Bob Huggins said he's lucky. Kids today, well, they just aren't the gym rats they used to be. But at West Virginia, he has a team of throwback players. None, perhaps, is more of a throwback than junior guard Jevon Carter.
"I think kids have changed, certainly," Huggins said Wednesday afternoon in KeyBank Center as he team prepared for its first-round NCAA game against Bucknell. "I think more than anything it's instant gratification. When you sit and play games all day instead of being on the playground playing, it's because you want instant gratification. I don't think guys spend as much time working at their craft as they used to.
"And we're fortunate. We got some throwback guys. Jevon Carter, he's a throwback. He's like one of the old guys that would just rather spend time in the gym than get on Playstation."
That's largely why Carter is the backbone of the Mountaineers tenacious defense. West Virginia ranks first in the nation in turnovers forced per game (20.4), forcing teams to cough up the ball on 28.1 percent of their possessions.
Carter was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year with 89 steals on the season. He was named to the All-Big 12 Defensive Team for the third year in a row and has 215 career steals over his three seasons.
Of his defensive mentality Carter said: "Just being aggressive. Just not wanting my man to score. Just trying to help my team as much as possible with being aggressive. I just feel like that's what's going to separate me from everybody else. There are scorers all over the nation. Not everybody really takes pride in playing defense and I just take pride in it."
It's more than just pride and grit. Carter is hard-nosed for sure, but he's also a smart student of the game, perhaps watching scout video more than playing video games.
"He's very competitive, I think, first and foremost," Huggins said about Carter. "He's probably our most competitive guy and he's got great feet. He really can move his feet and he studies, you know? He's a guy that, if you would ask him schematically, what people are going to try to do, he knows. So he's a little ahead of the game, I think in that regard."
Also, playing defense for Huggins, well, it's just not an optional part of the game.
"Playing for a coach like Huggs, you've got to play defense," Carter said. "You don't really have a choice. We just play hard, honestly."