WVU Looking At Juco Guard For Help
As head coach Bob Huggins looks to “fix” his broken Mountaineer men’s basketball team, he’s leaving no stone unturned.
West Virginia has already signed two high school prospects for the class of 2019 – center Oscar Tschiebwe (6-9, 250 lbs., Kennedy Catholic H.S./Hermitage, Pa.) and guard Miles McBride (6-2, 181 lbs., Archbishop Moeller H.S./Cincinnati, Ohio). It also has a walk-on commitment from Spencer Macke.
A McDonald’s All-American who is rated among the top 50 prospects in the country, Tshiebwe certainly is a player who many expect will help Huggins’ program immediately next year as a true freshman. And McBride, who is averaging 14.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.4 steals for the 20-0 Crusaders, who are the No. 1 ranked Division I (large school) team in the state of Ohio, also appears capable of aiding WVU from year one.
Huggins is looking for additional help beyond just Tshiebwe and McBride, though.
His search has taken him near and far, but one of his stopping points has been Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. There he has gotten an up-close look at Pride shooting guard Sean McNeil, who currently leads all junior college scorers in the nation with an average of 31.0 points per game. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound freshman also averages 6.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for 15-8 SCC. Having played in 22 games this season, McNeil has made 217-of-445 field goal attempts (48.8 percent), 97-of-235 three-point tries (41.3 percent) and 151-of-170 free throws (88.8 percent).
A 2017 graduate of Cooper High School in Union, Ky., which is just southeast of Cincinnati, McNeil averaged 16.9 points and 6.5 rebounds as a senior. Though he got some recruiting interest from mid-major Division I programs, he signed with Bellarmine University in Louisville, which is one of the country’s top Division II programs. The Knights won the D-II national championship in 2011 and also have advanced to the semifinals in 2012 as well as 2015, where it lost to Fairmont State University.
But a week after enrolling at Bellarmine in the fall of 2017, he started to have doubts about his future path, and returned to his home in northern Kentucky. He spent the rest of the 2017-18 academic year taking courses at a local community college that didn’t offer athletics. But he started to get the itch to play basketball again, which led him to Sinclair C.C. in Dayton.
It didn’t take him long to rediscover his shooting touch.
In his first game for the Pride on Nov. 7, he scored 40 points. In his fifth game, he set a new school single-game scoring record, posting 55 points against Bryant & Stratton College. He made 16-of-28 shots in that game, as well as 9-of-14 three-pointers and 14-of-16 foul shots. McNeil hasn’t eclipsed that 55-point performance since, but he has scored 30 or more 11 times and 40 or more five times. Only once this season has he been held below 20 points – a six-point outing on a 2-of-14 shooting effort against Wayne County C.C. All that has earned him the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference Player of the Week five times so far this season.
Such scoring almost immediately began to earn McNeil scholarship offers from Division I programs, even though it wasn’t that long ago he was ticketed to a Division II school. Dayton, Western Kentucky, Toledo and James Madison were some of those who offered first. Then West Virginia became the first Power 5 school to extend a scholarship, and now others like Virginia are making trips to Dayton to check out McNeal, who as an academic qualifier will have three years of eligibility remaining after this season.