In this 21-part series, I count down the 100 greatest Mountaineer male basketball players of all time.
Admittedly, this list is not scientific. It’s completely subjective, and of course opinions may differ. Feel free to visit our message boards at BlueGoldNews.com to provide feedback on this list, whether for or against.
Below is another installment in this long-running series with a countdown from #30 to #26.
Top Previous Players
100-96 95-91 90-86 80-76 75-71 70-66 65-61 60-56
50-46 45-41 40-36 35-31
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26 – Eddie Becker (1952-54) – In his three seasons with West Virginia University, Becker scored 1,127 career points. He was only the fourth mountaineer to break the 1,000 point mark and, at the time of his graduation, he was the second leading scorer in WVU basketball history, behind Mark Workman (1,553 points from 1950 to 1952). Becker also had 346 career rebounds, as he played in 76 games for West Virginia, starting 58 of them. A 6-foot forward from Wheeling, Becker averaged double digits in each of his three college seasons with the Mountaineers, posting 11.4 points per game as a sophomore, 15.0 as a junior and 18.7 as a senior. . Under coach Red Brown, Becker’s teams went on to record 23-4, 19-7 and 12-11. He was a first-team all-state player while leading Wheeling High to a 25-0 record and a state title in 1948. He was elected to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2016 and the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
27 – Lee Boss (1959-61) – The Bellaire, Ohio native did many great things on the basketball court, but the greatest achievement of his life came when he plunged into the icy Ohio River in March 1961 to save the life of a drowning woman. He received a Carnegie Hero Foundation Award for this feat. Compared to that, basketball was child’s play. A two-time OVAC first-team member at Bellaire High, where he scored 1,842 career points, Patrone initially headed to Ohio State but quickly reversed course and s signed up with the WVU prior to the start of his freshman season in the fall of 1957. After a year on the freshman team, Patrone joined the Mountaineer varsity team led by Jerry West for the 1958-59 season (29 -5) in which West Virginia made a run to the NCAA Tournament title game, where they lost a heartbreaking 71-70 to California. A 6-foot-1 guard, Patrone played a key role that season, usually as a reserve, averaging 6.2 points and 2.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore. He started all 58 games in his final two seasons at WVU, averaging 14.2 points and 5.5 rebounds as a junior and a team-high 14.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3. 5 assists as a senior. For his three-year college career, Patrone scored 1,028 points, pulled out 388 rebounds, and dished out 210 assists. He was a three-time member of the Southern Conference All-Tournament Team, twice named to the Southern Conference First Team for the regular season, and was a member of the Helms Foundation Third Team. All-American in 1961. After graduating from West Virginia, Patrone taught and coached at Wintersville (Ohio) High School. He was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
28 – Rudy Baric (1940-42) — A 6-foot-3 center from Benwood, WV, Baric was the driving force behind the Mountaineers’ National Invitational Tournament title race in 1942 at a time when the NIT was considered the true national basketball championship- college ball. After averaging 10.3 ppg in 1939-40 and 10.5 ppg in 1940-41, Baric increased his output to 14.4 ppg in 1941-42 as he led WVU to a regular season of 16-4 that earned him a spot in the eight-team NIT field. Once in New York, Baric teamed with Scotty Hamilton, Shorty Hicks and Dick Kesling to guide coach Dyke Raese’s Mountaineers to wins over Long Island (58-49 in overtime), Toledo (51-39) and Western Kentucky (47). -45) to capture the NIT crown. Baric was named NIT MVP, averaging 16 points per game in WVU’s three tournament wins. He scored 748 points in his three seasons with West Virginia University, averaging 11.9 points per game. While most of the 1941-1942 WVU squad left for the armed forces to compete in World War II by the following season, including Coach Raese, Baric stayed on to coach the university team for a year. Although Scotty Hamilton was the only returning player for the NIT champions, Baric coached these young mountaineers to a 14-7 mark. He later continued his coaching success through the high school ranks and was inducted into the South Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984. Baric, who was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 as part of the second class of this organization, died in 1993.
29 – Darryl Prue (1986-89) – A top rookie while setting up an all-Met first-team career at Washington, DC’s, Dunbar High School, the 6-foot-7, 225-pound Prue originally committed to Georgetown before changing his pick for West Virginia ahead of its first season. Prue quickly became a starter for coach Gale Catlett’s club and helped the Mountaineers to three 22-plus seasons and three NCAA Tournament berths during his four years at Morgantown. The Atlantic’s freshman 10 of the Year in 1986, he averaged 7.8 points and 5.7 rebounds that season. The A-10 honors kept coming after that, as he was a second-team all-league pick as a second (12.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game) and junior (12.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game) before being promoted to first team all-A10 as a senior (12.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game). In his career, he totaled 1,426 points (20ein school history) and 865 rebounds (11ein school history), as well as 230 interceptions (fourth in school history). While Prue’s conversion rate from the free throw line (46.5% in his career) may have been lacking, his ability to shoot from the floor (55.8% in his career) was nearly unmatched, topped by only one other Mountaineer in school history (Chris Brooks, 60.2%). Prue made 63.3% of his field goal attempts in his senior season (164 of 259), which is again No. 2 on West Virginia’s single-season roster behind only Brooks (66.3 % in 1990-91). Inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2019, Prue played professional basketball overseas for 11 years after his college career ended. He also coached in college and high school, and worked as a personal trainer for many DC area players, including some at the NBA level.
30 – Joe Alexander (2006-08) – A 6-foot-8 forward, Alexander had one of the most unusual paths to stardom a basketball player has ever taken. His father worked overseas, including a long spell with the Nestle Corporation, so Joe spent most of his formative years in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. He played basketball as a youngster in Asia and developed his game upon his return to the United States, first at Linganore High School in Mount Airy, Maryland, then during a preparatory year at the Hargrave Military ( Va.) Academy. Although his basketball skills were still raw, Alexander’s bizarre athletic ability caught the recruiting interest of WVU coach John Beilein. Alexander played very little as a true freshman in West Virginia in 2005-06, averaging 1.3 points, 0.7 rebounds and 3.6 minutes per game while seeing the action in just 10 games. He emerged as a starter in his sophomore season, averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds as he helped last-team Beilein Mountaineer to a 27-9 record and an NIT championship. As a junior in ’07-’08, with Bob Huggins in his first year as head coach at West Virginia, Alexander propelled WVU to the NCAA Tournament by leading the team in both scoring ( 16.9 points per game) and rebounding (6.4 per game). In particular, he posted an electrifying final month of the season, averaging 28.9 points and 8.1 rebounds in WVU’s final nine games, including four double-doubles, during a 26-year campaign. 11 which included a run to the Sweet 16. Twice in that nine-game span, he topped 30 points in matchups against No. 15 Connecticut, and he also scored 32 points in a win over pitt. He was named a first-team All-Big East and AP All-American honorable mention at the end of the 2007-08 season. Alexander’s performance over the past month catapulted him into the upper echelon of NBA draft predictions, and he heeded that advice to turn pro after his junior season. He was the eighth first-round pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the spring of 2008. His stint in the NBA lasted just two seasons, but he spent a dozen years playing professionally overseas, including last year with Maccabi Rishon LeZion in Israel.