WVU’s Haley Looks For Versatility
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Like every newcomer on West Virginia’s basketball team, Jermaine Haley has been working to find his role.
The junior college transfer has a breadth of skills which can fit any position from point to small forward, and so far this season he’s seen action in all of those settings. Most recently, he came in to play some point against Pitt when the Mountaineer backcourt was struggling to protect the ball against the Panther press. That has followed stints at other positions, where he has put his focus on moving the ball ahead of shooting it.
“I’ve just been trying to adjust and figure out what Coach (Huggins) wants me to do,” Haley said after WVU’s 69-59 win. “I know different nights are going to be different things, so it’s just being comfortable with my role and making plays for the team.”
Among several other items on its wish list, West Virginia needs a point guard that can take some of the load off Beetle Bolden. Getting a swingman who can play multiple positions while mixing and matching with a number of different teammates would be an even bigger bonus.
Haley has the all-around ability to do that, but also needs to take open shots when they present themselves. A professed pass-first player, Haley has to make opponents respect his ability to make shots when left open, and also to guard him when he presses the ball to the rim.
One place where he has already done well is in transition. He’s by far the best ballhandler of any of WVU’s swingmen, and can push the ball upcourt in transition and find open teammates. His assist to turnover ratio, currently at an even 1-1, isn’t where he wants it, but it is currently the same as that of Brandon Knapper.
He also brings the additional benefit of an added rebounder, which is another area West Virginia needs improvement. He’s grabbing nearly three per game while seeing fewer than 14 minutes of action per contest, but that’s a number that the coaching staff hopes to see improve if he can grow into multiple roles.
Haley is confident that he can handle whatever duties the coaching staff hands to him, and sees those changing from game to game.
“Like I said, different matchups with different teams,” he explained of what he sees going forward. “You might see me bringing the ball up a little more. Usually when there are smaller guards I might be off on the wing a little more.”