MORGANTOWN -- At 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, freshman B.J. Byerson looks more like a senior tight end than a first-year power forward.
But his bulk, combined with his ability to shoot from the outside will give second-year West Virginia coach John Beilein some much-needed depth in the front line.
"He'll be an impact player for us," Beilein said. "He's 250 but can run the floor and he's got great feet.
"With that size, he has to play for us."
Outside of centers D'or Fischer (6-11, 244) and Kevin Pittsnogle (6-10, 235), the Mountaineers have no substantial size. Junior Tyrone Sally has added 20 pounds to his frame and is now more than 200 pounds, but that's still small stuff in the rugged Big East.
That makes Byerson's development crucial if WVU wants to successfully compete in the conference.
Byerson played his senior season at Thomas Dale High School in Colonial Heights, Va., at 225 pounds. He's happy about the added weight.
"I came in here in the summer and began working out while I was taking some classes," Byerson said. "I've put on 25 pounds of muscle since I got here.
"My mom hardly knew me when I went back home after summer school. I've been working out really hard and eating right, and it's paying off."
Byerson racked up some impressive statistics his senior year at Thomas Dale, located in a suburb of Richmond. He averaged 22.7 points and 12.4 rebounds. He also averaged 3.2 assists and 3 blocks.
Despite his size, Byerson spent a great deal of time on the perimeter in his high school offense.
"Coach liked me to come out and get the ball," Byerson said. "Not just because I could shoot, but I could look in off the wing and get the ball to my teammates cutting through the lane for easy baskets."
It appears Byerson is a good fit for Beilein's offense, which stresses passing and outside shooting.
He appears to have the mental part down too.
"Not only were schools recruiting me, I was recruiting schools, too," he said. "I wanted to go to a school that had a good civil engineering program.
"It came down to WVU and North Carolina State."
The deciding factors for his choice were "the people, the beautiful campus and a chance to play in the Big East."
Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org