Gabe Osabuohien flashes improved game at Gold-Blue Debut



Oct. 16—MORGANTOWN — Gabe Osabuohien hauled in the pass a few steps from midcourt and then the West Virginia power forward did something never seen from him in a WVU uniform.

He played the role of a flashy point guard.

Rather than holding up play by looking to make a pass, Osabuohien dribbled all the way into the paint and near the rim. Once the defense began to surround him, Osabuohien flipped the ball to teammate Dimon Carrigan for a dunk.

The fifth-year senior finished with 10 points and the assist Friday night for the Blue in the annual Gold-Blue Debut scrimmage.

While the Gold came away with a 74-57 victory behind Jalen Bridges’ 21 points, Osabuohien made his case as the Mountaineers’ most improved player.

WVU head coach Bob Huggins said Osabuohien’s improved began with individual work this summer.

“I can’t believe how much better he’s gotten, ” Huggins said. “I didn’t work with him at all. I didn’t spend any time with him on his shooting. That was all him. He was in here every day pretty much all day.”

Osabuohien showed confidence by putting the ball on the floor and driving to the basket numerous times.

He also flashed what he was known for in his first two seasons with the Mountaineers by drawing a charging foul.

“I’ve been working on every aspect of my game, ” Osabuohien said. “I’ve become a better passer and am able to make some shots. I’m a better defender, so I’ve been working on all parts and not just one thing.”

Sean McNeil led the Blue with 16 points, while Kobe Jonhson and Isaiah Cottrell added 16 points for the Gold.

Point guard battles Transfer point guard Malik Curry finished with four points and seven assists, but the fifth-year senior has missed recent practice time due to his teeth.

“He just had his molars pulled, ” Huggins said.

Curry, a transfer from Old Dominion, as well as senior Kedrian Johnson, have been dueling in practice to take over the point guard position left vacant when Deuce McBride left school early for the NBA.

“He and Kedrian have been going at it pretty good, ” Huggins said.

Curry averaged 15.7 points at Old Dominion last season, while Johnson came off the bench to play in 26 games and averaged 1.3 points per game for the Mountaineers. Johnson had three points and four assists in the scrimmage.

“Both of our point guards, Malik and Kedrian, are just as comfortable handling the ball as anyone I’ve played with since I’ve been here, ” WVU guard Taz Sherman said. “They’re older guys. It’s not like they’re freshmen and just getting here.”

Before Curry enrolled at Old Dominion, he began his college career at Palm Beach State.

Sherman said he actually played with Curry at a junior-college showcase.

“I knew already what he was, ” Sherman said. “He’s going to bring that driving intensity and defensive intensity. He and Kedrian, we see that battle everyday.”

Kobe Johnson, a freshman from Canton, Ohio, made his case to play some major minutes as a point guard, to, in his first season.

Johnson finished with 16 points in 15 minutes. He shot 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

“Kobe’s ball security might be the best out of all of them, ” Huggins said. “He’s a freshman, but when you play at Canton (Ohio) McKinley, you play against pretty good competition. He’s probably a little more prepared for what was coming than the other freshmen.”

Redshirting Okonkwo All things being equal, Huggins’ heart tells him he would rather play freshman forward James Okonkow this season rather than redshirting the 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward.

In a practice last week, Okonkwo injured his left foot after stepping on a teammate’s foot.

Huggins said Okonkwo’s foot wasn’t really broken or fractured, but would need about six weeks to heal.

“Those two bones, it’s not that they’ve grown together, they were just together, ” Huggins explained. “He stepped on somebody’s foot and turned it and they broke apart. It’s not that they’re broken, but they’re apart and they were always together from the time he was born. I don’t know what you do to fix it. We obviously can’t glue them back together.”

Okonkwo just turned 18 on Oct. 1 and enrolled early at WVU after bypassing his final two seasons of high school at Beckley Prep.

When Okonkwo first enrolled, the thought was to let him redshirt and mature for a season, but that was before Huggins saw what the forward could do.

“The way he was playing before he got hurt, he was going to play, ” Huggins said. “He’s quicker off the floor than our other guys.

“The plan all along was to redshirt him. That’s what his dad wants and that was kind of his mind set going in. But he shocked me. He was a lot better than what I saw on film.”

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