Former Mountaineer Chase Harler spent a lot of time trapped inside during his first season of pro basketball in Lithuania.
No, not inside a gym, and it wasn’t by choice.
“I did 54 days total of quarantine,” Harler said. “Four 14s.”
Like it did to college Athletics, the coronavirus pandemic completely changed the landscape for European basketball leagues, including Lithuania’s second-tier NKL, the league that features Harler’s team, BC Palangos Kursiai.
“It was a lot. We almost went a whole month without playing, then we started playing three games a week,” Harler said. “We played Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday for about six weeks straight.”
But in a way, the sacrifices Harler made paid dividends. When the season did get rolling, he emerged as the go-to guy for BC Kursiai.
Harler averaged 15 points per game in his first pro season. For comparison, the Moundsville native averaged 4.4 points per game during his senior season at WVU.
His career high in old gold and blue? Fifteen points against Coastal Carolina in the 2019 CBI.
Harler’s shooting percentage during his first pro season was also better than any individual season at WVU. He shot 45 percent from the floor, 39 percent from beyond the arc and posterized one defender so badly that the play leads his season highlight reel.
“Just more confidence, more freedom I guess,” Harler said. “Just having the ball in my hands, making more plays.”
Harler is one of the newest members of the Best Virginia team that will co-host the West Virginia Regional of The Basketball Tournament starting July 17. During the TBT, he’ll be reunited with some former WVU teammates like Sagaba Konate and Logan Routt and play alongside program greats like Kevin Jones.
A $1 million grand prize is once again up for grabs at the TBT, but Harler stands to benefit from a strong showing even if Best Virginia doesn’t go all the way. He doesn’t know what’s next in his professional basketball journey, but he hopes to gain some attention by playing well at the TBT.
“I played well in Lithuania,” Harler said. “What I did will carry weight as the recruitment process starts, but like I said, the more you can add to your resume, the better.”
Best Virginia will take on WoCo Showtime July 17 at 2 p.m. in Charleston to begin its quest for the TBT’s $1 million prize.