Among the problems with winter sports in the east is the potential for postponements, cancellations and delays.
While recent winter seasons in West Virginia have been comparatively mild, Mother Nature has made up for it this year with 56 girls and boys basketball games combined statewide postponed or outright cancelled on Friday night.
On Thursday night, the number was 48 and on Tuesday it was 40. Oh, by the way, there were only four games called off on Wednesday.
Class AA Shady Spring hasn't played a game since Dec. 29, putting at least 12 days between contests for the Tigers. Like most coaches, the Tigers' 13th-year head man Steve Clark said that the rest isn't necessarily a good thing.
"We've had three games that we've had to postponed," Clark told the Beckley Register-Herald. "It makes it tough. We need to play those games. Most of them are teams in our region. They affect the seedings in the tournament."
Little snow is in the forecast this week for most of the state, which should mean nightly basketball. Which also means that players can resume quests toward state tournament bids for their teams and state player of the year honors for themselves.
In the boys division, the Evans Award – given to the state's top player and voted by approximately 100 members of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association – has a short list of candidates.
In my 20 years of sportswriting, seldom has there been a heavy favorite to win the Evans Award.
Two years ago, O.J. Mayo won the award after helping Huntington win its third consecutive Class AAA state title. In 1999, Brett Nelson of St. Albans ran away with the award, played four years at the University of Florida for coach Billy Donovan and is an assistant coach at Marshall University.
How about this season?
Most would say Logan High School star Noah Cottrill is a shoo-in for the trophy.
Last year, South Charleston's Aaron Dobson won the Evans Award while Cottrill was playing as a non-eligible player for the award at Mountain State Academy – a private school in Beckley.
Cottrill's return to a Secondary School Activities Commission-member school returns his eligibility and makes the WVU signee the odds-on favorite. Not everyone agrees, as Ripley coach Craig Harmon proclaimed that his star guard – junior Chase Fischer – is the best player in the state.
Of course, the voting doesn't take place until late in the season, which allows the state's prep players to make their case as the Mountain State's No. 1 boys basketball player.
Here are some candidates in no particular order:
Noah Cottrill, Logan, Sr., 6-3, G – Can shoot, distribute and is a tremendous one-on-one player, not limiting himself to the perimeter.
Chase Fischer, Ripley, Jr., 6-4, G – Also a combo guard, Fischer's best attribute is unlimited range, but displays a wide array of abilities as a point guard.
Bubby Goodwin, Wheeling Park, Jr., 6-2, G – Another combo guard, Goodwin's chances were helped by a two-game tour in the State Tournament last year.
Jack Flournoy, Oak Hill, So., 6-6, F – Too young? Maybe, but he has a bright future for the Red Devils and also played in last year's state tournament
T.J. Thompson, Preston, 6-4, Sr., F – Last year's North Central Athletic Conference Player of the Year missed the state tournament, but the Knights are unbeaten (8-0) and the best team in the Northeast portion of the state.
Jalen Walker, Greenbrier East, 5-11, Sr., G – A good player on an average team. Walker's team will be hard-pressed for a state tournament berth while residing in one of the state's strongest regions.
Pierria Henry, South Charleston, 6-0, Sr., G – Will be counted on to lead the Black Eagles back to the state tournament, where they've reached the title game three consecutive years.
A look at the top girls players in the state will come later in the week.
Rich Stevens, a sportswriter for the Charleston Daily Mail, covers West Virginia for MaxPreps.