As head coach Bob Huggins begins his fifth season at WVU, he may face his toughest head coaching job to date. Huggins only has three and a half returning players (four if you count redshirt freshman Kevin Noreen, who missed most of last season with an injury) with whom he needs to integrate the skills of six freshman. The road to the NCAA tournament may be a tough one this season, but it's still within reach for the Mountaineers. Here's a look at who will be donning the blue and gold this season.
Kevin Jones - Jones was named to the preseason all Big East first team this season, as he was last year. Last season was Jones's first season as "the guy" at WVU, and he seemed to struggle. He shone during his first two years on campus as a secondary option behind Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks, while last year he wilted with all eyes on him. He didn't get a lot of frontcourt help last year, and will need help from WVU's other bigs to have a better year. For this season to be successful, Jones will have to be a force on the boards and on the scoreboard, and carry the Mountaineers through the season's tougher moments.
Truck Bryant - Bryant endured one of the most epic shooting slumps ever seen in Morgantown last season. This year, the shoot-first guard will have an opportunity to move from the point position to shooting guard with the arrival of two talented freshmen. Mountaineer nation is hanging its hat on the notion that the change will shake Truck from last season's dismal performance. WVU will need scorers, and Bryant will be counted on to do his fair share, so Mountaineer fans will have to hope that the switch to shooting guard does the trick.
Deniz Kilicli - The Turk has been a project for his first two seasons, but now will be counted on to be a player. Kilicli can be one of WVU's most enigmatic and frustrating players. At times, he scores with ease and seems to dominate offensively. On defense and on the boards, it's a different matter entirely. Kilicli needs to round out his game this season and be a dominating inside presence. If the Turk can develop into a consistent frontcourt presence, it should take some of the pressure off of Kevin Jones.
Kevin Noreen - In the seven games he got into Noreen tallied 18 points, 12 boards and four assists in 39 minutes of play all of last season. WVU is going to need him to put up stat lines like that every game this year. If he's up to the challenge, Noreen can expect to see serious minutes as Huggins tweaks his forward rotation. We can only hope that he spent the off-season in the weight room so that he's ready to compete with the other big men in the Big East.
Jabarie Hinds - Hinds arrives in Morgantown as the most highly-touted member of this year's freshman class. His job is to handle the point duties which should free up Bryant to score. Problem is, Hinds likes to shoot just as much and seems a bit undersized to run the point in the Big East, and definitely too small to play two guard. He should be a contributor this year, but may have some rough patches along the way.
Gary Browne - Browne is also charged with contributing at the point this season, and unlike Hinds and Bryant, he appears to know that his job starts and stops with distributing the basketball. A true "pass-first" point guard, Browne will be counted on to get the ball to WVU's upperclassmen in the paint. The success of the WVU offense will depend on it.
Keaton Miles - Miles is penciled into the starting lineup to start the season, replacing John Flowers in the role of rangey, lanky forward. Miles is near the top of the heap of this season's incoming freshman, but nothing is written in stone. I expect Huggins to shuffle his forwards quite a bit early in the season, but out of the gate, expect Miles to get the minutes.
Aaron Brown - Brown is an undersized forward who will likely attempt to fill the role vacated by Dalton Pepper after his transfer to Temple. Brown will be expected to contribute on the perimeter, with both his long-range shooting touch and his defensive abilities.
Pat Forsythe - Forsythe may be the only true center on the Mountaineers' active roster, but he seems to still have "project" written all over him. Huggins will need someone to step up to spell Jones and Kilicli when they head to the bench, but that may not happen very often.
Tommie McCune - McCune, like Forsythe, will be expected to contribute depth in the frontcourt rotation. These two are likely in a scenario where they may occupy similar roles and Huggins could simply go with whoever is playing well at any given moment.
Dominic Rutledge - Rutledge is a juco transfer who has had disciplinary issues so far in his short time in Morgantown. Has been suspended from the team already (and since reinstated), and barely saw the floor during the exhibition game. He has a long way to go before he's a part of the forward rotation.
Aaric Murray - Aaric is a dominant big man who will sit this season after a transfer from LaSalle, where he started for most of his career. Murray will toughen up the Mountaineers in practice this season, but looks to be a major contributor next season.
Juwan Staten - Started the entire season for the Dayton Flyers last year, but will have to sit out this season after transferring. Staten will be a boost in practice, and figures to play a key role in the Mountaineers future.