After a rough stretch through January and early February, West Virginia basketball seems to being finding its rhythm again that helped them to their hot start to the season. After losing six games during a nine game stretch, the Mountaineers have found success again lately, winning three of their last four games including beat downs of Baylor and Iowa State this past week. This turnaround is happening at a much needed time for West Virginia, who have now slipped to the number 21 ranked team in the country at a 21-8 record. There are some noticeable changes to the Mountaineers’ game plan that are helping them win more games recently, but one thing has stayed constant for certain and that is the veteran leadership of senior point guard Jevon Carter. He set an NCAA record during West Virginia’s 85-70 victory over Iowa State that no player has ever reached before.
Carter is among the school’s most successful players in program history after yet another strong senior season. He is averaging 16.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and three steals per game this season while leading his team to another 20-plus win season and an expected trip to the NCAA tournament coming up next month. He was also the team’s leading scorer last season and has been a pivotal contributor to head coach Bob Huggins‘ squad since his freshman year in 2014, which includes two Sweet Sixteen and three NCAA tournament appearances. Carter put his name in the school record books earlier this season, breaking the all-time career steals school record. On Saturday, Carter made history on a level that no West Virginia player has ever been before with his NCAA record. He became the first Power Five conference player to record 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists, and 300 steals during their career in NCAA history. He scored 24 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and two assists during the Mountaineers’ win along with forward Esa Ahmad adding a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. This is such a great achievement by not only a West Virginia player, but any player in NCAA history. His all-around performances has been the catalyst of West Virginia basketball’s identity over the past four seasons.
He has brought his game to a whole new level this season, being the clear veteran leader of this team now coming out from behind the shadows of Juwan Staten, Devin Williams, and Nathan Adrian. Carter has exhibited great leadership traits and development as a player on and off the court throughout his entire college career, sharing the most experienced back-court in America with fellow senior guard Daxter Miles Jr. He has always been known as the heart and soul of the Mountaineers’ famous Press Virginia full-court press defense, but his development on the offensive end of the floor from being a role player his freshman season to the go-to-guy his senior season has been what has stood out in his improvement as a player. Carter is a workout warrior who is always the first and last player to leave the gym everyday. This development has now turned Carter into an all-around player who can impact a game in various ways and could help his chances at reaching the NBA next season.
His hard work has paid off big time, as Carter has led West Virginia to great success during his career at the school. He owns an NCAA record, multiple school records, was the 2016-2017 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year winner, was a part of All Big-12 teams each of his years in Morgantown. Carter is expected to be on the All Big-12 First Team, All Big-12 First Team defense, and the 2017-2018 Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year winner again this year, along with being a top-20 finalist for the Wendy’s NCAA Wooden Award for the national player of the year. While Carter has excelled with his individual play, his main goal is help his team get back to the Final Four for the first time since 2010. This team has plenty of talent and capability to reach San Antonio with Carter, block-machine Sagaba Konate, and the rest of the gritty Mountaineers led by coach Huggins, but consistency is a must going forward for this team. With the Mountaineers starting to hit their stride at the right time, they should be a team no one wants to play in March.