At least, that's the hope for West Virginia University men's basketball coach Bob Huggins and the rest of the Mountaineers going into the 2019-20 season.
Culver, a forward, burst on the scene as a freshman for the Mountaineers last season, but had to wait nearly half the season to get the chance to show off his skills. He was suspended by Huggins after WVU's first game (in which he did not play) for a violation of team rules.
Since then, we've learned Culver was not always the most punctual player on West Virginia's roster, and being a little bit late cost him several games on the front end of his collegiate career.
"I was just being a knucklehead," Culver said Monday during an interview session at the Mountaineers' practice facility ahead of WVU's team trip to Spain next week. "I was defiant sometimes, but that being said (what I did) was nothing over the board, crazy or extreme.
"I wasn't like 40 minutes late - I would come in two or three minutes late, but it was the whole principle of being on time," he added. "That's what I had to understand."
Culver, a Youngstown, Ohio, native, played in 26 games for WVU last season with 14 starts.
In that time, he averaged 11.5 points and 9.9 rebounds as he played his way into a spot on the All-Big 12 second team. This season, he should have some help in the form of highly touted freshman forward Oscar Tshiebwe. The two have paired well in practice so far this summer, earning praise from Huggins in the process.
"I think if Derek continues with the attitude that he's displayed to this point, and he continues to work on his game, he's a guy I think we can build around," Huggins said. "They all want to win. They all don't mind sharing the ball, but I think they all understand that everything needs to go through the big fella. I think it's great for Oscar to play against Derek every day, because Oscar is finding out he's not the biggest, strongest dude out there - which is good for him.
"He's a great kid and he's going to do the things you ask him to do, he's going to work really hard at his skill level. We've got two guys that can go get it, and Logan (Routt) is playing better and better. We've got to keep them out of foul trouble and keep them on the floor."
Culver has taken a mature approach on the arrival of Tshiebwe. It would not be the first time a star recruit came into a college program and his mere presence ruffled some feathers belonging to those who were already there. That is not the case with Culver and Tshiebwe.
"You can't have somebody come in and do your job better than you, so you've got to step it up," Culver said. "That's all going to play into us being better players at the end of the day."
Huggins said he has already seen the pairing of Culver and Tshiebwe pay off in practice.
"I think Oscar has been really good for Derek, because the things Derek was not very good at, Oscar has made him do (those things) to compete - like run the floor," Huggins said. "How many times was I screaming at him to get down the floor? He has to with Oscar because Oscar is going to run it every single time. I think Oscar has learned from Derek as well - Derek's footwork, the way Derek carves out space for himself to rebound the ball. They're learning from each other."
According to Huggins, the plan is to deploy the duo of big underclassmen simultaneously as much as possible this season, but a lot of that is contingent on those two staying out of foul trouble.
"I would like to keep them both on the floor together as much as we can," Huggins said. "I think that really helps us as long as we can spread the floor enough for those other guys to get some shots."
On schedule: The announcement last week of WVU and Missouri playing in this season's Big 12/SEC Challenge put a bow on West Virginia's schedule for 2019-20.
In addition to taking on the Tigers, West Virginia also plays Akron, rival Pitt, Northern Colorado, Boston University, Northern Iowa, either South Carolina or Wichita State, Rhode Island, St. John's, Austin Peay, Nicholls State, Youngstown State and Ohio State in non-conference games.
It's a schedule Huggins said will challenge the Mountaineers, but one that will let him know just how good his team can be.
"It's a hard schedule, but I think we're up to the task," Huggins said. "I think we're going to be way better than what we were. The years that we've been really good, we've played a bunch of people who were really good and in tough venues. I think it can only help us, but it only helps if you win. Playing those games and losing doesn't help you any."
The Best and the rest: The team of WVU basketball alumni known as Best Virginia won its first game in The Basketball Tournament over the weekend, but fell in its second game to four-time defending champion Overseas Elite in the second round. The team of former Mountaineers came up short in their quest for the $2 million, winner-take-all prize but have vowed to be back next season.
Huggins watched the games and said the absence of former WVU guard Juwan Staten, who played in the game Best Virginia won but sat out the loss with a wrist injury, hurt the team against Overseas Elite.
"I think they missed Wanny," Huggins said. "Honestly, I thought they fouled them to death inside. When KJ (Kevin Jones) and Devin (Williams) get knocked backwards, it has to be a foul. It's not going to just be a little touch. I thought they really got beat up inside. I wouldn't have been very happy if I was sitting over there (on the bench)."
Huggins agreed when someone suggested he would not have been doing much sitting if he were the coach of the Best Virginia TBT team and took the opportunity to joke on former assistant coach Billy Hahn, who was also an assistant for Best Virginia over the weekend.
"No, I wouldn't (have been sitting)," Huggins said. "Billy never got up or did anything. I'm happy Billy didn't get his $50,000, because he didn't do anything."