Multiple Roles In The Cards For WVU’s Haley
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Junior college transfer Jermaine Haley has seen a good bit of the world in his basketball travels, so it’s no surprise that he’s adaptable to different situations. He’s facing another one this year as he joins a West Virginia team in need of help at both guard positions. Graduation, injuries and a lack of experience in Division I have combined to make the point and off-guard spots a position in need of stabilization, and Haley might be the player to do so.
“Coach has been putting me around everywhere,” said Haley, who is a native of British Columbia, where he played his his prep basketball before going to New Mexico State. Even though he started half of the games during his freshman season there, he still decided to transfer, and moved on to Odessa College in Texas, where he totaled 10.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. That all-around ability caught the eyes of the Mountaineer staff, which was looking for a player who could man multiple positions in both the frontcourt and the backcourt.
“This isn’t my first go-round at the D1 level,” the outgoing Haley said when asked about the transition to WVU. “The year out of Division I made it a little tough to adjust, but once we got started and got back into the flow of things, everything has been going pretty good.”
That’s just the first part in earning playing time in any system, however. Knowing where to run is one thing, but knowing where to go with the ball is another. It’s not just a matter of making a pass – it’s knowing when and where to pass it that makes the difference between an efficient offense and one that stalls out.
Fortunately for WVU, it has in Haley a person who embraces the distribution game.
“I’ve always been a pass-first, pass-second type of player. Passing to me is more than everything,” the 6-foot-7 Haley explained. “I like getting my teammates involved and seeing them get a bucket off my pass more than me getting a bucket myself.”
That’s an excellent base from which to build, and West Virginia will likely need it. Both Brandon Knapper and Jordan McCabe have talent, but they will take time to learn all the nuances of the point at WVU, as neither has played a minute of a real college game. Haley, who has some of that experience, will likely get appreciable minutes there, as well as at the off guard, where Beetle Bolden continues to battle a series of injuries.
“I understand the system, and ff I get the ball I’ll have the freedom to push. If you buy into it, you’ll get on the floor,” said Haley, with a veteran’s eye toward the things that lead to playing time. “I’ll do whatever coach wants me to do, pretty much.”
Haley has settled in quickly, liking the way that West Virginia fuels its offense with its defense. He does want to improve one aspect of his offensive game.
“I need to have confidence shooting the ball. I have played point guard at other places I have been at, but coach wants me to do a little bit of everything,” he said of Huggins. “When I get the ball I need to think attack.”
That, like West Virginia’s point guard situation as a whole, will be a work in progress. With the knowledge that he’s finally arrived at a place where he feels he fits, Haley thinks he can accomplish what needs to be done.
“I know I am going to stay here and finish my career so I’m happy I finally got to the level and place I should be at,” the junior noted. “This is by far the best place I have been, and I’m very excited to get the season started.”