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Star guard Tucker DeVries is transferring from Drake to join his dad at West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — New West Virginia coach Darian DeVries brought some reinforcements from Drake.

Tucker DeVries sat in the front row for his father’s introductory news conference Thursday as Darian announced that his son, a two-time Missouri Valley Conference player of the year, is joining him with the Mountaineers.

That might have drawn the loudest cheer from hundreds of West Virginia fans ready to move on from a year of misery.

Tucker called his dad’s choice to come to West Virginia “a family decision.” His transfer wasn’t exactly a shock.

“For me to be able to come here for my senior year and to be a part of all of this, I’m looking really forward to it and I’m super excited,” Tucker said.

He led Drake in scoring this season at 21.6 points per game. Tucker and his dad had one last game at Drake in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 21, a 66-61 loss to Washington State.

That was just the start of a busy week.

The hiring at West Virginia was announced Sunday night, Tucker underwent surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday for an injury sustained in January yet he continued to play through. He entered the transfer portal Wednesday. The 6-foot-7 guard’s right arm was in a sling Thursday, and he expects a full recovery by this summer.

“Ready to get healthy and get to work,” Tucker said.

Eventually, that means getting to experience Big 12 basketball.

“Growing up in the Midwest, you see a lot of the programs in the Big 12 around, and I have a lot of friends and former teammates in the Big 12,” Tucker DeVries said. “To be a part of that myself will be pretty special.”

The task will be huge, and results might not be seen until after Tucker uses up his eligibility. The new coach will be responsible for digging a program out of a hole that started with the resignation last summer of Hall of Fame coach Bob Huggins. West Virginia lost a school-record 23 games this past season under interim coach Josh Eilert.

Darian has seen this type of reconstruction project before. When he arrived at Drake in 2018, he was the Bulldogs’ fourth coach in 16 months and the school had gone six straight seasons without a winning record.

He compiled a 150-55 record in six seasons and took Drake to the NCAA Tournament three times. Drake won at least 25 games in four straight seasons, tying a school record for wins this season at 28-7.

The five-year contract is worth $2.8 million in the first year with $100,000 raises each year. A top-six finish in the Big 12 in either of the first two seasons can earn an automatic one-year extension plus another $100,000 bonus paid during a sixth season.

West Virginia will pay an unspecified buyout at Drake, according to his memorandum of understanding obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.

West Virginia, which joined the league in 2012, has never won a Big 12 regular season or tournament title and has three last-place finishes since 2019.

“The Big 12 obviously is a very defensive-oriented league. It’s a very physical league,” Darian said. “There’s no question that in order to be successful in the Big 12, you have to defend. You have to be able to rebound. You have to have some physicality. Your team has to have some toughness. We will recruit to that. We will coach to that. We will teach that.”

And it will start with his son.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness

By JOHN RABY
AP Sports Writer

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