Mike Gansey was floored when he first walked into West Virginia University’s new basketball practice facility. Actually, he was speechless.
“I was here in the fall when I came to a football game and it wasn’t quite done,” Gansey said last Friday evening before the start of Bob Huggins’ Fantasy Basketball Camp. “I thought the (Cleveland) Cavaliers facility was nice but that is nothing compared to this. This place has got to be the best place in the country. It’s unbelievable.”
Gansey was back on campus for the weekend along with several other former Mountaineer standout players, among those including Wil Robinson, Da’Sean Butler, Joe Alexander, Jarrod West, Alex Ruoff and John Flowers.
Gansey has since exchanged his sneakers for a clipboard as a scout for the Cavs after spending a couple of years in the NBA D-League and also playing overseas in Italy, Germany, China and Spain.
“I do a lot of basketball operations in addition to scouting,” Gansey said. “Mostly, I do a lot of stuff with our D-League team in Canton. I’m kind of the low guy on the totem pole so I’ve got to do a little bit of everything.
“This past year I went to a lot of college games. I got to see West Virginia in Pittsburgh. I got to see them against Marshall and I went to a lot of local games – Indiana-Kentucky, Ohio State and it was a lot of fun going there and seeing these guys and going to some of these places that I didn’t get to play at.”
Gansey admits it was tough to finally quit a game that he had been playing since he was seven or eight years old.
“It was hard at first because Daniel Gibson and Ryan Hollins, who played with us this year, I played against them in college,” he said. “Before training camp I was playing with the guys and they were like ‘Oh you’re going to be pretty good for training camp this year.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not playing’ but over time I kind of got used to it. Basketball is basketball whether I’m playing or watching or evaluating it. I’m fine with my decision now and I’m really happy with what I’m doing.”
This is a big time of the year for Gansey as he gets ready for the 2012 NBA draft coming up at the end of this month. The Cavaliers have four of the top 34 picks in this year’s draft at No. 4, 24, 33 and 34.
“We’ve already had numerous workouts and we’ve got workouts pretty much every other day up to draft day,” he said. “I’m very, very heavily involved with that organizing stuff and getting guys here and there and even participating in some of the workouts when some of the guys are hurt or not able to go. I’m pretty much right there involved with everything.”
Gansey said he is getting a different perspective of the game from his new vantage point of being the evaluator instead of the one always been evaluated.
“Not playing on the other side it’s totally different,” Gansey explained. “I don’t necessarily think I would do things different when I played because I always got to the gym early, I worked hard and I did things I wanted to do, but just seeing it from the other side being in the front office and not playing, it’s definitely an eye opener.”
Gansey certainly opened people’s eyes during his outstanding two-year career at WVU in 2005 and 2006 after spending his first two seasons playing at St. Bonaventure. West Virginia fans will never forget Gansey’s two free throws at the end of the game against Villanova in the 2005 Big East tournament semifinals that lifted the Mountaineers to their first-ever trip to the Big East tournament championship game. WVU fans will also never forget Gansey’s great steal that preserved the UCLA win at Pauley Pavilion or his senior season when he averaged 16.8 points per game to earn first team all-Big East honors.
Twice, West Virginia reached the Sweet 16 with Gansey in the lineup and the Mountaineers nearly made it to the Final Four in 2005 before falling to Louisville in overtime in an Elite Eight game in Albuquerque, N.M.
Gansey, who scored a career-high 33 points in a 104-85 victory over Marquette in 2006, ended his WVU career just 24 points shy of scoring 1,000. The former guard was obviously pleased when he walked into WVU’s new practice facility and noticed his picture displayed prominently in the reception area.
“When you walk into the front where the men’s and women’s secretaries are and just to have my picture there that means a lot,” he said. “All of the sweat and hard work I put in here for two years and to see my face there is really special.
“The thing that is really special about this place is that if you played one minute for any team here your name is somewhere in this building - which makes it even more special.”Check out Antonik's new book The Backyard Brawl: Stories from One of the Weirdest, Wildest, Longest Running, and Most Intense Rivalries in College Football History available in bookstores this fall. A portion of the sales benefit the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Also, be sure to "Like" the new Backyard Brawl Facebook page and tell us your personal WVU-Pitt story.