Brandon Knapper was supposed to be an impact player right away for the WVU basketball. He may have to wait a full year to get that chance.
In September, Brandon Knapper underwent surgery to for a meniscus tear in his right knee, according to multiple news reports. Knapper was the crown jewel of the most recent recruiting class for West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins.
It’s not often that the state of West Virginia produces a highly-sought after basketball product, even though there have been several on the Mountaineers in recent years. Knapper, however, was a rare player that could have made an impact right away on any Division I team.
He played his high school ball at South Charleston High School, then went to Hargrave Military Academy last season. After the final season of prep work, he was set to join the WVU basketball team and play right away.
"“Brandon has been looking forward to putting on a WVU uniform for years now,” Bob Huggins said in a release. “We have all the confidence in Brandon that he will work diligently to get back on the court as soon as possible.”"
This surgery, however, will sideline him for several months. It’s been speculated that he could miss the entire season. That is a huge blow to a WVU basketball team that wants to compete for a Big 12 Conference title and a national championship. It’s another blow to the Mountaineers since two-year starter Esa Ahmad is out for a half-year suspension.
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According to NBCsports, Knapper was a three-star recruit coming out of high school. He furthered his game by playing in a competitive league with Hargrave. Most of his teammates signed other Division I scholarships, including Iran Bennett, who signed with Marshall.
So far, this offseason has held a storm cloud over the heads of Huggins and the Mountaineers. Elijah Macon leaves, Derek Culver heads to prep school, Esa Ahmad is suspended and now Knapper has surgery. It’s not like the WVU basketball team doesn’t have other pieces to compete, but those are four components that would have helped this mold into a stronger unit.
Like the big men who have an opportunity to play now that Macon is gone and Ahmad is suspended, the back up guards for the WVU basketball team should be licking their chops for a chance to play.
Last year, James Bolden showed he can come off the bench and provide meaningful minutes. He buys into Huggins’ defense-first mindset. His small frame and quickness can disrupt many offensive schemes. In turn, he is a decent 3-point shooter and can run the offense at the top of the key.
Right now, there are enough plans in place to keep the Mountaineers in the heat of the Big 12 race. But if there is another season-ending injury to a key player at any point, then it may be time to panic.