West Virginia basketball dismisses starters Esa Ahmad, Wesley Harris for violation of policies

West Virginia's had a rough go of it this season, and it might not get much better. West Virginia forwards Esa Ahmad and Wesley Harris, two starters for the Mountaineers, have been dismissed from the basketball team for a violation of athletic department policies, the program announced Monday evening. No further details were offered into why the pair was dismissed. Ahmad, a senior, started 22 of 23 games this season for the Mountaineers, averaging 12.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest. Harris, a junior, started in 17 of 22 games he appeared in, averaging 7.9 points and 4.5 rebounds. 

West Virginia's already endured a brutal season with an injury to star shot-blocker Sagaba Konate looming over a 10-14 campaign. Konate is done for the year, too, an already brutal blow dealt last month to a team working through kinks of losing veterans Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. off last season's 26-win squad.

With Ahmad and Harris out, things likely won't get better. Depth has been a concern for Bob Huggins' team in a rebuilding year, and two starters being removed from the program won't help the cause. The Mountaineers have the worst record in the Big 12 at 2-9, tied with Oklahoma State for the fewest wins, and it's been tough sledding since the calendar turned to 2019. They've lost 10 of their last 12 dating back to Jan. 2, and are in the midst of a two-game skid.

West Virginia travels to face reigning Big 12 champion Kansas on Saturday before facing league-leading Kansas State and Baylor in consecutive games. All three are viable contenders to win the league outright, so things will get worse before they get better for the Mountaineers.

Reason for optimism abounds for West Virginia, however, just maybe not this season. Coming into Morgantown next season is five-star center Oscar Tshiebwe, the highest-ranked recruit to ever join West Virginia, and the promising trio of of Derek Culver, Lamont West and James Bolden should be a year older and more equipped to win at the level fans are accustomed to seeing under legendary coach Huggins.

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