The decade from 2010-19 produced some of the greatest basketball teams – and players in West Virginia history.
Given the monumental task of trying to select the top 10 players from that decade, I waded through numerous stats, analytics and opinions. In the end, it’s tough to base the decision solely on stats, as even those are open to debate.
Which is more valuable – points or rebounds? What about steals in the era of Press Virginia? And that doesn’t even begin to account for all of the non-quantifiable contributions that contribute to wins and losses.
That led to a very wide area search and evaluation mission, but there were a couple of guidelines. First, this list includes only the collegiate careers of the players. Professional performance was not an evaluation point, nor was the potential assigned to them by recruiting services. Also, any player who participated in one or more years from 2010-19 was eligible for consideration. Thus Oscar Tshiebwe and Deuce McBride will have to wait until 2030 to earn their all-decade recognition.
As always, making cuts was an excruciating task. This list could have easily included another six to eight players, but in keeping with the decade and 10 themes, those decisions had to be made. Off we go, counting down:
10) Darryl “Truck” Bryant: Certainly not the highest percentage shooter in Mountaineer history, Bryant nonetheless earns a spot on this squad with his volume scoring (1,590 points), boosted largely by his ability to get to the free throw line. More than 30 percent of his career points came at the stripe, and his ability to draw fouls – and influence calls with his signature head-bob when contacted by defenders – produced many free points for his teams. His 616 career free throw attempts stands fifth all-time at WVU, and he converted 78.4 percent of those chances. He was also a tough competitor who never backed down from a challenge and during his senior year logged a remarkable 37.3 minutes per game of court time.
9 ) Daxter Miles: Playing in the shadow of all-timer Jevon Carter, Miles was a standout in his own right on Bob Huggins’ Press Virginia teams. Huggins joked about Miles walking out with the starters to secure his place in the first five during his freshman year, but he rarely relinquished that role, starting all but nine of his 136 career games. In addition to his 1,311 career points, he had 241 assists and 177 steals, and made possible the all-out pressure game that hounded opponents up and down the court. He also grabbed 149 offensive rebounds among his 330 career retrievals. His numbers would have been much higher had his career not paralleled Carter’s, but WVU’s win totals wouldn’t have been nearly as high, either.
8) Derek Culver: One season usually doesn’t provide enough stats or data to support inclusion on a list such as this, but it’s impossible to ignore Culver’s achievements while a freshman in 2018-19. Despite playing in only 26 games and starting 14, the Youngstown, Ohio, native averaged 11.5 points and 9.9 rebounds, and perhaps more impressively did so while playing only 27 minutes per contest. He also didn’t have the chance to pile up numbers against the lesser lights on the schedule, with only four of his games coming against non-Power 5 schools. As WVU’s sole inside threat on a team hampered by some bad attitudes and midseason departures, his performance was all the more remarkable. Check back at the end of his career, and his positioning on this list is likely to be much higher.
7) Devin Williams: A classic post grinder who pounded the boards on both ends of the court, Williams would have threatened the No. 2 spot on WVU’s all-time rebounding list had he stayed for his final year of eligibility. In just three seasons, he racked up 846 boards (8.3 per game) while also joining the school’s 1,000-point club with 1,134 in just 102 outings. The Cincinnati, Ohio, product used his bullish strength to great effect, bumping and banging his way into position to grab missed shots left and right, and became an effective shooter from mid-range and at the free throw line over the course of his career. He set the tone on the glass for the Mountaineers of the mid-decade, and was a starter in 99 of his 102 games.
6) Sagaba Konate: The most spectacular shot blocker in Mountaineer history, Konate was rivaled only by D’or Fischer in terms of volume and rate of rejections. He edged Fischer by one on the career list (191-190) and had the second-most single season rejection total (116 to Fischer’s 124). His huge swats and pins are what stand out, but Konate also developed dramatically as a mid-range shooter, making a quantum leap between his freshman and sophomore seasons. He extended that out to 3-point range during his abbreviated junior season, hitting 39 percent of his tries in eight games. He averaged 8.0 points and 5.5 rebounds for his career, but his totals of 13.6 and 8.0 in his last year hint at how much more he could have accomplished had he finished out the season and then returned for his senior year.
