Long Grateful for Opportunity on WVU Hoops Staff - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Long Grateful for Opportunity on WVU Hoops Staff

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James Long (center) returns to the WVU basketball team as assistant director of basketball operations. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) James Long (center) returns to the WVU basketball team as assistant director of basketball operations. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)
James Long and Josh Eilert speak before a game at the Coliseum in the 2016-17 season. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) James Long and Josh Eilert speak before a game at the Coliseum in the 2016-17 season. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)
MORGANTOWN -

When James Long nailed a 3-pointer on the opening possession of his senior night in March, he and the thousands in the WVU Coliseum that evening likely thought they were seeing him on that court for the last time.

A few months later, he is scheduled to be making many more appearances inside the Coliseum as the latest hire on Bob Huggins’ staff.

“Coach Huggins told me I was coming back and I was blown away,” Long said this week.

Longtime assistant Billy Hahn retired earlier in the offseason, which opened some possibilities along the team bench. Among the changes in responsibilities was the news that Long would transition from a senior walk-on to the role of assistant director of basketball operations.

His first real job after college will be right back at his alma mater, a Sweet Sixteen program, preparing for a season of high expectations with the Mountaineers.

“It is special because I went here, but it also is a phenomenal program,” Long, a Charleston native, said. “I’m getting to learn from one of the best coaches to ever coach the game of basketball and that’s what’s really special to me.”

Long is still getting accustomed to his new duties, much of which centers around work in the film room. He is busy cutting up specific clips of WVU and its opponents for meetings and film sessions that require reviews of various aspects of the game.

Helping in the adjustment is Josh Eilert. Newly named the director of basketball operations, Eilert has served as Huggins’ video coordinator and coordinator of basketball operations in 10 seasons with West Virginia.  

“I could go on and on about how great of a guy he is.  He’s one of the best people I’ve ever met,” Long said of Eilert. “He said he was going to be here with any questions I had in regards to the video. I didn’t realize how many questions I’d have, even now, until it happened. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like during the season, but I’m learning so much right now.”

In his senior season, Long appeared in about one-third of the games West Virginia played on the way to a 28-9 finish. Despite the lack of playing time, he was consistently mentioned among the most valuable players on the team for the work he put in that went unseen.

He was Jevon Carter’s gym partner throughout the week and as Carter was named MVP at the team’s postseason banquet, Long earned recognition as the “Unsung Hero” and “Team Man” for the Mountaineers.

His familiarity with next season’s returners should work to his advantage as he transitions from player to assistant.

“I know what they like, what they’re going to listen to, what they’re going to comprehend,” Long said of his now-former teammates. “I know how to get to a lot of them. I think from a video standpoint it’s going to be good because I’m going to know what they want to see and what’s going to be effective. Just knowing their personalities, I think, will help.”

Long came to Morgantown when he transferred from Wofford ahead of the 2013-14 season. A lifelong WVU sports fan, he considered the opportunity the realization of a childhood dream. Now, the dream continues in a new capacity.

“I’m at a loss for words because I can’t explain how much Huggs has done for me and how much he means to me,” Long said. “I was worried getting into the coaching world because it’s a tough business, but he does nothing but put me in positions to be successful and I can’t thank him enough.”

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