MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins has announced that Maciej Bender and Chase Harler have signed national letters of intent for the 2016-17 academic year.
Later on Thursday Huggins also announced that Brandon Knapper has signed a national letter of intent for the 2016-17 academic year.
Knapper, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard from South Charleston, West Virginia, is currently in his senior season at South Charleston High, playing for coach Vic Herbert. As a junior, he averaged 23.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.8 steals per game and was the only returnee to the Class AAA All-State Basketball First Team. Knapper has scored more than 1,000 points in two seasons at South Charleston. He was named to the Mountain State Athletic Conference All-League Team his sophomore and junior years.
As a sophomore, Knapper averaged 18.9 points and 5.2 assists per game. He shot 52 percent from the floor and 86 percent from the foul line. Knapper scored 40 points in a win over Woodrow Wilson and scored 37 points in a victory over Spring Valley. He was the only non-senior on the Class AAA all-state basketball team. Knapper played AAU basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats.
“Brandon brings us another tough, skilled point guard,” said Huggins. “He has the ability to lead a team from the point guard position as well as effectively score the ball. He will be coming here well-schooled in our kind of basketball, having played for former Mountaineer Vic Herbert.”
Bender, a 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward from Warsaw, Poland, currently attends Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Virginia, playing for coach Pawel Mrozik. Through four games this season, Bender leads his team in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (8.8).
As a junior, Bender averaged 12.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game at Mountain Mission. Bender played on Poland’s U18/19 team in the European Championships. At the 2015 European Championships, Bender averaged 7.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, shooting 51.2 percent from the field. He played AAU basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats Select.
“Maciej is a tremendously skilled big man,” said Huggins. “He brings the ability to stretch the defense beyond the line and also score with his back to the basket. In addition, he gives us a big man capable of running the offense because of his ability to pass the basketball. We are really excited about his upside. He comes from a program where he has been well-coached in fundamentals as well as competing against top-notch competition.”
Harler, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard from Moundsville, West Virginia, is in his senior year at Wheeling Central Catholic High. Last year as a junior, Harler was named the West Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year, was named to USA Today’s All-USA West Virginia First Team and was a two-time selection to the All-OVAC First Team.
Playing for coach Mel Stephens, Harler has already set the school record for career points with 1,738. He broke the record in a 33-point performance in a regional co-final victory over Paden City. He averaged 24.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.7 blocks per game as a junior. Harler had 53 3-pointers to lead the Maroon Knights to a 24-4 overall record and state runner-up. As a sophomore, he was a key part of Wheeling Central’s Class A state championship winning team, averaging 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Harler is a two-time first team selection to the West Virginia Class A basketball all-state team, serving as captain of the first team as a junior. He played AAU basketball with the West Virginia Wildcats Select.
“Chase brings, among other things, a tremendous amount of energy to our basketball program,” said Huggins. “The last couple of years have certainly taught us how important energy and knowledge of the game can be. He brings a great skill set that will enable him to compete in the Big 12 Conference.”
The early signing period continues through next Wednesday.