West Virginia names Josh Eilert interim coach, transfers may opt to remain | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / July 14.
  • West Virginia names Josh Eilert interim coach, transfers may opt to remain

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    West Virginia on Saturday officially announced that assistant coach Josh Eilert is being elevated to interim head coach to succeed Bob Huggins.

    The news — first reported by ZAGSBLOG Friday night — could help some of the transfers to remain at West Virginia instead of finding greener pastures.

    “Yeah, we love him,” said senior guard Joe Toussaint, who heard from a slew of schools including Gonzaga, DePaul, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Nebraska upon entering the portal.

    Point guard Kerr Kriisa, who transferred in from Arizona, told Stadium he was “really happy” about the Eilert news but added that he would take some time to digest the situation.

    Forward Tre Mitchell was on a visit to Kentucky on Saturday, but a source close to him said returning to West Virginia was still an option.

    Huggins, 69, resigned last weekend after a DUI arrest in Pittsburgh that followed an incident last month in which he twice used a homophobic slur and also made anti-Catholic comments on the radio. He was the active Division 1 leader in wins with 935,

    West Virginia AD Wren Baker informed the players of the Eilert decision Saturday evening. Ron Everhart and DerMarr Johnson will remain as assistants, and Jay Kuntz stays on as Director of Player Personnel/Recruiting.

    If Eilert can keep most of the transfers intact, he can attempt to do something similar to what Rodney Terry did when he was named the interim head coach at Texas after Chris Beard was charged with domestic assault. After a successful season, Terry got the full-time job in March.

    “I spoke with knowledgeable basketball people around the country over the last week, including coaches, professional basketball executives and others of whom I trust to identify a strong group of candidates to speak with,” Baker said in a statement. “Ultimately what I came to recognize, was that conducting this search in late June was difficult for many of our candidates and also it put our talented student-athletes at a real disadvantage. With that said, we will conduct our national search at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season.”

    West Virginia officials spoke Thursday night with Eilert and fellow assistant Everhart in a “fact-finding” mission, sources said, while various other established head coaches, including former West Virginia coach John Beilein, UAB coach Andy Kennedy, Liberty’s Ritchie McKay, Tulane’s Ron Hunter and Youngstown State’s Jerrod Calhoun, have been linked to the job.

    A native of Osborn, Kan., Eilert has spent the last 15 seasons on the Mountaineer basketball staff, including serving as an interim assistant coach during the 2016-17 season. He was named assistant men’s basketball coach in July 2022. “We love him,” one current player said. Eilert came to West Virginia in 2007 from Kansas State, where he served as a graduate assistant under Huggins in 2006-07. He was a walk-on at Kansas-State from 2002-04.
     
    “Josh Eilert is the right person to lead our men’s basketball program next season,” Baker added. “He has been an important part of our success, and he has displayed great integrity, work ethic and dedication. He has been involved in all facets of our program during his time on the basketball staff, and he has earned this opportunity to coach our team on an interim basis for the 2023-24 season.
     
    “Our athletics department will provide Josh, his staff and our student-athletes with a great support system and will do everything we can to ensure a successful season. Change is never easy and always presents challenges, but I am confident that this is the correct decision at this time. Moving forward and continuing our preparation for the upcoming season is the top priority now for our program.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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