By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
The remaking of the West Virginia basketball team has begun with sophomore guards Jabarie Hinds and Aaron Brown and sophomore forward Volodymyr Gerun asking for and being granted their releases so they can transfer.
“I’ve said all along they were good guys and I wish them nothing but the best,” Coach Bob Huggins said.
The housecleaning was expected after Huggins’ first losing season since his first year as a head coach, a year in which he was increasingly critical of the effort and attitude of his players. Huggins does not expect any further players to be leaving the program, meaning that forward Keaton Miles and guard Gary Browne, each of whom regressed from their freshman years, will return next year.
It was a feeling that was echoed by senior Deniz Kilicli once the season ended, calling some of his teammates “prima donnas” without naming them. That mask now apparently is off.
Hinds started 26 of 32 games this past season and averaged 7.4 points a game but had a terrible time of shooting the ball, hitting just 35.1 percent of his field goal attempts and only 27.6 percent of his 3-point attempts.
He also had more turnovers (55) than assists (52).
“I just want to say thank you to my teammates & the fans for all the love and support I received,” Hinds tweeted after his pending transfer was announced.
Brown played sparingly in his sophomore season after a freshman year in which he showed some promise, playing in 32 games, starting one, and averaging 4.2 points a game.
But last year he appeared in just 17 games, his playing time cut from 15 minutes a game to 6 and that, he told West Virginia Illustrated, is the reason he decided to leave.
“I just never played,” said Brown. “I’m not going to stick around if I’m not going to be playing. I’ve been thinking about it a lot throughout the season because it was rough since we weren’t winning and I was on the bench feeling as though I could help the team out if I got put in the game, but I didn’t.
“I think it’s best for me if we part ways.”
It’s thought that Brown might be heading for Fairmont State because one of his biggest boosters while he was at WVU was current Falcons coach Jerrod Calhoun.
Recruited as a shooter, Brown hit only 24.1 percent of his field goals and 27.3 percent of his 3s.
Huggins found fault with his approach, especially in the rebounding area.
“I talked with Coach and he wanted me to rebound — I mean, this is as much as I can say — he said he wanted me to rebound more,” said Brown. “I guess I wasn’t rebounding, so he didn’t play me.”
Gerun came in late and played only seven games, totaling 33 minutes on the court. He averaged just 1.3 points a game.
Huggins now has two additional scholarships available and is actively recruiting to find some help, mostly at guard.
He addressed his need for scorers in the front court with his first four recruits, which include 6-8 Devin Williams from Cincinnati, 6-8 Elijah Macon from Columbus, Ohio, 6-9 Brandon Watkins from Decatur, Ga., and 6-7 Nathan Adrian from Morgantown High.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.