Eron Harris in Position to Lead Young Mountaineers - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Eron Harris in Position to Lead Young Mountaineers

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MORGANTOWN -

Bob Huggins' offseason has been so full of personnel moves that it would be easy to overlook the players who were with the team a year ago.

With three seniors and four transfers exiting the program and four freshmen and at least two transfers set to take their places, much of the talk has rightly been focused on the changeover and the changes that are expected as a result.

Those expectations will continue into the season for the newcomers, but the returning players are the ones who will shoulder much of the burden to help bring them along and lead them once the games begin.

Eron Harris, last season's breakout star for West Virginia basketball, understands that he has a responsibility this offseason that did not accompany the months before his freshman campaign.

"I've talked to Coach Huggins, I've talked to assistant coaches and they all want me to become more of a vocal and lead by example guy," Harris says. "I want to become that guy and I'm working on it."

Harris' growth was evident through the 31 games he played as a freshman. Averaging 9.8 points in 22 minutes of action, he transitioned from a player who showed flashes in limited minutes to the team's leading scorer, his evolution unfolded before his coaches, his teammates and his fans.

He displayed not only the talent needed to succeed in the Big 12, but also a fire of sorts, a determination and an attitude that made his coaches feel comfortable giving him a bigger load. He seems destined to become the face of the team in a way that a Da'Sean Butler or a Kevin Jones may have done before him.

High expectations, to be sure, and far too early to make that sort of prediction, but the staff believes there is something special about its sophomore guard.

"As we're fond of saying, Eron's one of us," says Huggins. "He competes, he wants to win, he's not afraid."

Huggins expresses his plan to utilize Harris not only as a two-guard, but also at the point, helping to get as many scorers on the court at the same time to turn around the shooting woes of a season ago.

Harris is open to whatever the staff feels is necessary to win. It's a mentality he has always had and he's hopeful that as his leadership skills develop, he can put that same mindset into each of WVU's freshmen and transfers and get them to feel the same way.

"What we were missing last year was heart and never giving up. Pride," says Harris. "It didn't really come down to skill. We had the talent, but we needed guys that wanted to win by any means. We have a chance to instill that in our players this offseason."

He acknowledges that a class with six players each coming in at 6-foot-7 or greater is one that will help a team whose coach prides himself on defense and rebounding, but he puts far more of the onus on himself and the holdovers from last year's team to create success on the court.

Harris read the words his former teammate, Deniz Kilicli, said with regards to last year's squad. Kilicli said there were "prima donnas" on the team and players who would laugh at what coaches told them rather than take it to heart. There was no team chemistry.

Kilicli took Harris under his wing last year and really helped show him the ropes and so one thing the sophomore most took away from the words his old teammate spoke is that he never wants anyone to have the opportunity to say such things about the Mountaineers again.

"We want to make sure nobody can say that next year," he says. "We want everybody to know that we're giving it our all at all times. If we lose, which nobody wants to do, we want to be able to say we tried our hardest and we played smart."

The work has already begun, with open gym sessions and weight training well underway in the WVU Practice Facility. Harris says he can tell that the coaches are holding the players far more accountable off the court and the in the classroom since the season ended.

The expectations outside the program may have fallen after a 13-19 season, but within it, they are as high as ever.

"It's the past," Harris says of his first season at WVU. "Last year was corrupted and it's in the past now. We learned from it and now we're going to move on."

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