This year’s college basketball season was unfortunately cut short less than two weeks before its apex was set to begin, leaving fans across the country with countless questions that will never be answered. So, naturally, we at West Virginia Illustrated decided to pose another question that can’t be answered: which Mountaineer alumni would make the best all-time WVU men’s basketball team?
West Virginia basketball has taken a lot of different forms over the years, with wildly varying degrees of success, ranging from its historic 1959 national runner-up season to disappointing runs in the NIT and CBI tournaments. Between it all, WVU has had all sorts of legends don their Old Gold and Blue, so let’s take a look at the official All-West Virginia Illustrated Mountaineer basketball team.
With 13 All-Americans, 28 draft picks and a pair of Naismith Basketball Hall of Famers, this tough was tough to whittle down — so let’s start with the bench:
- Rod Thorn: One of two Mountaineers to be permanently enshrined in the Hall of Fame, Thorn had quite the career in basketball. He played three seasons on the Mountaineers’ varsity squad, averaging over 20 points in both of them. Plus, he is the only player in West Virginia history to be officially designated a state Natural Resource. When his playing days were over, he traded his jersey for a suit and became a coach before moving to the front office of the Chicago Bulls. In 1982, he drafted a guard from North Carolina named Michael Jordan, kicking off a career as an executive until he semi-retired in 2015.
- Kevin Jones: The native of Mount Vernon, NY slowly saw his responsibilities grow on the court in his four years at West Virginia, going from averaging just 6.3 points per game to a 19.9-point per game clip in his senior year. He was an integral piece of the 2010 Final Four team as a sophomore, before earning consensus second team All-American honors in 2012. Jones was a weapon for WVU due to his quickness despite his large frame, as well as a jump shot that made him tough for Big East defenders to stop.
- Wil Robinson: Standing 6-feet 1-inch tall, Robinson is one of the greatest scorers in West Virginia history. He averaged over 20 points in all three of his seasons with WVU, logging the highest average in school history at 29.4 points per game in 1972. The Mountaineers were not the strongest during his time (they finished just 13-11 in his senior year) but he finished on a high note by scoring 42 points in a 102-90 win over Pitt.
- Ron “Fritz” Williams: Arguably the best home-grown talent to not wear No. 44, Fritz Williams could play all game and not get tired. He averaged 36.87 minutes per game — still a program record — as he started every single game he played in his three years at West Virginia. For his career, Williams averaged 20.1 points and 6.0 assists per game.
- Joe Alexander: Renowned for his work ethic and attacking of the rim, Alexander’s junior year alone was enough to make him a lottery pick in 2008. Mountaineer fans will remember his performance in that year’s Big East Tournament well, when he scored 34 points against UConn in a nailbiter to advance to the semifinals. He now plays pro ball in Israel, where he holds dual citizenship.
- Lloyd Sharrar: What’s a bench without some boards? While Sharrar wasn’t dazzling fans in the box scores with his scoring totals, Sharrar was a key piece of a Mountaineer squad that reached No. 1 spot in the national polls, mostly due to his rebounding ability. He grabbed 13.4 boards every trip to the court, including a career-high 28 against William & Mary in his senior year.
Without further ado, here are the starters for the All-WVI squad:
Bob Huggins, coach
This one may be a no-brainer. Huggins may not have the longevity of Fred Schaus, but he’s the only WVU coach that can brag a history as a player as well as one of the highest win totals in college basketball history (that’s still growing). Plus, he is responsible for one of the only two Final Fours in program history. Need we say more?
Jevon Carter, guard
Arguably the best defender to wear the Old Gold and Blue, Carter was a four-year stalwart for Bob Huggins as he led the Press Virginia revolution. Along with some talent around him, he lifted the Mountaineers to three Sweet Sixteen appearances as he made marked improvements in his game in all four seasons. He finished as a two-time National Defensive Player of the Year, a consensus second team All-American and a finalist for the Wooden Award.
Jerry West, guard
Again, a no-brainer. While Jerry West sits with Rod Thorn in the Hall of Fame, he beat his successor out as the first Mountaineer to have his No. 44 jersey retired. West leads the program’s record books with 2,309 career points and 1,240 rebounds as he took the Mountaineers to their only National Championship game in school history. He went on to have an historic career with the Los Angeles Lakers and his silhouette is still used today as the logo for the NBA.
“Hot Rod” Hundley, guard
Rod Hundley was a versatile player for the Mountaineers, as well as one of the top recruiters for Jerry West. Unfortunately, as West was starting his career in Morgantown, Hundley was beginning his career with the Lakers — the Minneapolis Lakers, that is. The Charleston native averaged over 20 points in all three of his season with the Mountaineers, adding double-digit rebounds to that stat line as a junior and a senior. He spent six years with the Lakers, playing in two All-Star games and sharing his last few seasons with a budding West. He went on to become a broadcaster in the NBA before officially earning his degree from WVU in 2000.
Da’Sean Butler, forward
The centerpiece of the 2010 Final Four team, Butler established himself as one of the best players in the Big East during his upperclassman years at WVU. He averaged 17.1 and 17.2 points respectively as a junior and senior while leading the Mountaineers through the NCAA Tournament in his final year. The image of Bob Huggins consoling an injured Butler on the floor in Indianapolis is one that is burned into the minds of Mountaineer fans across the country, but a reminder of how much Butler meant to WVU hoops during his time.
Kevin Pittsnogle, center
Standing 6-foot-11 with a laser three-pointer, Pittsnogle was a dominant big man in the Big East in all four of his years at WVU. His versatility made him a difficult player to guard as many teams found out in the NCAA Tournament, including top-ranked Louisville in 2005 — Pittsnogle knocked down a career-high 6 three-pointers against the Cardinals as WVU fell in the Elite Eight. As a senior, he was first team All-Big East as he led the Mountaineers to the Sweet Sixteen in 2006.
Did we leave anyone on the list? Is someone here that shouldn’t be? Let us know on social media!