"The main thing it is," Huggins said when asked about Jones' recent decision," is that it was the right thing for KJ to do. He made the right decision. I told people, 'Kevin will make the right decision.' I wasn't surprised. He's a very level-headed guy."
What Huggins needs from Jones - other than points and rebounds - is the kind of leadership skills the junior may have been expected to provide last season, when he was the key returnee after Da'Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks and Wellington Smith were gone.
Jones admittedly struggled with that role because he's not exactly prominent vocally. Then, Huggins said he has seen just this situation before.
"It wasn't Da'Sean's personality, either, when he did it," Huggins said. "I talked to Da' a bunch of times about stepping up after we lost guys in that role, like Darris Nichols, Joe (Alexander), Alex (Ruoff). Da' grew into it, and Kevin will be fine. He actually got into it more at the end of last season.
"He really picked it up. He's a very positive force when he plays like he can and steps up and encourages. He was great with Deniz (Kilicli) late in the year, really talking to him a lot, working with him, keeping Deniz's head in things."
Having a young team at WVU won't be anything new for Huggins, although it will be a departure from 2010-11, when four of his top eight players were seniors, and Jonnie West also averaged 8.1 minutes per game.
In his previous three seasons combined, he had only five seniors with significant minutes (Nichols, center Jamie Smalligan, Ruoff, Butler and Smith).
So, who starts in 2011-12 as WVU tries for a fifth straight NCAA Tournament berth?
It may depend on how Huggins wants to play things, big or small. Four of the five spots aren't tough to figure, in Bryant and Hinds in the backcourt and Jones and Kilicli up front.
From there? The only other returnee with quality experience is 6-5 rising junior Dalton Pepper, who has struggled to shoot on a consistent basis in a Mountaineer uniform. Another option, outside the newcomers, is 6-10 Kevin Noreen, coming back from knee surgery with a medical hardship season to remain a freshman.
"It could be Pepp," Huggins said. "It ought to be Pepp. He's been in things, knows what's going on, and at the end of the year, I thought he came on and really showed what he can do.
"But it's hard for me to tell you (on newcomers starting). You just don't know these guys' aptitude to learn. I've found out over the years some guys pick it up quickly, others don't, and you don't know what you're going to get."
That's what happens when you go fishing or go recruiting.
He'd gladly take what Van Exel, Blount, Durden, Buford, Martin, et al. brought his Bearcats. That's asking a lot, but maybe that's why Huggins has coached 691 wins.
Contact Sports Editor Jack Bogaczyk at ja...@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949.