Craig Carey learns both sides of the game
Former MHS star now walk-on for WVU men’s basketball team
The Dominion Post
Craig Carey has been summoned into numerous basketball games before, even at the Division I college level, where he is a first-year walk-on for WVU this season. This was no walk-on moment, though. Instead of being called in to play late in a game with WVU holding a comfortable lead, the former Morgantown High allstater was called on by WVU coach Bob Huggins to play in the first half against Virginia Military Institute, at the Charleston Civic Center earlier this season.
WVU held a slim 11-10 lead at the time.
“I was really surprised,” Carey said. “Usually he’ll call for me at the end of the game. He told me to go in. I was shocked. I sat there for a second and then I realized I was still sitting there on the bench, so I ran as fast as I could to get in.”
Thousands of miles away, at the Paradise Jam, in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, WVU women’s basketball coach Mike Carey — Craig’s father — was getting the update.
“It was funny,” Mike Carey recalled. “Travis Jones [WVU women’s basketball radio announcer] told me Craig was in. I said, ‘You’re real funny.’
“Later in the first half, he said, ‘Craig’s in.’ I said, ‘Yeah, right,’ but he really was. With Travis, I didn’t know if he was telling the truth or not.”
Craig Carey came into the game, and although he played less than a minute and was credited with no official statistics, he did keep WVU from committing an extra turnover.
“There was a bad pass and it was tipped away,” Craig Carey explained. “I had to race back and get it. I was hoping to get back there before anyone noticed.”
Making the cut
This past season, when the WVU men’s team was working on a Final Four season, was when Craig found out he would be a future member of the team as a walk-on.
He knew players like Da’Sean Butler and Wellington Smith, who encouraged him to tryout for the team as a walkon. His first two years at WVU, he was a practice player for the WVU women’s team.
“I was going to a study hall one day and that was the day of tryouts,” Craig explained. “There were like nine or 10 guys there. All the coaches except for coach Huggins were there. They had us run some drills and then we scrimmaged against each other.
“At the end of the tryout, the coaches came up to me and told me to start running, because I was going to start working out with the team in the offseason.”
Making the grade cost Mike Carey one practice player.
“It was his decision,” Mike said. “He decided he wanted to try it. He loved it. He loves his role on the team right now.”
Life as a walk-on
Craig Carey is one of four walk-ons on the team this season, along with Kenny Ross, Jake Ferguson and Kerwin Selby.
Ross, from Furlong, Pa., was on the team this past season and is a redshirt freshman. Jake Ferguson, a freshman from Nicholas County High in Summersville, was added to the team prior to the start of this season, while Selby, a redshirt junior from Bel Air, Md., also earned his walk-on status through tryouts.
Officially, Craig has logged two minutes of action this season and has appeared in two games. He has yet to attempt his first college shot.
A walk-on basketball player at WVU goes through the same rituals as a scholarship player.
They practice for three hours. They watch film. They lift weights with the rest of the team. And they run, a lot.
“It really first hit me that I was playing Division I basketball when we were in offseason workouts,” Craig said. “Our first conditioning day was at 6 in the morning and we had to run these 60-yard sprints non-stop. We had to do it in a certain amount of time or we had to keep running them.
“That was a long day. After that, I went home and took about a three-hour nap. I was drained.”
During practices, walkons will scrimmage with the team as scout team members, meaning they run the plays and sets as WVU’s upcoming opponent to give the starters and reserves a chance to take a look at what they could see during a game.
There are also moments when the walk-ons are called on to fill in for a starter or reserve.
“When you’re scrimmaging, you have to be ready for anything,” Craig said.
Getting the itch again
Following a high school career that saw the Mohigans lose two consecutive times in the state semifinals, Craig said he felt burned out on the game of basketball.
He enrolled at WVU as a student, majoring in sports management, although he is changing his major to criminology after the semester is over.
It didn’t take long before he started to miss the game.
“After my school day, I didn’t know what to do with my time,” he explained. “Usually I had practice, but I didn’t have it anymore. I found myself going somewhere to shoot. I was bored a lot.”
Having practiced with both Mike Carey and Huggins gives Craig a unique perspective on which coach has a more fiery personality.
“Hell, he got cussed out just as much as a practice player for me as he is playing on [the men’s] team,” Mike Carey joked.
Officially, Craig said it was too close to call.
“Actually, I think they tie. They both have their days when they can really go off.”

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post file photo
WVU’s Craig Carey (right) passes the ball past a defender from the Virginia Military Institute.

Game 10
Cleveland State at WVU men 2 p.m. Saturday TV: WVFX Channel 14 RADIO: WAJR 1440 AM
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