Basketball season is approaching, and the Mountaineers men’s basketball team held media day on Oct. 17 and were able to shed light on some of their early points of emphasis for the season.
The team finished 15-18 overall and 9-9 in Sun Belt play, which was good for a sixth place finish in the conference.
“It’s great to be back,” head coach Jim Fox said. “Our guys have been working extremely hard since the end of last season.”
The Mountaineers are returning 13 players including four out of five starters. They are led by All-Sun Belt senior guard Ronshad Shabazz, who led the team in scoring and assists. Leading rebounder, junior Isaac Johnson is ready to step into his role as a team leader.
“I just have to be more confident,” Isaac Johnson said. “As each year went on I shot better and I shot more consistent, so each year I just try to be more confident in what I can do.”
The starting lineup also welcomes back senior forward Tyrell Johnson and sophomore guard Justin Forrest. Tyrell Johnson led the team in blocks and Forrest had an impressive freshman campaign where he averaged 13.5 points per game and led all freshmen in scoring in the Sun Belt.
Newcomers point guard Adrian Delph and power forward Breki Gylfason are two skilled freshman who have the potential to make a big impact on the court in their first year. Delph is a smooth scorer who averaged 22.4 points per game his senior year of high school.
Gylfason, a native of Iceland, averaged 7.3 points per game for Haukar Hafnarfjordur in the Domino’s League and helped his country reach the final eight of the 2017 FIBA U20 European Championship.
Transfer guards, junior Joseph Battle and redshirt sophomore Michael Bibby will also see the court after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. They both bring Division 1 experience from Tulsa and South Florida, respectively.
Battle will play right away, but Bibby will have to wait a little longer after injuring his foot in practice several days ago. He’s expected to be out around 6-8 weeks.
“Mike is a still a big part of what we’re going to do this year,” Fox said. “The second conversation I had with him was to get your butt in gear. The team needs you back and the program needs you back.”
The Mountaineers will open their season against Mars Hill on Nov. 6 at the Holmes Convocation Center before traveling to Alabama.
The team will also play feature in the Charleston Classic, where it will face Purdue and either Wichita State or Davidson. The tournament will be broadcast on ESPN 2.