MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Bob Huggins opens the locker room doors to his fourth annual fantasy basketball camp at West Virginia on Friday. The participation of one of the invited guests seems a little like a fantasy itself.
Pat Beilein, the 44th 1,000-point scorer for the Mountaineers and the son of Huggins' predecessor as WVU coach, John Beilein, is among the many guest counselors.
Even he will admit that upon his dad's departure to Michigan in April 2007 things were said and done to make the bridge back to WVU difficult to travel.
"I know it might surprise some people, but I'm an alumni at WVU and I love the school and I love those guys I played with," he said. "Even though the coaches I played for aren't there, I do root for them."
Still, it wasn't the cleanest or most amiable exit and both sides left with hurt feelings.
"There were a lot of mixed emotions at the time and I might have said a few things out of spite," said Beilein, who was a graduate assistant at Michigan and an assistant at Dartmouth and is the newly hired director of basketball operations at Bradley. "I do remember saying something like, 'This is Michigan. This is big-time.' I think West Virginia took that the wrong way. I remember Michigan and the Fab Five and all those guys from when I was little, so, to me, that was a little like a dream job."
So many years later and with an understanding since established that the Beileins were very good for the ascent of Mountaineers basketball, Beilein is back, but not looking back.
"There are no hard feelings for me and I hope it's the same the other way," he said. "For me, it was a little different. I don't think people realize it wasn't just a coach leaving. It was my dad. People were saying hurtful things about him and that gets to you."
Beilein has been in town just once since then and that was last summer when he was recruiting for Dartmouth in July's AAU event in town. He was at the Final Four in Houston in April when WVU's director of basketball operations, Jerrod Calhoun, saw Beilein and pulled him aside to share an idea. Calhoun and Huggins wanted Beilein to come to the fantasy camp.
"I kind of smiled, like, 'You know what? That's cool,'" Beilein said. "I know they'd run them before and I'd never gotten a call. I'd seen guys like Frank Young and Mike Gansey and Joe Alexander go back. Not getting a call, it didn't really bother me, but I'd love to be back and see those guys and catch up with all them and all the things we did and the memories we have."