Ben Howlett’s reloading process kicks off fast | News, Sports, Jobs

WEST LIBERTY, WV — Fresh off a 13th straight NCAA Division II NCAA Tournament finish and fifth straight Mountain East Conference title, West Liberty men’s basketball coach Ben Howlett , is already reloading for the 2022-23 season.

Howlett, the reigning MEC Coach of the Year after leading the 2021-22 Hilltoppers to a second-place finish in the latest NABC National Top 25, started his offseason in style by adding three new faces to the black-and-gold crease .

Steve Cannady is a 6-1 graduating Mercyhurst, Pennsylvania transfer guard with over 1,000 college points to his name. Alek West, a 6-4 shooter, averaged 16.0 ppg. in Ohio Dominican last year and has two years left of eligibility. Fin Woodward is a 6-7 power forward from England who has played at a nationally ranked prep school in the States this season.

“This class checks a lot of the boxes that we look for at West Liberty,” Howlett said. “As well as being extremely coachable and very team-oriented, they all bring great skills to the program and have the ability to play in multiple positions. What really excites us is the impression that they have made on us as individuals. They are guys you enjoy being around day in and day out. Very competitive, they bring a level of maturity and tenacity to the top and we can’t wait to start working with them.”

Cannady, a native of Bowie, Md., transferred to Mercyhurst after his freshman year at Wheeling and played a key role in back-to-back NCAA Tournament teams for the Lakers. He scored 1,020 career points on 145 3-pointers, shooting 80% from the foul line and just under 40% from the 3-point arc. He hit double-digit 18 times for the Lakers last season, highlighted by a career-high 29 points in a season-ending game against a California (Pennsylvania) team that qualified for the Sweet 16.

“Steve is a sneaky scoring guard who comes to us from an elite program,” Howlett said.

“We knew him very well after playing him at Wheeling in his freshman year and think his speed will help us at both ends of the court.”

West, who played his high school ball at Sylvania (Ohio) Northview, was a stat sheet eater at ODU last season, averaging 6.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists on his 16.0 points per game . He played in 22 double-digit games and led the nation with 2 triple-doubles, including a night of 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over Salem. He scored 668 points in 54 career games.

“Alek is a veteran guard who has had consistent success at our level,” Howlett said. “He has an extremely versatile skill set and fills the stat sheet every night. We can feel comfortable placing it in multiple positions on the floor.

Woodward, from Bristol, England, who weighs 220 pounds on his 6-7 frame, has climbed the recruiting charts after a stellar prep season at the nationally ranked Spire Institute and Academy. Before coming to America, the left-handed striker was a double-figure goalscorer for the Scotland Under-16 national team, won a national title at Bristol Metro Academy and averaged a double-double in the Bristol’s Elite Academy Basketball League. He is also an exceptional student who maintained a grade point average of 4.00 with advanced placement courses at Speyer.

“Fin is a prototypical ‘big’ West Liberty. He can do a little bit of everything because he’s very gifted and has the ability to score at all three levels. We’re delighted to have the chance of the coaching and we look forward to seeing him continue his development when we take to the field in the fall.

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