WVU Signee Haley Has Clear View At Point
Throughout his career, coaches tried to move Jermaine Haley off the point and to a wing or forward position more suited to his height, which topped out at the six-foot, seven-inch mark. Despite physical attributes that seemed to slot him into one of those off the ball spots, he always managed to fend off those efforts.
“I’ve always loved to pass the ball and get my teammates involved,” the recent West Virginia men’s basketball signee said. “That’s more important to me that getting points for myself. Coaches always tried to move me, but that’s what I liked to do the most, so I’ve stayed at the point.”
Haley isn’t opposed to playing other positions. He just believes that his abilities and approach to the game are best suited to running the offense and distributing the ball.
“I can definitely play multiple positions,” he said. “I can switch off and guard anyone from the one to the four. Coach Huggins told me he will probably move me around a lot, but he also said he needs another point guard, so I will get the chance to play some there.”
On its still-in-flux 2018-19 roster, the Mountaineers have ballhandling candidates in returnees Beetle Bolden and Brandon Knapper. (Chase Harler, the other guard on the current roster, and walk-on Taevon Horton are both two guards and not candidates for point duties.) Freshman Jordan McCabe will also join the ranks as a potential point, but the addition of Haley gives WVU more flexibility in the backcourt. Bolden and Knapper might thrive better as off guards if Haley shows the ability to handle the point. That would also relieve any pressure on McCabe to contribute early, although the confident Wisconsin native certainly won’t back down from the challenge.
At point, Haley views his height and size as a big advantage out front.
“I can see over the defense, and I can protect the ball,” he said of his frame, which is strongly constructed at 215 pounds. “I don’t have a problem with people defending me. I also feel like I’m the quickest guy on the floor, so I can stay with the smaller guards when I’m on defense.”
While it might seem odd that Haley found a connection with West Virginia, there’s a geographic explanation that sits at the root of his signing with the Mountaineers. One of his stops during a peripatetic childhood was in Washington, D.C., while his father, Jermaine Sr., played for the NFL team there.
“Our family stayed with my father wherever he went in pro football,” Haley said. “Being together as a family was important. So, when my dad was in Washington, I started following West Virginia. I’ve known about WVU for a while.”
Stops on his father’s seven-year pro career included Miami, with the Dolphins, and the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. The Canadian ties also include an even stronger one from his mother Paula.
“My mom is from Canada, so when my dad’s football career was over, we moved there,” he said explaining his Vancouver, B.C., hometown listing. There, he attended Barnaby South High School before returning to the U.S. in pursuit of his basketball career.
The NFL travel prepared him well for that journey, which included stops at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas for a prep year, a season at New Mexico State and another at Odessa College. When WVU got into the recruiting picture while he was at Odessa, he didn’t have to start at square one.
“Meeting with Coach Huggins, I just like what he says,” Haley explained. “He wants to win and work hard, and that’s what I want to do too.”
An accomplished defender and his juco league’s co-defensive player of the year, Haley understands Huggins’ emphasis on that side of the game, and will be working over the next month to ensure he is in peak physical shape to withstand the grind.
“I’ve been with a personal trainer since the end of the season, and even when I go back home, I’ll keep that up. Right now, we’re looking at June 5 for me to come [to West Virginia]. I’m all good with graduating and qualifying, so I will just be staying in shape and working on my shot.”