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In this 21-part series, I’ll count down the 100 greatest Mountaineer men’s basketball players of all-time.
Admittedly this list is not scientific. It is completely subjective, and obviously opinions may differ. Please feel free to visit our message boards at BlueGoldNews.com to provide your own thoughts on this list, either pro or con.
Below is another installment in this lengthy series with a count down from No. 50-46.
Previous Top Players
100-96 95-91 90-86 80-76 75-71 70-66 65-61 60-56 55-51
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46 – Sagaba Konate (2017-19) – In the modern era, no Mountaineer men’s basketball player has gained more nationwide attention than Sagaba Konate, as his seemingly endless loop of shot-blicking videos drew hundreds of thousands of views. The defensive dominance by the 6-foot-8, 250-pound forward was short-lived, though, as his college career ended just eight games into his junior season. A native of Bamako, Mali, in west Africa, Konate came to the United States as a teenager, spending his final two high school years at Kennedy Catholic in Western Pennsylvania. He arrived at WVU in the summer of 2016 and quickly made a splash in the college ranks. Though he wasn’t much of a scorer that first season (4.1 ppg), his shot blocking was already at an elite level. He turned back 53 shots that year, which was the most ever for a Mountaineer freshman. And it was only a preview of what was to come. As a sophomore, he improved in terms of point production (10.8 per game) and rebounding (7.6 per game), and his shot blocking went to a level West Virginia had never seen. His 116 blocked shots in 2017-18 were the most in school history and were the second most in the country that season. He had 12 games with four or more blocks as a sophomore, including a career-high nine in a win at Baylor, equaling the school’s single-game record set by D’or Fischer in 2004. At season’s end, in which WVU finished 26-11 and advanced to the NCAA’s Sweet 16, Konate was voted third-team all-Big 12 and also to the league’s all-defensive team. Hampered by a knee injury early in his junior year, Sags played in eight of West Virginia’s first nine games that season. He averaged 13.6 points per game and had blocked 22 shots in that time – giving him a school career record of 191 – before he shut things down after an early December win over Pitt. Konate would not play another game for the Mountaineers. He didn’t suit up the rest of 2018-19, as WVU slid to 15-21 without him, and after the season concluded, he decided to turn pro. He was not selected in the 2019 NBA Draft, though he did sign with the Toronto Raptors and was assigned to the team’s G League squad that subsequent season. He’s spent the past three years playing professionally in Europe for teams in Spain, Greece and Italy. Sagaba averaged 8.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocked shots for Allianz Pallancanestro Trieste in Italy Series A this past season.
47 – Taz Sherman (2020-22) – A 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Missouri City, Texas, Sherman spent two years at Collin College, where he was fourth in the national junior college ranks as a scorer (25.9 ppg) in 2018-19 and earned second-team NJCAA All-American honors. He then enrolled at WVU, and over the next three years (the eligibility-free COVID season in 2020-21 allowed him to return as super senior in 2021-22), Taz developed into one of the best guards in the Big 12. It took him a year to adjust to the major college level, and he was mostly a role player in his season year at West Virginia, averaging 5.3 points per game. His numbers shot up considerably in year two (13.4 ppg, earning him honorable mention all-Big 12 notice) and were even better in year three (17.7 ppg). Sherman finished second in the Big 12 in scoring in 2021-22 and was named second-team all-league. Though he missed a few games because of illness and injury in his time at WVU, he still was able to score 1,089 points in his three years as a Mountaineer and made 139 (15thmost in school history) of 400 3-point attempts (34.8%, the 11thbest mark for those with at least 400 attempts). Sherman’s career free throw rate (83.2% on 218 of 262) is fifth best in West Virginia history and the best among those with at least 170 attempts. A member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s honor role, Sherman used his time at WVU to earn two bachelor’s degrees.
