently waiting to see what his impact would be after the Mountaineers' Final Four appearance. Would he be able to crack the starting lineup as a freshman? Would he help fill the huge holes left by the departures of Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks?