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Chuck Landon: Herrion working on lack of WV talent

Mar. 16, 2013 @ 12:23 AM

TULSA, Okla. -- Wouldn't it be nice if Marshall's basketball program would recruit a West Virginia native?

In the 1990s, there was such home-grown talent as Jason Williams, Tamar Slay, Joda Burgess, Monty Wright, Tink Brown, Stuff Lynch and Deon Dobbs.

But lately?

Well, it has been a while.

Sure, St. Albans native Adam Williams transferred to Marshall from the University of Kentucky and played three seasons for the Herd (2006-09). And, yes, Charleston's Tyquane Goard is a current member of the program after transferring from Ohio University.

But I'm referring to West By Gosh products mined straight from high school or, at least, prep school.

That hasn't happened since Mark Patton was recruited in 2002 from Cabell Midland High School. And let's face it, Patton, who played from 2002-06, was a legacy. After all, his father, Ross Patton, is a Marshall team doctor.

The bottom line is it's high time to recruit a player born and bred in the Mountain State.

Granted, Marshall coach Tom Herrion tried a couple of years ago when Pierra Henry was starring at South Charleston High School. But Henry signed with Charlotte instead and has been the 49ers' starting point guard for two seasons.

The good news is Herrion and his staff haven't given up on recruiting West Virginia.

In fact, Marshall is trying to recruit a state native right now.

He's Martinsburg High School star Donte Grantham.

The 6-foot-8, 200-pound Grantham is a legitimate small forward prospect, who averages 18.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.8 blocked shots. By all accounts, he is a young, still-growing kid with a tremendous upside.

According to sources, Grantham looks like he's only about 15 years old. He is the sort of prospect who might be 6-8 when he signs in April or May, but 6-10 by the time he enrolls in college.

That's why there are so many college coaches at the West Virginia High School boys basketball tournament in Charleston this week. That list includes Herrion, who watched Grantham and his Martinsburg teammates play Eastern Panhandle rival Washington High in the tournament semifinals Friday night.

Marshall already has offered Grantham a scholarship. Other schools that have extended offers include VMI, Radford, George Mason, James Madison, Northern Kentucky, Morgan State and Morehead State.

No offense to those schools, but Marshall should be the leader for Grantham in that group.

There's just one problem, however.

West Virginia University has begun to show interest in him. Mountaineer head coach Bob Huggins has been to Martinsburg for a regular-season game and assistant Ron Everhart, a Fairmont native, has been watching Grantham lately.

But there was a caveat.

The Mountaineers wanted him to attend prep school for a year because they don't have any scholarships remaining. That probably meant Fork Union Military Academy, where former WVU player Brooks Berry succeeded the iconic Fletcher Arritt as head coach.

But, now, that premise apparently has changed.

Since Huggins is expected to purge his program by encouraging several current WVU players to leave in the aftermath of a disappointing 13-19 season, perhaps there will be room on the Mountaineers' roster.

Don't be surprised if it boils down to a Marshall vs. WVU battle for Grantham.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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