Lamont West Finds Inspiration from Mother's Visit - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Lamont West Finds Inspiration from Mother's Visit

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Lamont West scores a career-high 23 points against Texas. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) Lamont West scores a career-high 23 points against Texas. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)
MORGANTOWN -

The story is quite familiar: A young basketball player steps out onto the court in front of a special lady and he puts together the best game of his career, dedicating his success to that admirer in the stands.

On Monday night, that is exactly what happened for West Virginia redshirt freshman Lamont West, only the special lady in the stands was none other than his mother.

“Every game she’s ever been to, I always play like this,” West said. “If she comes, I always try to impress her. I always want to play my best.”

With his mother watching, West scored a career-high 23 points with six 3-pointers as he sparked a WVU offense that was struggling to get started in the early going.

It could be said that West’s mother is the reason he can have a night like he did in the 77-62 win over Texas because she is the one who taught him the game of basketball. She is the one who had success on the court long before West ever did.

Tonya Kirk, West’s mother, was a four-year starter at Purdue from 1993-96 who helped lead the Boilermakers to the Final Four. When West was growing up, his mother was instrumental in developing his love for the sport.

“I wasn’t really that good in basketball,” West said. “When I first started, I didn’t really like basketball that much.”

Between his junior and senior years of high school, West made major improvements and his growth garnered interest from coaches like WVU’s Bob Huggins. He accepted a scholarship to play for the Mountaineers, but he did so knowing that nothing would be handed to him in his college career.

“They would tell me when you come here, you’ve got to play your hardest, you’ve got to earn your keep and that’s what I wanted to do,” West said. “When I heard that, I thought it would be a good program to come to.”

West spent his first season packing on muscle and watching his teammates from the bench. He knew he wasn’t ready then. He knew he would be now.

On Monday night, Huggins called on West to be a spark off of the bench with the team struggling to get started and facing a quick 10-point deficit.

He was a walking heat check; ready to test his range the instant he stepped onto the court. He chucked up his first 3-point attempt mere seconds after checking into the game and he missed, but that didn’t stop him. He kept chucking.

A minute later, he made his first 3-pointer of the night. Then he made a second and a third and a fourth and by the end of the half, he had connected on five shots from beyond the arc.

“When I’m on the court, I always feel like I’m going to hit a shot. That’s what I do. But today was just a different feeling,” West said.

For the game, West hit 7-of-10 shots, including six from the perimeter. The performance should come as no surprise to anyone who watched his pregame routine. West stood about 25 feet from the basket and launched deep 3-pointers with ease, the majority of which hit nothing but net.

“When I was growing up, I always worked on my jumper, so I always knew I had a jumper and I just needed to go to the right program to let me shoot,” West said. “This program will let me shoot and they put me in the right position so I can shoot. When I get the opportunity, I let it go.”

Through 27 games, West has the second-most made 3-point field goals on the team with 32. He converts on 39.5 percent of his attempts, which is second only to James “Beetle” Bolden for players who have attempted more than 30 this season.

He says his goal when he checks into the game is to provide energy. He doesn’t want there to be a clear difference in play on the court when he is called on as a substitute for Nathan Adrian or Esa Ahmad.

Multiple times during the game broadcast, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla referenced West’s potential not only as a key contributor to WVU for the remainder of his career, but also as a prospect in the NBA.

“I’ve told a number of my NBA buddies about him,” Fraschilla said. “He’s not on anybody’s radar yet, but give him time.”

West has proven that time is all he needs. It is what he used to develop from a bad basketball player to a college scholarship recipient to one of the most pleasant surprises for this year’s Mountaineers.

Along the way, he is showing that he is his mother’s son. He displays her work ethic and he hopes the result will be that he one day enjoys the same success she did in her time on the court.

“She went to the Final Four. That’s one of my goals,” West said. “I feel like I can do that. She’s behind me. She’s supporting me, so I feel like I can do that.”

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