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Practice Facility Home for WVU Past, Present and Future

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MORGANTOWN -

Bob Huggins is still getting accustomed to his new office at West Virginia's practice facility.

The state-of-the-art building opened its doors to the men's and women's basketball programs toward the end of the season and while he is as comfortable as can be in the new digs, he realizes he may have forgotten one key addition to his own space.

"I think the only mistake I made was maybe I didn't soundproof my office. Their choice of music and mine are a little different," Huggins says of the players who are making use of the practice court this summer. "Our guys are in there all the time."

When he says our guys, he does not just refer to the current roster, but to plenty of former Mountaineer players as well.

The facility has become a second home to the likes of Da'Sean Butler, John Flowers and Alex Ruoff and is expected to welcome Joe Alexander shortly. Familiar names to WVU fans, each athlete is returning to Morgantown for one reason or another and using the facility to help rehab or simply get better at their craft.

Each one must be wondering how much different their experience as a Mountaineer would have been if rather than spending the summers checking schedules in the Coliseum or the student recreational center, they had one constant location with everything they could possibly desire to improve their game.

Their return is no surprise to Huggins, who has grown accustomed to former players-turned-friends coming back to spend time around the program and the campus they grew to love and appreciate.

"Guys have always done that," says Huggins. "I think one of the things that really helped us at Cincinnati was they came back. They were there during the summer, they would play with our guys, they became mentors to our guys."

As Huggins prepares for a second season with a young bunch, that mentoring can certainly come in handy. Knowing that his rising sophomores – and every member of the team – has consistent access to the sort of players and people he has graduated from his program gives the head coach some added peace of mind.

"When Da'Sean Butler sits down and tries to mentor somebody, they probably ought to listen," Huggins says. "Or Joe Alexander or Alex Ruoff – you look at the careers those guys had and maybe nobody came further than John Flowers. I think they've got a lot of good and very positive things to say."

In addition to current and former players, the future of the Mountaineers will be coming through the doors this summer, too. Not only will WVU welcome three freshmen to the team, but also a number of recruits, hoping they will be swayed to commit by the practice facility.

"We've had a whole bunch of people through," Huggins says. "You've got to be out of your mind to walk out and say, ‘Oh, I wasn't really all that impressed with that.' It's the best practice facility in America. There isn't anything better. Kids today seemingly go all over the place to look and they're not going to find anything that's even close."

It cannot hurt Huggins' cause if those recruits come through the facility and see two players who were selected in the NBA Draft along with some familiar names in the world of college basketball.

Butler, Alexander, Flowers and Ruoff are each still working at professional careers and feel their best place to stay in shape and work in the gym is in Morgantown.

The next batch of Mountaineers may feel the same way once they have toured the building.

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