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Mitch Vingle: Huggins still fishing for recruits

The other day, West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins sent a picture of himself via Twitter landing a 9-pound, 30-inch brown trout.

Guess what?

Huggins still isn’t finished fishing.

Since the departure of guards Eron Harris and Terry Henderson from WVU, the coach has been even more active than usual on the recruiting trail. Aside from previously signed Daxter Miles and Jevon Carter, Huggins has inked junior college guards Tarik Phillip and, on Tuesday, Jaysean Paige.

There remains, however, a scholarship open because Remi Dibo is also out the door.

Word is WVU’s coaches are hoping that goes to Justin Martin, a transferring forward who was a key for Xavier’s March NCAA tournament run.

On Wednesday, Martin, who averaged 11.7 points and 5.2 rebounds last season for the Musketeers, visited Florida State. He has, however, promised to visit Morgantown when possible. (A new dead period starts today.)

Meanwhile, the Mountaineers hosted an unofficial visit Wednesday from longtime recruit Esa Ahmad, likewise a forward, for the 2015 class. The Cleveland product is currently mulling offers from Ohio State and Maryland, in addition to the Mountaineers.

WVU is also checking out 6-5 forward Marcus Roper of New Mexico Military Institute. He shot 50.3 percent this season and averaged 15.5 points. The Mountaineers are also on intriguing Josh Steel, a 6-4 junior guard from Barking Abbey Academy in the United Kingdom. Steel started in the Jordan Brand Classic International Game last year at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

But let’s get back to the current haul. There are currently six scholarship guards on board for Huggins: Juwan Staten, Gary Browne, Miles, Paige, Phillip and Carter.

“We had to get rid of the others to make room for these guys,” the coach joked.

Make no mistake, WVU’s coaches are high on the incoming players. Paige could be the starter at shooting guard. Ditto Miles, whom Huggins said is “very talented.” Carter can really shoot. Phillip is athletic. And Browne is a senior.

A call was placed to Huggins to ask what he’s going to do with the six. (Remember, Chase Connor and Charleston’s own James Long are also guards on the roster.)

“We need another,” Huggins said. “We’re going to play faster. And we’re going to try and guard, which would be new in Morgantown. We’re going to play hard and guard.”

The subject seemed to fire up Huggins.

“We’re going to guard and rebound it,” he said. “We’re going to get back to working hard, like the people of West Virginia — black and blue. We’re going to out-tough people. We’re going to go guard. We’re going to go rebound.”

Apparently, they’re also going to have a deeper guard rotation.

“We played people too many minutes last year,” Huggins said. “Wanny played too many. We’ll be able to give him breaks and he’ll be every bit as effective. Last year he couldn’t guard the way he’s capable because he played too many minutes. The good thing was he was in phenomenal shape to be able to do what he did.”

So where will the guards be slotted?

“At point we have [Staten],” Huggins said. “Jevon can play there. Jaysean can play there. We’ve masqueraded Gary Browne out there.”

At shooting guard, Paige, Miles, Phillip and Carter appear suited.

“All of the above,” Huggins said.

Rules forbid the coach from talking about possible future targets. He did, though, say he’s “not done yet.”

“There’s a very good possibility,” he said, “we’ll sign another by August.”

Again, all signs point to Martin as the immediate target. But, if not, might it be another guard?

“We’re looking for a shot-maker,” said the coach. “You can never have enough shot-makers.”

He’s certainly out there fishing the rivers.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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