Friday, October 23, 2009

Huggin' The Block (Continued)

I know this is risky, but I foresee West Virginia pulling off a mammoth upset in the Big East Tournament and maybe even the Big Dance.

WHY?

Fundamentally sound NBA prospect Devin Ebanks has added some bulk onto his once-spindly frame, and his playing weight appears to be 220. Da'Sean Butler has proved himself as an explosive scorer.

Albeit streaky, Butler can score buckets by the bunches when he's feeling it. Just ask Villanova, who he hit up for a 43-spot in a jaw-dropping performance last year.

Three-point sniper Casey Mitchell, a JUCO transfer, knows he can't show up to the Wild Wild West Big East shootout with a water gun.

If Mitchell pans out, he can fill the scoring and shooting void of the departed Alex Ruoff, who averaged 15.7 points while burying 88 treys in 2008-09.

Don't sleep on their star power or their oceanic depth. Butler and Ebanks are both All Big East first team candidates. If Butler continues to score with the best of them, with his barrage of buckets and offensive onslaughts emerging every game, he can vault into the center of Big East Player of the Year race.

Is this lavished praise I'm showering on this year's WVU squad? If Butler, the Jersey-bred baller who averaged 17.1 points last season, can make consistency a necessity, it's more reality than rumor.

The combination of Butler and dieseled-up Ebanks--who starred at in the rich recruiting real estate Bishop Laughlin High School in Brooklyn--can be lethal.

Especially considering Ebanks now has some muscle on those longer than the Nile River arms of his.

"Dev's gained 30 pounds," Huggins recently told SNY's Adam Zagoria, the widely-recognized hoops blogger who operates www.zagsblog.com.

"With (Ebanks) and (Butler), I think we have as good a pair of forwards as there are in the country."

The torrent of talent comes mainly from the metropolitan area with Ebanks, Butler (Bloomfield Tech HS in Jersey), Kevin Jones (Mount Vernon HS, N.Y.), Darryl "Truck" Bryant (St. Raymond's HS, NYC), Danny Jennings (Staten Island, N.Y. native played under Jere Quinn at St. Thomas More in Oakdale, Conn.), and Wellington Smith (Jersey product played at the prestigious Blair Academy, the former hardwood home of Charlie Villanueva and Loul Deng).