Always a Mountaineer: Jonnie West Finds Success in Scouting - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Always a Mountaineer: Jonnie West Finds Success in Scouting

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Jonnie West met up with the Mountaineers in Stillwater, Okla. earlier this season. Jonnie West met up with the Mountaineers in Stillwater, Okla. earlier this season.
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MORGANTOWN -

Jonnie West stood outside the visitor's locker room in Austin, Texas, sporting his blue and gold pullover. It wasn't West Virginia's hue of the colors, but rather that of the Golden State Warriors.

West was on the other side of the closed door as his former head coach shared a moment with his old team, going over the events that had just transpired on the court. The Mountaineers fell to the Longhorns 88-71, the second loss that West has witnessed up close on the road this season.

A Mountaineer himself, West has gone on to make a living scouting college athletes as professional prospects and his search for the next Warrior led him to cross paths with Bob Huggins along the way.

West currently serves as the Director of Player Personnel for the D-League's Santa Cruz Warriors while scouting for Golden State.

"It's a great situation," West said in January. "We're an organization that's on the rise and striving to win a championship like everybody else does. We've got a young team with a lot of talent and we look to build on that every year and continue to get better."

Jerry West's youngest son, Jonnie grew up around arguably the best judge of talent in the history of the game.

When former WVU guard Mike Gansey hung up his sneakers from his overseas career and began scouting, he said that he hoped his relationship with Jerry would help him land a position. Jonnie has had the fortune of spending his entire life watching his father work and was sure to soak in as much as he could.

"Most of what I learned from him was growing up when I wasn't even scouting," said West. "I spent a lot of time around him when he was working and around drafts and everything, so I had a lot of experience going into it. It helped prepare me to be in the situation now."

These days, West and Gansey are adversaries, with Gansey serving as the Cleveland Cavaliers' Director of Developmental League Operations. Although West has just begun his journey in the business, Gansey can already see the potential he brings to his job every day.

"Jonnie is great," said Gansey. "He knows players. He works hard and puts the time and energy into it. I could talk to him about players for hours. He is just a hoops junkie and you ask him about the 10th guy on a D-League team and he will know all that he can and can't do.

"His father and brother are both in the business and he has seen what it takes because he is a grinder. The sky is the limit for him."

West spent the majority of West Virginia's game at Oklahoma State glued to his iPad, furiously typing notes based on what he saw play out before him. That junkie mentality was on full display.

He learned a lot about what he would look for in a player based on his time around the WVU program, most notably from guys like Da'Sean Butler and Kevin Jones. The work those two put in outside of games and outside of practice is what turned them into successful basketball players and now he looks for the same qualities when he scouts.

Some of those intangibles aren't so easily discovered just in watching a basketball game, so West is sure to spend time with coaches to get a better idea of who the person is underneath the uniform.

"You look at talent that players have and then whether or not they have the work ethic to be at the next level. That's a big thing in the NBA," said West. "A lot of people get lost once they're in the NBA with not working and you've got to be a smart player, not just on the court, but off the court as well. There are a lot of factors that you look for. Obviously, if you can play or not. That's the main one."

In Austin, West had yet another chance to catch up with Huggins and the other assistants who still roam the bench at West Virginia. He cherishes those opportunities to sit and talk basketball now that he has made it his living. His old coaches have plenty of confidence in his ability to succeed in his profession.

"He's been around it his whole life and when you've got it, you've got it," said Huggins. "Jonnie's got it."

In truth, basketball has been West's life since he was born. Whether it was when he played or now scouting those who still do, the game is a part of who he is.

"It's not really work," said West. "I get to watch basketball for a living and it's a lot of fun. It's what I love doing." 

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