For years, the sight of Bob Huggins pacing up and down the sidelines like a caged, angry tiger denied a piece of steak became legendary in college basketball circles.

When Taj Thweatt went on his visit to West Virginia before his senior season at Wildwood Catholic and officially committed to the school, he found a different guy.

“He was cool, funny, and his personality is cool,” Thweatt said last week. “He’s pretty calm, if you ask me.”

Crusaders head coach David DeWeese heard that and let out a chuckle. “Compared to me,” he said in the background.

So what was it that drew Thweatt, a senior power forward to Morgantown?

“The facilities, the practice facilities and the coaching staff are unbelievable,” Thweatt said. “But it’s about playing in the Big 12. That’s a great conference.”

In choosing West Virginia, Thweatt turned down a bevy of Division I teams. Florida, Penn State, Temple, Seton Hall, Rhode Island and UCLA all had serious interest in Thweatt.

Taj Thweatt is finishing his senior season by racking up big numbers in scoring and rebounding.
Phil Anastasia
Taj Thweatt is finishing his senior season by racking up big numbers in scoring and rebounding.

Huggins is a Hall of Fame coach who has been a winner at Cincinnati, Kansas State and West Virginia. He does demand a lot from his players. However, DeWeese seems confident his standout will be OK in the spotlight.

“Taj has been with me for four years,” DeWeese said. “He has felt my wrath many times, and he’s accepted it. He’s knows that when a coach is getting on him, he wants him to get better and wants to push him to be his best. And he’s accepted that over the last four years.

“So I don’t think he’ll have any problem at all with Coach Huggins. He’s demanding and will challenge Taj. But he’s ready for that challenge.”