There is a flurry of activity going on down at the basketball practice facility and it’s not current Mountaineer players doing the shooting, dribbling, and, ehem, heavy breathing.
The annual Bob Huggins Fantasy Basketball Camp begins Friday evening with another strong turnout of campers and former players taking part.
“It’s a great turnout,” said a tanned and well-rested Bob Huggins. “It might be the most guys we’ve had.”
Among the former players returning as celebrity coaches for this year’s event include Mountaineer greats Darryl Prue, Damian Owens and Phil Collins from the Gale Catlett era, guard Mike Gansey from the John Beilein era and forward Cam Thoroughman, who played for Beilein and Huggins.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring former guys back. Phil hadn’t been back in a while. Cam’s excited about coming back and a couple other guys got stuck in traffic and will be here later tonight,” said Huggins. “That’s why I started this - to get guys back. These guys have fun.”
Huggins says the biggest value in having this every year is the ability to renew old friendships and create new ones.
“I’ve always thought that playing here was a tremendous opportunity because you got to know guys that could continue to help you,” he explained. “Jerry (West) has been terrific. Rod Hundley has been terrific, Buddy Quertinmont … I could go on and on and on. I think that’s what it ought to be -it ought to be a fraternity where we try the best we can to take care of each other. I think we have a bunch of guys that are willing to do that.”
Although lots of stories and plenty of laughs will be a major part of this weekend’s program, Huggins says there will also be a lot of basketball played as well.
“You want to make it what they want, and it’s amazing because you think they are just going to go in and enjoy themselves and they start playing and those competitive juices start flowing a little bit,” he noted. “All of sudden, they all want to win and you’ve got guys out there diving on the floor, taking charges and that doesn’t go away. You think it does but it doesn’t.”
And that’s why the most valuable performers this weekend will be the West Virginia University athletic training staff.
“I did the (Michael) Jordan Fantasy Camp for a long time and the guys realized after the first camp that (the trainers) were the MVPs and they took up a collection of a pretty good chunk of change - in addition to what Michael paid them - to make sure they were taken care of and to make sure they were on call,” Huggins joked. “It’s good for Doc (Randy) Meador – it’s a character builder for him.”
Because everyone has such a good time, and Morgantown holds such a special place in the hearts of Mountaineer players, students and supporters, Huggins says it’s not too difficult to get recruit former players to come back and work fantasy camp.
“I think what happens is the more we can get them back the more they want to come back,” he noted. “The reunion we do during the season has gone from 30 guys to like 120 guys. This is a special place. Once you’re here, and you spend time here, you kind of fall in love with it.”