Logan Routt's Improvement Adds More To West Virginia's Post GameThe Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va. — Justin Jackson The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.
Oct. 09--MORGANTOWN, W.. Va. -- It only happens on a rare occasion, West Virginia guard Chase Harler said, but there are times in practice when he finds himself guarding one of the Mountaineers' trio of big men.
His strategy: "I just kind of close my eyes and hope I don't get slapped in the face or something like that," he said.
There is no doubt the Mountaineers will lean on the bulk and strength of their post players to help rebound from last season's 15-21 season.
Derek Culver you know. Freshman Oscar Tshiebwe already has made headlines as a five-star recruit and a McDonald's All-American.
Logan Routt you know, too, but maybe not this Logan Routt.
"He's changed his body," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "He's leaner and stronger than he was before. He can move around much better now. He can score the ball in the post, which he never could really before. He's blocking shots above the rim."
At 6-foot-11, Routt is the tallest of WVU's trio, but he appears to no longer be just a big body to help occupy some space on defense.
That was evident this summer during the Mountaineers' exhibition tour of Spain, where the former Cameron standout led WVU in scoring at 17 points per game over three contests.
The Mountaineers didn't exactly face Texas Tech's Norense Odiase or Kansas' Dedric Lawson in Spain, but there is still a good story to tell on Routt's development.
"I have memories, like my freshman year, I'd catch it and would be wide open and I was like, 'Ah, I'm not going to shoot this. I'm going to pass it out,' " Routt said before practice Tuesday. "I wouldn't say I was scared, but it was just different for me back then. I came from a Class A school, but now my confidence level is really high."
Huggins, who awarded Routt a scholarship this summer, said he doesn't hesitate to count on the senior forward.
"He's scoring on jump hooks. He's more confident with his back to the basket," Huggins said. "Because of the work he's put into his game over the years, he's a much different player, but it's because he's put the time in. He cared about getting better."
Speaking with WVU players, it's not just a twin-towers look with Culver and Tshiebwe the Mountaineers feature down low.
"Derek and Oscar get into some pretty good battles in practice, but I watch all three of them and they get into it pretty good," WVU forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. said. "Logan challenges them both underneath for rebounds. Logan knows how to use his size to his advantage and that's really shown so far."
All three bring something different to the table. Culver has a unique ability to power through double-teams, something he faced often last season, while Tshiebwe has the ability to get out and run the open floor. Routt's size and improved ability ensures there are no breathers for the defense when Culver and Tshiebwe are on the bench.
"Just going against them in practice every day, they make me better and I know I make them better," Routt said. "Oscar running the floor is only going to make me run the floor more. Me getting inside rebounds is only going to make him rebound more. It's a chain reaction.
"It comes with confidence, really. Knowing I'm a senior and I've been here for so long. I've always worked on my game."
Huggins said there was no update on the eligibility of 6-foot-7 forward Gabe Osabuohien, a transfer from Arkansas. Unless Osabuohien receives a waiver from the NCAA for immediate eligibility, he'll have to sit out this season due to transfer rules.
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