48 – Pete White (1952-55) – Playing alongside All-Americans Mark Workman and then Hot Rod Hundley, the 6-foot-5 White was an excellent complement to each. The Clendenin, West Virginia, native wasn’t a huge factor on the court his first two seasons, averaging just 2.7 points per game in that stint, but he became more and more of a force as a junior (10.4 ppg) and senior (15.8 ppg). The wiry White was a very good leaper, which helped him on the glass. He averaged 12.0 rebounds per game in his senior season and 8.0 for his career. His single-season and career rebounding averages are each among the top 20 in school history even today. He had a career-high 27 rebounds in a win over Pitt in 1955. Only three other Mountaineers (Jerry West with 31, Mack Isner with 31 and Mark Workman with 30) have ever bettered that mark. With Hundley in the backcourt and Fred Schaus in his first season as head coach, White helped WVU to a 19-11 record and its first-ever Southern Conference Tournament title as a senior in 1954-55. That brought the Mountaineers their first-ever NCAA Tourney berth. After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, White returned to Charleston and worked in the finance and insurance industry. His daughter, Anne White, was a successful pro tennis player. Pete was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
49 – Joe Stydahar (1933-36) – “Jumbo Joe’s” football reputation is legendary, but he was also one of the Mountaineers’ greatest basketball players in the program’s first 35 years of existence. Born in Kaylor, Pennsylvania, and raised in Shinnston, West Virginia, the 6-foot-4, 233-pound Stydahar was a dominating two-way lineman on the gridiron who was athletic enough to block a still-standing school-record seven punts in one season (1934). His football ability attracted the attention of the Chicago Bears, who made him the sixth pick of the first round in 1936. He was a four-time first-team All-Pro with the Bears and followed that by coaching the Los Angeles Rams to the NFL title in 1951. He was inducted in the College Football Hall in 1956 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967. Sam Huff is the only other Mountaineer player in both. Stydahar was excellent on the basketball court as well. He led the team in scoring in both 1932-33 (12.5 ppg) and 1933-34 (10.5 ppg). He followed that by averaging 7.7 points per game in 1934-35. Rebounds weren’t a stat kept by college basketball teams back then, but since Joe was bigger, stronger and more athletic than most anyone else on the court, we can only imagine what that number would have been. With pro football calling, he played only a handful of basketball games his senior season before heading off to the NFL. He had already proved his worth on the court, though, as his 24-point performance against West Virginia Wesleyan in 1933 was WVU’s single-game basketball scoring record until the 1940s. Stydahar continued to coach in the NFL until 1965. A member of the inaugural WVU Sports Hall of Fame class in 1991, Stydahar passed away in 1976.
50 – Darris Nichols (2005-08) – A 6-foot-2 point guard from Radford, Virginia, Nichols combined excellent athletic skills with a high level of intelligence and outstanding leadership. He was the ultimate coach on the floor, which now makes sense as he’s become a coach off the floor. Nichols served as an assistant coach in the college ranks for over a decade, including six seasons (2015-21) at the University of Florida before becoming the head coach at Radford prior to the 2021-22 campaign. Before he was a coach, Nichols was the consummate floor general for WVU coaches John Beilein and then Bob Huggins. Darris was a heavily-used backup at point guard behind J.D. Collins as a freshman (averaging 3.0 points and 1.8 assists per game) and sophomore (3.1 points and 1.6 assists per game), as the Mountaineers went to the NCAA’s Elite Eight and Sweet 16 in those seasons. Nichols took over as the starting point guard in 2006-07 and started every one of the 73 games in his final two seasons. He averaged 10.9 points and 4.6 assists per game as a junior, leading WVU (27-9) to the NIT championship. His 3-pointer right before the buzzer lifted the Mountaineers to a 63-62 win over Mississippi State in the NIT semifinal. Huggins took over as West Virginia’s coach the next season, and he inherited his perfect point guard in Nichols. The quiet assassin helped guide WVU to a 26-11 record and the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament by averaging 10.7 points and 3.2 assists per game. For his college career, Nichols scored 993 points and handed out 399 assists compared to just 135 turnovers. He is eighth in Mountaineer history in total assists and No. 1 in assist-to-turnover ratio – 2.96:1.