MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In just 24 hours, Best Virginia will take the court at the Charleston Coliseum to open its 2022 TBT run.
This will be the second straight year the group representing WVU hoops will participate in The Basketball Tournament. The team does return its core group of players from a year ago but it also welcomes five new players to its roster.
Kevin Jones, John Flowers and Devin Ebanks, a newcomer to Best Virginia, all played together on the Final Four team so muscle memory kicks in when the trio is on the floor. KJ and Flowers also played with Juwan Staten, Jaysean Paige, Teyvon Myers and Jamel Morris, a Fairmont St. alum, for at least one TBT run prior to 2022.
Those players accompanied by five new additions means versatility is Best Virginia’s advantage. It also means chemistry is its biggest challenge.
“The most important thing for us right now is getting chemistry,” Ebanks said after Best Virginia’s exhibition game. “We came together and looked good on offense. Defense can definitely get better, but even that was not so bad today. The most important thing is getting that chemistry, getting a feel for each other.”
Half of the roster may not have the experience playing alongside each other, but it makes the gelling process easier when just about all of the players were brought up in the same system.
Only three members of Best Virginia did not play their collegiate careers at West Virginia.
Ebanks said you can always tell when you are playing with a guy who donned the Gold and Blue.
“You got to have a little toughness to you, a chip on your shoulder to play for West Virginia. That’s just our style. It’s been like that for the last 10-12 years, so it’s good to see it is still going on.,” he said. “These guys are thriving as pros now, too.”
Most of the Best Virginia lineup is made up of players who recently wrapped a career overseas. It’s their offseason, so getting back in game shape is another priority ahead of Sunday’s TBT opener.
Best Virginia has size, versatility and the ability to shoot. If it can add cardio and chemistry, especially of the defensive end, to its list of strengths, then it has a pretty good chance of making a deep run.
“Anytime you have size and shape, you have a chance to win anything you are in. The battle you fight going into TBT is trying to get comfortable. That’s why days like today are good because it’s reps together.” Long said after the exhibition game.” You are figuring each other out.”
Best Virginia is the No. 1 seed in the West Virginia Regional and will face No. 8 Virginia Dream on Sunday at 7 p.m.