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Justin McKoy enters transfer portal: The rotation hole is gaping at this stage

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

Another day, another guy leaving the Virginia basketball program – today’s guy being 6’8” sophomore forward Justin McKoy.

“First off, I would like to thank the UVA staff, my teammates, and the entire Charlottesville community for the continuous support. Although I am entering the portal, the many things I have learned and gained will continue to assist my navigation on and off the court,” McKoy wrote in a message posted to Twitter on Tuesday.

“I wish my teammates and this staff nothing but the best. They are still considered family! Thank you UVA and thank you Charlottesville,” McKoy wrote.

McKoy is the third player from the 2020-2021 UVA roster to enter the transfer portal. Casey Morsell, a 6’4” sophomore, and 6’7” freshman Jabri Abdur-Rahim, the centerpieces of coach Tony Bennett’s last two recruiting classes, are also headed out.

McKoy wasn’t a primo recruiting get in 2019 – he was a consensus three-star – but he showed the most potential of the three who are leaving.

His counting numbers in 2020-2021 were modest – 3.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 11.3 minutes per game.

His play reminds you of other athletic, rangy, motor bigs from the Bennett era – Isaiah Wilkins comes to mind as the closest comparison.

McKoy can shoot it – he hit 48.3 percent of his shots from the field this season, and 33.3 percent from three.

And he can defend: Synergy Sports had him as the second-best defender among the 2020-2021 rotation guys, holding opponents to 0.750 points per possession.

Thing was, he didn’t get much rotation time. After starting the first four games, averaging 7.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per contest, McKoy languished in obscurity, registering five DNP-Coach’s Decisions and another nine games with minutes in the single-digits before Bennett plucked him from the heap and gave him 16 minutes in the 68-61 loss to N.C. State on Feb. 24.

McKoy averaged 16.8 minutes per game over the four-game stretch ending with UVA’s win over Syracuse in the ACC Tournament, putting up 4.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game over that stretch.

His season would come to a premature end in Greensboro when he tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to miss the loss to Ohio in the NCAA Tournament a week later.

You could look ahead to the fall and think McKoy would have a shot at increased minutes with the departures of starting bigs Jay Huff and Sam Hauser.

But you could also read body language. McKoy just didn’t seem happy, understandably so, considering how he was used – maybe misused is a better way to put it.

His departure leaves Virginia razor-thin in the post. Seriously, you have 6’11” redshirt freshman Kadin Shedrick, who averaged 7.8 minutes per game in 2020-2021, and 7’0” redshirt sophomore Francisco Caffaro, who got 6.9 minutes per game this past season.

Bennett is going to need to mine the transfer portal pretty hard.

Story by Chris Graham


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