While at Cincinnati, Huggs produced five NBA Draft first round picks. So why can’t Bob Huggins get a guy drafted in the first round at WVU?
Before you claim Joe Alexander as a Huggins guy, Joe was brought in by Beilein. Does Huggins deserve credit for helping to get Alexander to the next level? Absolutely. But he was not brought in by Huggs and that is what we are looking for in this article.
There have only been three Huggins WVU recruits selected in the NBA Draft at all during his current era at WVU and they were all second rounders. Before Jevon Carter was selected in the second round in 2018 there hadn’t been a WVU player drafted since 2010, when Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks went back-to-back in the second round with the 42nd and 43rd picks.
In the 2000 NBA Draft Huggins’ team at Cincinnati produced the 1st and 6th overall picks in the draft, with Kenyon Martin and DerMarr Johnson. He produced five first rounders during his run from 1989 to 2005. So far from 2007 to 2019 he has produced zero at WVU.
Even more mind-blowing is the fact that during his one year at Kansas State he produced No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley and second-rounder Henry Walker (the man formerly known as Bill Walker). In one recruiting class at Kansas State Huggins produced more first round draft picks than his entire time at WVU.
This is not to take away from Huggins’ achievement at WVU, but I remember thinking, if this guy can get a No. 1 recruiting class to Manhattan, Kansas, imagine what he’s going to bring to Morgantown.
The incoming class that was the most heralded for Huggins at WVU was the class of 2008. This included Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant and Devin Ebanks, who was the only five-star recruit Huggins has brought to WVU until Oscar Tshiebwe. As stated earlier, Ebanks was taken 43rd in the 2010 NBA Draft. While Kevin Jones was not drafted, he did play in 32 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2012-2013 season.
Is there a first round NBA first round draft pick on the current roster? Oscar Tshiebwe has a ton of potential and despite not playing a college basketball game yet seems to be the best bet. Derek Culver has the size and ability, but may be lacking in athleticism and explosiveness. If he continues to become more polished and better at scoring around the basket he could have a shot. Wing player Emmitt Matthews Jr. has the height and all-around skill set, he just needs to develop and improve his skills but the upside is there.
Regardless of when or if his players get drafted, Huggins has shown he can win at WVU. In the current landscape there are two paths to the national championship: the ones who crank out one-and-dones such as Duke and Kentucky and then the teams who build rosters filled with four-year starters and are always in the mix, such as Villanova and Gonzaga. Obviously West Virginia has used the latter approach.