Point guard Kerr Kriisa, who had recently re-entered the transfer portal after transferring to West Virginia from Arizona earlier this spring, announced his intention to return to West Virginia on Sunday, a day after the school promoted longtime assistant coach Josh Eilert to interim head coach.
Kriisa confirmed the move to multiple outlets Sunday, also posting to Twitter in part, “Now, I am putting my faith back in a coach that put his faith in me. This staff and team are about to do something very special and I’m so glad to be a part of it.”
Kriisa, 22, had previously left open the possibility of a return to WVU, but had also shown loyalty to former Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins, who resigned June 17 following an arrest for suspicion of DUI in Pittsburgh.
“I’m deeply sorry about the situation as I was really looking forward to playing for Coach Huggins,” Kriisa told ESPN on Friday. “Huggs will always be my guy. I’ve only known him for a few months now, but he is the most genuine man I have ever met. He is the man.”
The Estonia native led the Pac-12 with 180 assists for Arizona during the 2022-23 season. The 6-foot-3 Kriisa posted three-year averages of 9.4 points, 4.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds and made 177 3-pointers in 76 games (70 starts) with the Wildcats.
The potential looming departures of Kriisa, as well as of forward Tre Mitchell and guard Joe Toussaint, who also entered the portal on Friday, may have spurred the Mountaineers into quick action on naming a coach for 2023-24.
Eilert was elevated Saturday night. The move came exactly one week after Huggins’ resignation.
“Ultimately what I came to recognize, was that conducting this search in late June was difficult for many of our candidates and also it put our talented student-athletes at a real disadvantage,” WVU athletics director Wren Baker said in a school release. “With that said, we will conduct our national search at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season.
Eilert came to the Mountaineers in 2007 as video coordinator after connecting with Huggins at Kansas State. He appeared in a total of eight games for the Wildcats from 2002-04 after transferring in from a community college. He scored two points in 12 total minutes played, and he was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Team as a senior.
Huggins was arrested June 16 in Pittsburgh.
According to the Pittsburgh Police Department, officers observed Huggins’ black SUV blocking traffic with a flat tire and the driver’s side door open.
Huggins was directed to pull over and, after being questioned by police, was issued a standard field-sobriety test that he ultimately failed. Officers observed “empty beer cans in a white garbage bag of empty metal beer bottles. In the trunk of the vehicle was another white garbage bag of empty metal beer bottles.”
Huggins, 69, was then charged with DUI and released from custody. He resigned just about 24 hours later.
Huggins had coached the Mountaineers since 2007. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2022 and is one of only six men’s coaches to reach 900 career wins.
–Field Level Media