Jones Snubbed, Huggins Hopes WVU Rallies Together - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Jones Snubbed, Huggins Hopes WVU Rallies Together


Kevin Jones is the type of person who plays for the name on the front of his jersey rather than the one that dons its back.

And yet, it would appear that the name on the front of his jersey may be the reason why he was denied the Big East's top individual honor during his final trip home to New York City as a member of the West Virginia University basketball team.

Marquette's Jae Crowder, not Jones, was picked as the conference's Player of the Year when the award was announced Tuesday between sessions of the Big East tournament.

WVU head coach Bob Huggins expressed his displeasure with the decision via his Twitter account when reports broke late Monday, but on Tuesday he addressed the matter by calling a brief press conference at the team hotel across the street from Madison Square Garden.

"I thought K.J. would be the player of the year," Huggins said. "You look like what he did in scoring and rebounding, you take seven freshmen and a transfer with two other guys that have been in the program at all and win 19 games and really maybe could've, should've won a bunch more – I thought he was phenomenal."

There are not many reasons that have met these ears that would adequately explain the thought process in a voter's mind who chose Crowder over Jones. But that isn't even what bothered Huggins as much as the announcement Sunday that Jones was not a unanimous selection to the league's first team.

"Whoever it was who didn't deem him first team, I mean, how can he not be a unanimous pick for first team?" Huggins asked. "Who can name six players in the league that are better than what he is?"

That is a question that should be posed to anyone with a vote. What season could any of those who make these decisions been watching if they somehow felt there were six players who were superior to the one who led the league in both points and rebounds for just the third time in Big East history?

If Marquette's Buzz Williams was among those who didn't vote that way, as some have suggested, the ballot is even more difficult to imagine. Williams cannot vote for his own players. Two of his – Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom – made the first team.

Somehow he would have had to select six players aside from those two who he believed had a better season than Jones. But these ballots do not – and should not – become public, so we don't know these things for certain.

Is it possible, as many have suggested, that the conference WVU is leaving behind this season has somehow conspired against the Mountaineers to first deny the player of the year honor to football quarterback Geno Smith and now Jones?

"I don't know. I mean, you'd hope not," Huggins said when asked. "You'd hope that wouldn't be the case, but you know, you'd hope that people would do the right things because this isn't about anybody but K.J. It's not about our university, it's not about me, it's not about anything else. It's about K.J."

Huggins points out that just a year ago, UConn's Kemba Walker was also not a unanimous pick, and then as today, he couldn't understand how that was the case. Walker was also deemed unworthy of being named the player of the year.

While the notion of a vendetta against WVU should not be taken as fact, the way this scenario played out is no surprise from the league's front office.

Commissioner John Marinatto has appeared petty in much the same vain of a jilted lover many times since West Virginia made it clear it no longer wanted anything to do with a conference that could not keep its members engaged and build stability toward a successful future.

He has ignored or declined questions regarding WVU as though it weren't still a member of the conference and while desperately searched through his little black book for programs to fill the enormous void the Mountaineers left behind.

He has tried to prove that he doesn't need West Virginia, and perhaps he doesn't, but along the way there have been signs that he and the Big East would like to ignore the fact that at least for now, they are still in a relationship.

But Huggins is right. This is about Jones and no one else.

"I feel bad for K.J. I feel bad for the kind of year that he's had and the kind of person that he is because I know it meant a lot to him," says Huggins. "He was disappointed. And K.J. doesn't show a lot of emotion, you know what I mean? I mean, he really doesn't, but obviously he was disappointed."

Huggins believes his team will use this snubbing as motivation to rally together as its run in the tournament begins on Wednesday.

"You'd hope so," he said. "Honestly, we've been kind of appealing to them that let's get Truck and K.J. out the right way. You hope so."

Jones is not the sort of player to dwell on such disappointments. He will return his focus to the name on the front of his jersey and the work that he came to New York to accomplish.

It wasn't a player of the year honor. It was a Big East championship. They don't vote for the winner in that category. It is earned.

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