MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With the WVU basketball program as he knew it facing a slew of unforeseen circumstances over the summer, WVU guard Seth Wilson looked inward to determine his next steps.
By NCAA rule, former WVU head coach Bob Huggins’ resignation opened up opportunities for his players in the transfer portal, but Wilson was one of four WVU players who decided to continue playing for the Mountaineers.
“I’m a man of faith,” Wilson said. “I prayed about it, and my heart was here. I wanted to be here, regardless of what was going on, this is where I wanted to be, so I stayed.”
Believe it or not, Wilson (4.2 points per game) is WVU’s leading returning scorer from last season. He played in all 34 games, averaging 13.2 minutes per contest, and he made 41.5% of his three-pointers.
Now, he is in a position to take a year-three leap, especially with the recent news regarding guard RaeQuan Battle’s eligibility for the 2023-24 season.
“Certain guys that come off the bench or were going to get limited minutes are going to have to take up that responsibility and take advantage of that responsibility in terms of what we’re going to need to rely on to win games,” interim head coach Josh Eilert said. “So it’s a group effort.”
This off-season, WVU players received more position-specific training from their assistant coaches. As a result, practices were a little shorter than they were in the past, but each player received ample attention. Wilson and the guards primarily worked with assistant coaches Alex Ruoff and Jordan McCabe.
“That allows us to dig deep and hold kids more accountable, and be more detailed when we cut film and stuff,” Ruoff said. “Same thing with the individual training. We’re not going as long every day as the previous coaching staff in practice, so that opens up time to do individual workouts, so I can focus on our five-to-six guards with the help of Jordan McCabe.”
The specific off-ball reads for guards within the new WVU offense – and the shot-selection choices that come with them – have been points of emphasis for Wilson. He also is working to enhance his ball-handling skills. Not that ball security is a weakness, though. In two years of college ball, he’s recorded just six turnovers.
The guard-centric workouts also helped build the chemistry with new starting point guard and Arizona transfer Kerr Kriisa. Kriisa – who has been tabbed as a “magician” by teammates – led the Pac-12 in assists per game in both of the last two seasons in Tucson.
“You always have to have your head on a swivel because you don’t know when he’s going to through you the ball,” Wilson said. “He might throw it behind his head. He might throw it behind his back. You never know what’s going to happen. So you got to have your head on a swivel and be ready to knock down shots.”
Along with Kriisa, Wilson continues to work with guards Jeremiah Bembry (Florida State), Noah Farrakhan (Eastern Michigan) and fellow returnee Kobe Johnson. Johnson and Wilson are two of the four returning WVU players from the 2022-23 season.
“That’s my best friend,” Wilson said. “[He is like] my brother. So obviously, we talked about [staying at WVU] amongst ourselves, and once we both said we were both all-in, we were both all-in, and [there] wasn’t [any] turning back.”
It’s relationships like Wilson’s and Johnson’s that Eilert hopes can lift the team after a tumultuous offseason full of twists and turns.
“[The] optimism is still there,” he said. “They all rally around each other, and I talked a lot about chemistry early, and how we really need to develop that chemistry, and they’ve really bought into each other. You see the brotherhood really taking shape in that locker room, which really pleases me, and I know that’s going to be a key piece in our success.”