5) Juwan Staten: But for a coaching change, Staten might not be on this list. Transferring from the University of Dayton after one season, he was set to go to Penn State, but when coach Ed DeChellis got out of town ahead of a Nittany Lion firing posse to take another job (Navy), Staten ended up landing at WVU. Win, Mountaineers. In three seasons at West Virginia, Staten averaged 13.4 points per game and ran the offense with a high degree of efficiency from his point guard spot. He complied a 2.5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio during his career, recorded 111 steals and finished with 1,260 points overall. Working tirelessly on his outside shot, he made 36 percent of his 3-pointers during is senior year after going a combined 6-of-24 (25 percent) during his sophomore and junior campaigns.
4) Devin Ebanks: He played just two seasons for WVU, and barely qualifies in our criteria with his presence on the 2009-10 roster, but that’s the only place in which he squeaked over the bar. The Long Island City, New York, native had a big impact in multiple areas for the Mountaineers, fashioning a jack-of-all trades career that might have ended up as one of the greatest of all time had he stayed for more than half of his eligibility. He averaged 11.2 points and 7.9 rebounds in 69 career games while dealing out 176 assists, recording 48 blocks and snaring 65 steals, and those across-the-board numbers are just part of the picture. His presence at the top of the 1-3-1 defense with his 6-foot-9 frame was a nightmare for opposing players, who had trouble getting passes by his lengthy wingspan, and his ability to move the ball and break down defenses via both the pass and the dribble was a key factor as the Mountaineers won 54 of 73 games during his time on the roster.
3) Da’Sean Butler: The third all-time leading scorer in Mountaineer history earned first-team All-America honors and the 2010 Senior Class Award while helping lead to the Mountaineers to the 2010 NCAA Final Four. He was part of 107 wins at WVU, which is the top such mark in school history. An accomplished scorer, the Newark, New Jersey, native was also an underrated rebounder (800 in his career) to go along with his 2,095 points (14.3 per game). He worked hard to develop his jumper, but at his most dangerous was a shot creator who could drive, stop, hang and pop from all angles. His floater in the lane helped WVU win its only Big East tournament title in 2010 and cemented his spot as the event’s Most Outstanding Player. He holds school records for games and minutes played as well as double-figure scoring games.
2) Kevin Jones: A testament to the virtues of hard work, Jones made himself into one of the top players of any Mountaineer era. While not gifted with great jumping ability, he collected 1,048 boards in his four WVU seasons, ranking fourth on the all-time list, and still holds the top two offensive rebounding seasons (2011-12: 141 and 2009-10: 135) in school history. He made himself into a perimeter shooting threat to go along with his inside game and finished his career with 1,822 points, good for fifth all-time in a Mountaineer uniform. That production kept him on the court for an average of at least 33 minutes in each of his final three seasons, and in his senior campaign of 2011-12, he averaged an unheard-of 38.3 minutes per contest. Often snubbed for league and national honors, Jones earned the ultimate respect of head coach Bob Huggins, who often holds him up as the epitome of the work ethic required to excel in the game.
1) Jevon Carter: The Maywood, Illinois, native is the only player in NCAA history to compile 1,750 points, 530 rebounds, 550 assists and 330 steals in a career. It was that last stat, part of his relentless and dogged defensive play, that made him a Mountaineer legend. He forced many turnovers and affected countless opposing offensive sets, resulting in four first-team selections to the Big 12 All-Defensive team, a feat that no one else has accomplished. He was also the national defensive player of the year in his junior and senior seasons, and earned numerous Big 12 and All-American honors. Just for good measure, he was also a first-team Academic All-American, the winner of the national Senior CLASS Award, the Arthur Ashe Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the Big 12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year.