WVU gets verbal from Wheeling Central’s Harler

WHEELING – When you get the chance to play at the school you’ve always dreamed of playing at, why delay the decision?

That was the exact thinking of Wheeling Central junior-to-be Chase Harler Sunday afternoon.

After taking part in West Virginia University’s Elite Camp this weekend, Mountaineers’ head coach Bob Huggins extended a formal offer for Harler to join WVU’s 2016 recruiting class.

“I think it took me about five seconds to commit,” Harler said during a phone interview. “From the time I really started to take basketball seriously in about the seventh grade, I’ve always had the goal and dream to play at WVU.”

Harler heard from the Mountaineers’ coaching staff late last week. They inquired through his dad to see if he was coming down to Morgantown for the camp.

“I had made my decision on Thursday night that if WVU offered (during the weekend) I was going to commit,” Harler admitted. “We were down there Saturday and Sunday and I was kind of nervous on whether they’d offer or not, but we were meeting with Coach Huggins and he told me they were all in and ready to offer.”

Harler is the Mountaineers’ first commitment for the 2016 class and can’t officially sign his national letter of intent until November of 2015 during the NCAA’s early signing period.

Though he’s still more than a year away from formally becoming a Mountaineer, the recruiting process is over.

“I am all in,” Harler said. “I’ve thought about whether or not some bigger like ACC schools or something might get involved, but my heart is all in to WVU. I am solidly committed to them and thankful they’re giving me the opportunity to play there.”

Harler is especially excited about the opportunity to play for Huggins.

“I really like his (coaching) style,” Harler said. “I like the straight forwardness he has with the players. He’s not going to sugarcoat anything and tells you how it is. He’s the third winningest coach and a future hall of famer … I am not sure it gets much better than that.”

As a sophomore, Harler helped lead the Maroon Knights to the Class A state championship and a 25-3 record, which also included the OVAC Class 2A title and an impressive victory against St. Joseph’s Prep in the Cancer Research Classic.

En route to numerous post-season honors, Harler averaged 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Coach Mel Stephens’ squad.

Since the high school season ended, Harler has played for the West Virginia Wildcats Select squad and his stock really took off as he developed into one of the leaders of the squad.

“That time period between high school and AAU, I worked a lot on my shot and when you’re shooting the ball well, it opens up a lot of things in your offensive game,” Harler said. “Playing against high-level competition each weekend in the top bracket makes you elevate your game. I’ve always felt I’ve played better against better competition.”

Harler will have a new cast around him this winter when the Knights’ season begins at home against St. Clairsville. However, winning is the only stat that matters for Harler.

“I am sure a lot of people (around West Virginia) will see that we graduated seven seniors and think we don’t have much, but we’ve got a lot of guys who are buying into their roles,” Harler said. “

While the month of August is a down period for hoops, the work doesn’t stop for Harler.

“I need to continue to get stronger and gain weight,” Harler said. “My goal is to get to 195 pounds. Plus, I need to continue to work on my ball handling and you can never work enough on your shooting.”

Since the news of Harler’s commitment broke Sunday, the day was an absolute whirlwind.

“It was an exciting day,” Harler said. “I think I did 11 or 12 interviews, gained 100 followers on Twitter and gotten all kinds of texts and messages congratulating me.”

Harler had five scholarship offers. His first was from Marshall. He also had offers from Winthrop, James Madison and Elon, all Division I schools. Prior to committing, Harler had heard from N.C. State, Virginia and Davidson.