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June 10, 2013
When former West Virginia basketball player Cam Thoroughman once told his boss that there wasn't anything he could say to him in a performance review that he hadn't heard before, he meant it.
That's because after playing four seasons for Bob Huggins, the one-time Mountaineer forward had been through his fair share of constructive criticism and tough love. But Thoroughman, who now works with Marathon Petroleum at a refinery in Illinois, credits much of his time at West Virginia for helping him get to where he is today.
"At first I had some hesitation but I loved every minute of it and wouldn't want to change it for the world," he said.
Thoroughman was back in Morgantown over the weekend to serve as a counselor for the Bob Huggins fantasy camp a thought at one point he never knew could be a possibility.
After initially being recruited by John Beilein to attend West Virginia, a then redshirt freshman Thoroughman had plenty of thoughts racing through his mind when Beilein subsequently left Morgantown and Huggins was named the head coach.
Due to his reputation as a hard-nosed, no-nonsense coach, Thoroughman wondered how he and his fellow recruiting class would mesh with Huggins and his playing style.
That initial trepidation was only magnified for Thoroughman once he heard the initial message Huggins had for the team.
"I remember the words were this might be the hardest thing you've ever done in your life," he said.
"During the season you spend a lot of time with these guys and you're around them every single day and a lot of the hours of the day. And for someone to come in and say those words, it's like oh," he added.
True to his words, the head coach proved to be every bit as a tough as billed, but Thoroughman decided early on that he needed to buy into the message.
"We better show what we're worth here. He didn't recruit us, he didn't pick us to come here so if we don't show him we're worth something the he'll obviously get the guys he wants," he said.
Thoroughman saw limited action for the early portion of his career, but after taking on many of the same traits as his head coach as a tough, high effort player found an expanded role during his senior year averaging 20 minutes per game and developing into a fan favorite .
"A lot of us guys on the team were willing to do whatever it takes to get a W. At the end of the day that's all we cared about," he said. "If that meant you set ten screens and don't shoot the ball the whole game that's what we're going to do."
And by the time he left West Virginia he called it the "best time of my life," specifically citing the 2010 Big East Championship and singing John Denver's classic "Country Roads," inside Madison Square Garden as well when the Portsmouth, Ohio native was part of the Final Four and beat a heralded Kentucky team to do so.
Thoroughman attended the Purdue game this past season and spent some time with his head coach, but not to talk about basketball.
"We talked about life and things like that," he said.
And that relationship he's forged with his head coach is just another thing Thoroughman wouldn't trade for anything.
West Virginia NEWS