All Noah Cottrill ever wanted to do was play college basketball.
As a highly touted youth player, the already boisterous and flashy high school freshman announced his intentions publicly — by verbally committing to WVU at least two full years before he had to.
But after a highly decorated and successful prep career on the basketball floor, and a host of personal issues off of it for the past two years, Cottrill has landed in Beckley.
Friday, he told The Register-Herald that he is transferring to play at NAIA Division I power Mountain State University.
Cottrill will suit up for the Cougars this winter as MSU takes aim for yet another berth in the national championship tournament in Kansas City.
Cottrill, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, will have four years of eligibility.
“It feels great,” Cottrill said. “I’ve had some setbacks, but I’ve been on the right path for a good while now. I’m doing right.
“All I have left to do now is play college basketball and get my degree. That’s my main goal. I want to keep getting better and better – and not just on the basketball court.”
Being familiar with the MSU program and coach Bob Bolen played a big factor in his decision.
“I’ve known coach Bolen since I was 14 or 15 years old,” Cottrill said. “He’s been like a father figure to me. He’s someone I could always call and talk to. He’s just a great guy, not with just basketball.
“They always contend for national championships, and I wanted to go somewhere that I could win.
“I see our team winning a national championship, absolutely. I’ll do whatever it takes to win one.”
“We know that Noah has made a lot of mistakes over the past two years,” Bolen said. “He has begun to correct those, so we’re excited to get him.
“By the time our season starts, he’ll be a top level player again. He’s playing at a high level now.”
Cottrill was one of the nation’s top rated prep point guards in the 2010 recruiting class, and was rated a 4-star prospect by Rivals.com and Scout.com.
ESPN ranked him the 16th best point guard and 68th best player overall in the 2010 recruiting class.
He arrived in Morgantown after winning a Class AAA state championship at Logan.
But by October 2010, WVU head coach Bob Huggins had suspended Cottrill from the team “indefinitely” for conduct “unbecoming of a Mountaineer.”
Then in January 2011, WVU released a statement saying Cottrill had withdrawn from the school.
Things took yet another sour turn.
In December 2011, Cottrill was charged with possession of a controlled substance and petty larceny, both misdemeanors, and taken to Southwestern Regional Jail where he was released on $2,500 bond.
His mug shot was splashed on the Internet. Rumors flew all about.
But Cottrill kept himself under the radar for the following months. And he concentrated on getting his life in order.
Over the past several weeks, Cottrill has promised his 5,438 followers via his personal Facebook account that he was staying “clean and sober,” “living sober #onedayatatime” and “motivated.”
“I’ve messed up and had some setbacks,” Cottrill admitted. “I’m going to have a success story to tell, because I’ve been through it all and seen it all. I’ve been right for a while now; otherwise, I wouldn’t be taking this step now to play basketball.
“Coach Bolen is going to help me stay on the right path too,” Cottrill said. “That’s why I’m playing for him. He’s a great guy.”
“We have a plan in place to give Noah every chance to be successful in all areas of his life,” Bolen said. “I care about him. He has already started the process of getting his life back in order.”
“My family has my back too,” Cottrill said. “My brother Ricky has been a huge support for me. We talk every day. He reminds me that a lot of people do care about me. He’s been a big inspiration. Everyone’s support has been great.”
Cottrill had a lot of options to weigh in picking a school.
“I still had four years at either NCAA Division II or NAIA,” he explained. “The thing with NCAA Division I, when your D-I clock starts, you have five years to complete four years of eligibility. If I would have went somewhere and sat out (due to a transfer rules) I would only have one year left (to play). If I’d want to get my degree, I would have to stay another two years without basketball. So that was a huge factor. That was a lot to swallow.”
“I’ve been humbled. It’s been a great process of humbling, trust me, these last two years.
“I missed basketball; it was eating at me,” he added. “I’ve been working out hard core for the last three or four months. I feel great now. I’ll be back to where I was before, if not better. I’m excited.”
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Cottrill began his high school career at Poca, playing two years there, scoring 1,164 points. He averaged 23.8 ppg as a freshman and 30.9 as a sophomore.
He transferred to Beckley’s Mountain State Academy, a now defunct prep school, his junior year.
The standout finished out his high school career by winning the Class AAA state championship at Logan. He was given the Bill Evans Award, which signifies the W.Va. boys basketball player of the year.
Cottrill had many accomplishments during his prep career, including 2,808 career points in four years.
But official state records do not include his 836 points scored his junior season in 34 games at Mountain State Academy, a non-WVSSAC school.
If so, he would have been second on the list of all-time scorers in the state behind Josh Delawder of Paw Paw who netted 2,965 points from 1997-2000.
During his senior year, his last season on the court — Cottrill averaged 29.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 steals for Logan.
— E-mail: jworkman@
All Noah Cottrill ever wanted to do was play college basketball.
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