Last season, Taz Sherman was West Virginia’s spark off the bench. He started in four of 31 games he played in as a junior and averaged 13.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 24.4 minutes per game. He reached double-figure scoring in 21 contests, including a 26 point game which was a career-high at the time. He was part of a supporting cast for Deuce McBride and Derek who led the team in points and rebounds respectively.
This year, Sherman is the show. He’s the one the Mountaineers go to when they need a basket. He’s started the season averaging 18 points per game. Through nine starts, the average has moved up to 21 per game. His lowest output was 12 points vs. Clemson. His best saw a career-high 28 points against Eastern Kentucky. He’s eclipsed 20 points in five of nine games. Sherman’s evolution as a Mountaineer is impressive when you remember in 2019-20 he averaged just 5.3 points per game.
“He has made so many strides,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “He reminds me of Steve Logan. He’s bigger and more athletic than Lo was but has a great knack for getting himself free to get a jump shot. He’s gotta be one of the better players in our league, if not in the two or three.”
Sherman is second in the Big 12 in scoring average, but has scored the most points in the league with a total of 191. Kansas’s Ochai Agbaji is just ahead of Sherman with 22.6 points per game.
The aforementioned Steve Logan played for Coach Huggins at Cincinnati and averaged 22 points in his final season. His field goal percentage never dropped below 41 percent over his four-year career — and Sherman can almost say the same thing. In his first year with the Mountaineers, it was 38.3 percent. Earlier this year, Huggins compared him to another one of his former players — WVU legend Da’Sean Butler.
Now, Sherman sharing qualities of former greats is one thing, but he actually had a chance to learn from them, too. Former Mountaineers always come back into town in the offseason to continue working on their craft at the basketball practice facility where they have their own dedicated space. Over the summer, there were a few current players who took advantage of those guys being in town. Sherman was one of them.
“Taz really had a phenomenal summer. He didn’t go home, he stayed here, was in the gym everyday. He worked really hard,” Huggins said. “One of the guys smart enough to hang out with the older guys in the gym to see how they worked and what they learned by a lot of them going to play professionally overseas and I think it really helped him.”
Last year, Sherman and Sean McNeil were the sharpshooters as they led the team in three-point attempts. That still rings true this season, but for Sherman, it’s his improved ability to score around the rim that stands out.
“He’s got great feet and he’s really worked hard at it,” Huggins said of Sherman. “The thing you learn from the older guys, you don’t have to dribble between your legs 65 times and if you want to be a good scorer, you have to be versatile,” Huggins said. “You see KJ (Kevin Jones) work out, he does a lot of jump shots then his post stuff. Then all the other guys, they all came in with their workouts, and Taz was a great student.”
Having the chance to explore his options at the professional level was also beneficial. After submitting his name for the NBA Draft, he decided to return to the program for his fifth year of eligibility.
“I honestly didn’t say all that much. Just (you have) a chance to have a heck of a year, a chance to come back and be the guy. The reality is you are not going to get drafted, you’re not on any draft board,” Huggins said. “So why wouldn’t you come back, have a heck year, and see if you can do it next year?”
And a heck of a year is exactly what Sherman is having.
“He paid his dues. He certainly paid his dues and there is a lot to be said for coming out and practicing against those guys every day. You lean a lot,” Huggins said.