MORGANTOWN - You don't hear anyone saying Alex Ruoff is on course to wind up in a whirlwind finish as NBA rookie Joe Alexander did in ending his West Virginia University basketball career last March.
But even Bob Huggins, his second-year head coach, is hearing others in collegiate coaching circles talking about how much improved the only senior on this year's WVU squad is midway through the 2008-09 campaign.
"Alex has grown up a lot since I got here," Huggins said the other day. ""I've talked to other people, and the consensus is that he's a much better basketball player today. Before, he was a three-point shooter and he passed the ball.
"But he scores more -and in more ways now - than anyone ever imagined he'd be able to score."
Ruoff, a 6-6, 215-pound guard from Spring Hill, Fla., was recruited by Coach John Beilein and played two years under him. He saw very little action as a freshman, getting just 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in 21 games.
However, he started all 26 games as a sophomore, averaging 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and dishing a team-high 191 assists. Defensively, he logged 72 steals and blocked 12 shots.
Ruoff showed even more improvement last season when Huggins took over. He averaged 13.8 points and 3.5 rebounds, and logged 103 assists, 57 steals and 12 blocked shots.
In leading the way in 15 of West Virginia's first 17 games during the first half of this season, he's scoring at a 16.5 ppg clip, averaging 3.6 rebounds, and has 45 assists, 26 steals and six blocked shots. (He missed two games with back spasms.)
In the process, Ruoff became the 46th 1,000-point career scorer in WVU history against Cleveland State on Dec. 5. He also scored a career-high 38 points on Dec. 23 against Radford and broke the school record for most three-point goals in a game with nine.
That earned him the Big East Player of the Week Award.
"We post him," Huggins said after last week's victory over South Florida. "He was in there a lot when needed to help keep a ball alive. How many times did he drive it to the basket!
"And that's a guy who rarely ever got inside the three-point line before. I think he's matured tremendously as a player, and he's much more versatile."
What's more, he's a fine young man who represents WVU as well off the court as he does on the court.
A noted artist named Jeff Moores has been officially authorized by the Collegiate Licensing Co. and WVU to produce a new Mountaineer Field poster and T-shirt.
He's thinking about drawing numerous other designs that he hopes will appeal to WVU students as well as older Mountaineer fans in 2009. Some of his work has appeared in New Yorker magazine.
Jeff Moores has an established website at www.Findharri.com His studio is in New York state. He and Don Strimbeck of Granville have been close friends for many years.
While he's not a West Virginia graduate, he's certainly a Mountaineer fan who watches the football and basketball teams when their games are televised.