MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia men’s basketball’s cast of guards is going to look a lot different in 2023-24.

Junior guards Seth Wilson and Kobe Johnson are the lone backcourt players returning from the 2022-23 roster, and Wilson (4.2 points per game) is WVU’s lead returning scorer.

But with the Mountaineers’ top three guards exiting the program at various points over the last year, transfer portal acquisitions were essential.

Arizona transfer Kerr Kriisa was one of WVU’s transfer portal crown jewels this offseason, and after a second complicated portal saga, he is officially a Mountaineer. Kriisa was a critical force in the Wildcats’ back-to-back Pac-12 Tournament Championships in 2022-23 in which he led the conference in assists per game.

In three years in Tucson, he also averaged 9.4 points per game.

“We’re going to have to beg him to probably be a little more aggressive in terms of looking to take his shot because he really is a pass-first guy trying to get everybody involved and running the show,” interim head coach Josh Eilert said. “From a coaching standpoint, you love it. You love to have that pass-first point guard that can just run the show and get everybody in the right place.”

Kriisa and Montana State transfer RaeQuan Battle are the two most established guards in the WVU program. While Kriisa’s spot is solidified following a chaotic saga of transfer portal entries and withdrawals, Battle’s status is still in question. WVU is Battle’s third collegiate stop after spending two years at both Washington and Montana State, so the NCAA has to approve his second-time transfer waiver in order for him to play this upcoming season.

If the waiver is approved, WVU’s cast of guards receives a significant boost.

“RaeQuan’s special,” Eilert said. “He really is special. Probably – I’m not even going to say probably – he’s probably our most natural athlete. He really scores the ball well. He can get his own shot, but defensively, he [is] one of those guys – if you go back to the ‘Press Virginia’ days – he would fit right in because he’s so smooth and so athletic and so quick-twitched compared to everybody else on that floor.”

Eilert is also pleased with the length of his guards. Including Battle, the average height of WVU guards is a smidge over 6-foot-3-inches. Jeremiah Bembry – the 6-foot-5-inch Florida State transfer – has particularly impressed from an athletic standpoint.

“I’ve always loved big, long guards [and] athletic guards,” Eilert said. “Kerr’s not big and athletic and long, but he’s a pass-first guy, and to have some type of one-two punch and bring somebody in if Kerr can’t guard a specific guy or [a] really athletic guy, you’ve got somebody with long athleticism to counter punch.”

Jose Perez* – who sat out WVU’s season in 2022 following his second transfer – and Eastern Michigan transfer Noah Farrakhan round out WVU’s guards for this season. Farrakhan averaged 12.11 points per game for Eastern Michigan last year. Perez scored 18.9 points per game for Manhattan as a junior at Manhattan.

  • Editors’s note: Eilert announced Saturday that Perez is no longer with West Virginia.