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Jeff Eisenberg

West Virginia forward walks out on team in the middle of game

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Whether it's a result of a lack of playing time, friction with a coach or concerns regarding the team's style of play, midseason transfers are becoming more and more common in college basketball these days.

What makes sophomore Danny Jennings' departure from West Virginia more newsworthy is that he left his team at the worst possible time.

According to multiple reports, the reserve forward left the Mountaineers bench early in the second half of Sunday's 56-46 victory over South Florida and did not return the rest of the game. An angry West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said in his postgame news conference that the absence was both "unexcused" and "inexcusable," adding that Jennings is "never to be seen again, I guess."

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"I understand you have to report it and that's fine, but can we talk about the guys who play?" Huggins said. "Because he didn't play anyway. And hasn't played.

"The truth of the matter is he's been a non-entity. You know, we started him to try to get some other guys motivated and things, and he did work hard in practice for a while, but he hasn't -- I mean, look at his career stats. We didn't just lose Kevin Jones. You know what I'm saying? It's a sidebar."

It's unclear what prompted Jennings to leave the bench, but the harsh tone of Huggins' postgame comments suggests their relationship may have been strained. Jennings did not play in the first half against South Florida and had seen his playing time dwindle to just three minutes per night in the Mountaineers' previous 10 games.

Reached at her Staten Island home Sunday night, Jennings' mother, Cora Darby, was unaware of the incident involving her son. Darby said she didn't feel comfortable commenting on his future with the team until she could reach her son by phone and figure out what happened.

The apparent departure of Jennings leaves West Virginia with only nine healthy scholarship players.

Jennings averaged 2.1 points and 2.5 rebounds in 8.6 minutes per game. The 6-foot-8 forward's minutes likely will be absorbed by senior Cam Thoroughman, who started at power forward Sunday for the Mountaineers.

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