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Breaking down the impacts of McKoy, Morsell transferring within the ACC

uva basketball
Photo credit: Johnnie Izquierdo / Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Justin McKoy is headed to North Carolina, Casey Morsell to N.C. State. Virginia hoops fans are fretting over losing guys to ACC rivals, but when you break it down, they shouldn’t be.

The 6’8” McKoy is the first recruit for coach Hubert Davis, who obviously sees in McKoy what Tony Bennett didn’t – that McKoy can play on the perimeter.

Bennett used McKoy at four, setting screens and rolling and popping off them in the mover-blocker, playing bigs and stretch fours in the Pack Line.

Davis must envision McKoy being able to contribute at three, because Carolina would appear to be loaded at four and five.

That’s assuming five-star freshmen Walker Kessler (transfer portal) and Day’Ron Sharpe and talented sophomore Armando Bacot (the latter two testing the NBA Draft waters) return.

Maybe Davis isn’t assuming they return, but even if they don’t, McKoy isn’t a classic North Carolina post guy.

The Carolina Way is to have bigs who are, you know, big – 6’10” and up, 240 pounds and up.

McKoy is 6’8”, 215, so, strikes one and two there.

Strike three would be how he gets his offense.

The Carolina Way: the bigs get the ball in the post, and power or drop-step or turnaround their way to buckets.

According to Hoop-Math, Bacot got 73.9 percent of his shots at the rim this past season.

Sharpe got 70.4 percent of his shots at the rim; Kessler, 68.9 percent.

Diving deeper, Synergy Sports had Sharpe getting 37.3 percent of his shots on post-ups, Bacot 28.0 percent, Kessler 26.6 percent.

McKoy, per Hoop-Math, got 53.4 percent of his shots at the rim, and 15.1 percent on post-ups.

You can say there has to be some allowance for how UVA’s offense is much less reliant on post-ups – the ‘Hoos only went to post-ups on 8.6 percent of their offensive possessions in 2020-2021; UNC used post-ups on 14.8 percent of possessions last season.

Maybe going to Chapel Hill and learning the Carolina Way gets McKoy to cut down on the two-point jumpers (31.0 percent of his shots last season) and threes (15.5 percent of his shots) and play back to the basket.

More likely, he’s a three who put up nine threes in 214 minutes, shot 37.3 percent on two- and three-point jumpers, and is going to contribute on offense mainly on offensive rebounds and transition.

He’s an energy guy, so maybe he can be another Leaky Black for the Tar Heels, but that’s the ceiling.

casey morsell
Casey Morsell attacks the rim in Virginia’s 64-62 win over Georgia Tech. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

On to Morsell. I’m not exactly sure where he fits in for coach Kevin Keatts after looking at what you’d expect to be returning for the fall.

State loses 6’0” guard Braxton Beverly (who has transferred to Eastern Kentucky), but otherwise returns the core of the rotation that went 6-2 down the stretch in 2020-2021.

Most likely, the 6’3” Morsell (4.4 ppg, 39.6% FG, 26.3% 3FG) is a depth guy in the backcourt next season – alongside Cam Hayes (7.8 ppg, 38.4% FG, 36.4% 3FG), Thomas Allen (7.4 ppg, 36.4% FG, 37.9% 3FG), Shakeel Moore (6.8 ppg, 44.1% FG, 34.4% 3FG) and Dereon Seabron (5.2 ppg, 48.5% FG, 25.0% 3FG).

Keatts also has a pair of incoming freshman recruits figured to compete for minutes in the backcourt – four-star Terquavion Smith and three-star Breon Pass.

That’s a lot of dudes competing for the 80 minutes that Keatts has to give out to his guards each night.

None of whom stands out right now as a difference-maker.

Maybe Morsell thinks the change of scenery will get him moving in that direction.

Bennett appears to have traded up with 6’4” guard Armaan Franklin (11.4 ppg, 42.9% FG, 42.4% 3FG at Indiana in 2020-2021) sliding into the roster and scholarship slot left open by Morsell’s departure.

Story by Chris Graham

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