Wheeling Central Catholic rising junior Chase Harler may have turned into the hottest in-state basketball recruit overnight.
Harler carried offers from Marshall, Elon and Winthrop – all Division-I programs. But he continued to wait for one more offer, hoping it would be one phone call away.
“[WVU] followed me in each tournament in July. The first tournament was at Myrtle Beach,” Harler said during a recent phone interview with West Virginia Illustrated. “I believe Coach [Bob] Huggins was at every one of my games, so I kind of had an idea right then and there. Then we went to Cincinnati and we were playing against OBC [Ohio Basketball Club] with Carlton Bragg who also has an offer from West Virginia – he’s a top 100 player. We were down by 31 and I kind of took it upon myself to bring my team back with my energy on defense and just getting my teammates involved and whatnot. We actually came back, but we ended up losing the game.
But I guess Huggins really saw how hard I played and my determination,” Harler added. “He really liked me right then and there. I talked to him right after that and he said ‘we can make you a Mountaineer.’ Right then I thought they were going to offer, and I wondered what they were going to do. Actually [on Sunday] at the end of the Elite Camp, I went up to his office with my family and he pretty much told me the offer was there. Then about five seconds later I verbally committed because before I even went into the office I knew what I wanted to do.”
In a matter of five seconds, Chase Harler had experienced his childhood dream coming to fruition. West VirginiaUniversity was the only school on his mind, and he leaped at the opportunity to become a Mountaineer.
Harler finished up his sophomore season in March for the Maroon Knights, averaging 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while leading his team to the West Virginia High School Basketball Class ‘A’ State Championship in a wild double-overtime thriller over Charleston Catholic.
The 6-foot-3 sophomore was officially on the map after dropping 30 points in their State Championship victory over Charleston Catholic.
“We kind of almost pride ourselves on out-working teams and expect nothing less than a state championship. The tradition kind of just runs through me. I’m expecting two more state championships before I leave there. I have another AAU season, so I have two more high school seasons and one more AAU season. So I’m expecting some big things,” he said.
Harler is a lengthy player, often times using his 6-foot-3 body frame to maneuver past defenders for points in the paint, along with rising up over defenders in the mid-range and perimeter game.
He discussed into further detail exactly what type of player WVU is getting.
“I’m definitely going to play extremely hard – that’s the only way I know how to play,” he explained. “I’m a team-first kind of guy. I’m always worried about my team. When people ask how I played, I tell them it only matters about wins and losses. I’m going to outwork everyone and I’m a very, very hard worker. I stay in the gym and I’m addicted to winning, so I can promise [WVU fans] a lot of wins.”
The last in-state recruit to earn a scholarship from Bob Huggins was Morgantown Mohigans center Nathan Adrian. Adrian saw plenty of playing time during his first year, even starting several games as well.
Although Harler is not expecting Adrian-like playing time when he arrives in 2016, he does believe that he will eventually be a star for the Mountaineers.
Perhaps that’s the reason Huggins pursued Harler as hard as he did – the confidence he possesses is unlike many others. Harler feels his relationship with Huggins will blossom into something special, which is the main reason he’s headed to Morgantown.
“I’m really into a straight forward coach, and Coach Huggins is pretty straight forward,” he said. “I can take some yelling. That’s not going to be a problem. I just feel like the way I play – how hard I play – and how hard I play on defense especially, I’m his type of player. He always preaches defense first and that’s how I play. He said he needs guys to play extremely hard and I feel like I fit that role.”
It will be two years until Chase Harler suits up in the old gold and blue. But the fact that his college dream has come true, he feels as though everything will now fall into place, paving the way for a stress-free final two years as a Maroon Knight.
“It’s pretty exciting. I honestly never expected to be here at this time. I’m just going into my junior year. I’m just trying to let it all sink in – just get better and get ready to head down to Morgantown in two years.”
Chase Harler is WVU’s first commit for the Class of 2016. Another in-state product, Levi Cook, is preparing for his senior year with Huntington Prep and will arrive at WVU in time for the 2015 season.
This is the time of the year when Bob Huggins and his coaching staff earn their salary. Recruiting is a long and windy road, often times causing coaches to have many sleepless nights. But for Chase Harler, Huggins didn’t need to recruit him. Chase was looking for a smile plus a handshake, which equaled a commitment to West Virginia.