West Virginia forward Tucker DeVries talks decision, challenges regarding roster rebuild

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Members of the West Virginia basketball fandom will likely have difficulty recognizing most of the faces on the roster this coming season.

After a 2023-24 campaign which saw the Mountaineers suffer the most losses in program history, WVU parted ways with interim Josh Eilert and brought in a new head coach in Darian DeVries. Now just one player from last season’s roster -- Ofri Naveh -- remains inside the program as DeVries resets and rebuilds WVU basketball.

One new piece to the puzzle is quite familiar with the man now at the helm of the program and the type of ship he likes to run. That player is Tucker DeVries, the son of Darian DeVries whom earned back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors at Drake while playing for his father.

The younger DeVries stopped in for an interview last Monday with WVU media outlet Hoops from the Hills and one of the major topics of discussion was his father’s choice to rebuild the roster rather than make a concerted effort to bring back more of the established roster from last season, as well as the challenges that decision presents.

“I think you can look at it two ways,” DeVries said. “ I definitely think there are pros and cons to everything, especially in that scenario.”

The new coaching staff is likely to bring a different style of play and culture to the program than what last season’s roster -- recruited by former head coach Bob Huggins -- is accustomed to. It’s also perfectly plausible to assume that the change in how the program is operated might not have meshed with the departing talent, which makes the slew of transfers following this past season understandable.

“Not every player fits every coach and [Coach DeVries] is just bringing in guys that fit his system,” DeVries said. “That’s not my decision and I don’t know how those conversations went.”

DeVries also added that “there’s a lot of respect for what’s been done” by those entering the program. That group will face an uphill battle, but DeVries is expected to be a leader within the program, and he certainly doesn’t seem to have many concerns about the team that has been assembled so far.

“[Coach DeVries] really likes everyone he’s brought in,” he said. “He’s going to do everything he can to get us to play together as a group, and I feel confident that the guys he’s brought in are going to want to do the same thing as well. I’m looking forward to it, I really like the group, and I'm excited to get started.”

DeVries mentioned that he knew some members of the new roster beforehand, and that there are others that he’s been in touch with since their addition to the program. Within the next few weeks, the team will come together for the summer, which DeVries believes will play an important role in the early growth of the roster as a cohesive unit.

“That first week in June, it's gonna get that ball rolling really quickly,” he said. “We’ll get to spend a lot of time together in the summer and we have a foreign trip coming up. I think we’ll get to spend that time and bond and build that chemistry. I think just the natural culture we’ll have in the locker room and just surrounding the basketball program will hopefully bring us all pretty close.”

Another important piece of the upcoming roster is expected to be Oklahoma State transfer Javon Small, who averaged 15 points per game last season and was reported to be committed to WVU at the beginning of May. He has caused concern amongst Mountaineer fans by his lack of an official signing yet, but it is not of concern to DeVries.

DeVries noted that there are a lot of factors which go into making such a decision official, and that he is “not worried” about the situation.