Kentucky adds interest in WVU’s basketball schedule
MORGANTOWN – The addition of Kentucky to West Virginia’s 2017-18 basketball schedule will certainly evoke more interest in the Mountaineer program … and will probably increase the number of season tickets sold for the upcoming campaign.
Kentucky – the Blue Bloods from the Bluegrass – might just be considered the favorites for next season’s national championship, even though the Wildcats will rely heavily on their cadre of highly publicized freshmen, who have yet to set foot on campus in Lexington. More words are written about Kentucky basketball in a single season than about hundreds of Division I teams in a five-year period.
Kentucky is coming to Morgantown on January 27, 2018, in the annual Big 12/SEC pairings that include four other such games spread across the schedule.
Already West Virginia had a spicy non-conference slate that sees Virginia coming to Morgantown on December 5, shows the Mountaineers visiting Pittsburgh for a game on December 9 and opens in Germany against Texas A&M on November 10.
A three-game tournament in Orlando grouped together at Thanksgiving is another feature that is sure to be more palatable to the players than Bethune-Cookman, Mt. St. Mary’s, VMI and Radford from the recent past.
Keeping pace with West Virginia’s roster has been a challenge of late.
Jevon Carter has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will return for his senior season as the starting point guard. Carter was the team’s leading scorer last season when the Mountaineers reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament before losing to Gonzaga.
Leaving the roster is Elijah Macon, who would have been a senior in eligibility. Macon has voiced his intent to play professionally in Europe or elsewhere – certainly not in the NBA.
The Mountaineers would have had 14 scholarship players if Macon had stayed on the roster since they have signed four newcomers and have a 2015-16 signee coming in from Hargrave Military, where he was enrolled last year.
The four incoming players are Teddy Allen (6-foot-5, 215 from Omaha), D’Angelo Hunter (6-foot-7 from Navarro Junior College), Wesley Harris (6-foot-8, 200 from Lawson State Junior College) and Derek Culver (6-foot-8, 205).
Returning from last season will be Carter, Esa Ahmad, Daxter Miles, Sagaba Konate, Lamont West and Maciej Bender, who were starters or played significant minutes on most nights.
Three others who either played very little or barely contributed also have scholarships.
With Kentucky on the schedule West Virginia gets added publicity and notoriety without even beating the public relations drums with any other news. Add Virginia, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M to the mix and there is no need to expound on the capabilities of conference rivals Kansas, Oklahoma State, Baylor or Iowa State.