WVU's Jonnie West Seeks a Ring Dad Doesn't Have
Yet, Jonnie West is hoping to achieve something not even his father could -- and that's to win an NCAA national title.
"I can finally get something to brag about over him," Jonnie West told FanHouse. "But he's got a couple more [NBA] things on me."
A 6-foot-3 junior guard at West Virginia, Jonnie West and the Mountaineers face Duke in Saturday's national semifinals. The Mountaineers are in their first Final Four since 1959 when Jerry West led West Virginia to the NCAA final.
That year, West Virginia lost to California, 71-70, for the national championship. It's a game that still resonates with Jerry West, who was named the MVP despite playing on the losing team.
"The only memory [of West Virginia] he shares with me is them losing in the Final Four," Jonnie West said Saturday following WVU's win against Kentucky in the East Region final. "That's all he really talks about."
Jonnie said Saturday he would insist on his father coming to Indianapolis for the Final Four. However, Jerry West told the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail Sunday he would not attend.
"It's hard to be Jerry West anywhere, especially in this state," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "You don't have any peace and quiet. It's hard to come to a game and watch a game because of the admiration people have for him."
In Jonnie West's three seasons at West Virginia, he has played sparingly. He's averaging less than two points a game and scored a career-high 11 points earlier this season against Long Beach State. In Saturday's victory against Kentucky, West entered the game late for his free throw shooting ability, but did not score.
"Jonnie is a wonderful guy and great teammate," Huggins said. "The players love him."
Jonnie said all of his teammates realize how important they are to their fans and the state overall and what a national title would mean to the state.
"We're trying to add some nice hardware," Jonnie said. "We've got two nets right now [from the Big East Tournament and East Region final], we need one more net.
"We're very excited, we're doing this for the state of West Virginia. The state of West Virginia has a very special place in my family's heart, my heart and my dad's heart and this whole team, including coach Huggins. It really means a lot.
"Once people come to this state they realize what it means right away. We're the pro sports team in West Virginia. To carry that weight on our shoulders, we like that challenge. We want to do something special for the state. We have a chance with two more wins in the Final Four to do something really special."
Jerry West told the Charleston Daily Mail how much the state of West Virginia still means to him.
"My association with West Virginia is the highlight of my life," West told the newspaper. "I love the people there. I just love the stuff that goes on within the state and the excitement that's there now. Winning two more games -- oh my gosh -- I'd be thrilled for everybody, particularly the university, where it's been so meaningful for me. I hope they can do that. The jubilation for the state and the kids ..."
Contact FanHouse senior writer Brett McMurphy at email@example.com or on Twitter @Brettmcmurphy