CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University Tech men's basketball Coach Bob Williams has guided the Golden Bears' program to 20 or more wins in each of the last two seasons.
But the 12th year coach is most proud of how the program achieved those successes.
Williams has built the program around talented out-of-state players, as well as an abundance of Mountain State talent.
"We want to try to keep the momentum going in the program and have another solid season," Williams said. "I've always believed in recruiting in your backyard first. We know we can't just recruit West Virginia kids, but we've given a lot of local kids the opportunity to come in and develop into good players since I've been here, especially in the last five to six years."
When the Golden Bears tip off their season Saturday at 4 p.m. against the University of Cincinnati-Clermont in the Neal D. Baisi Athletic Center, they will do so with 10 West Virginia natives among its roster of 15 players.
"Sometimes they're complementary pieces to the team, but I play a lot kids so they get a chance," Williams said. "When a young kid comes in here, sometimes we'll redshirt them the first year and get them stronger, improve their skills and help them adapt to the college game.
"A lot of local players are overlooked and some of them can turn into really good players. West Virginia kids are a good fit at West Virginia Tech. Having them on the team is a good reflection on our student body and our alumni."
All eight of Tech's freshmen and sophomores are home grown talents, with its top two returning players also calling the Mountain State home.
Junior Jaren Marino (South Charleston) returns as the team's leading scorer (11.8 ppg.) and rebounder (5.4 rpg.), while former Matewan star Brandon Burgraff returns for his senior season, having averaged 10.9 points and 2.9 rebounds last season.
"Brandon is a senior captain and a three year starter for us," Williams said. "He's one of the better shooters in NAIA in my opinion."
Williams is particularly pleased with Marino's improvement while in the Golden Bears' program.
"Jaren Marino is a junior captain that is a self made player," Williams said. "He's gotten so much stronger and his skills have gotten better.
"He couldn't shoot at all when we got him, but he's developed into a really good player with a solid shot. He deserves a lot of credit because he's worked so hard during the season and in the offseason. I'm really proud of him."