Home How are recent UVA Hoops transfers doing with their new schools?

How are recent UVA Hoops transfers doing with their new schools?

Scott Ratcliffe
casey morsell
Photo: UVA Athletics

After witnessing former Virginia forward Justin McKoy being booed mercilessly in his return to John Paul Jones Arena earlier this week, it got me thinking about how exactly each one of the guys who recently left the UVA program and are now playing elsewhere are faring with their new squads.

McKoy was a guy who was thought to receive a lot more playing time with the Cavaliers heading into the 2021-22 season, but chose instead to transfer to ACC rival North Carolina to finish out his college career.

In just eight games in this, his senior season with the Tar Heels, McKoy is averaging just 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.5 minutes per game. He was thrust into the lineup Tuesday night when UNC star center Armando Bacot left the game with an ankle injury. McKoy was 1-for-3 with 2 points, 6 rebounds and an assist in 15 minutes against his former team, and the boos grew louder every time he touched the basketball.

Although the Hoos and Heels faced each other twice last season, neither of those games were played in Charlottesville, so Tuesday was the first chance for Cavalier fans to let McKoy hear it in person. In 33 career games for UVA, McKoy averaged 2.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 9.6 minutes per game. In a season and a half in Chapel Hill, he’s averaging the same numbers as above — 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds — in 6.9 minutes a night (38 games).

In all, seven players have transferred out of Tony Bennett’s program over the past two seasons. For some, like McKoy and a couple of the other guys I’m about to mention, the decision to leave was rather puzzling and oddly timed for Wahoo fans.

For others, like Casey Morsell, the transfer portal has paid off.

Morsell is NC State’s third-leading scorer, averaging 12.9 points per game. He struggled with his shot at UVA after being heralded as a 3-point shooting specialist coming out of high school, but he’s found his groove now in his second year in Raleigh.

Morsell, who averaged just 4.2 points on 20-percent shooting from deep during his two years with Virginia, is shooting 45-for-100 (45 percent) from 3-point land with the Wolfpack this season. He’s started in all 18 games, averaging 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals as well, and he’s playing a key role on both ends of the floor for Kevin Keatts’ team, which finds itself on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

“To his credit, he has worked extremely hard on his shot,” Keatts said of Morsell. “He had to adjust to the way we play compared to the way he left UVA, which obviously is a good program, but we play a lot different.”

I’m interested to hear the response when Morsell’s name is called during the starting lineups when State travels to Charlottesville next month for his first trip back to JPJ (the teams’ lone meeting last season was played in Raleigh).

After barely seeing the floor in his freshman season at UVA (37 total minutes in 8 games), Jabri Abdur-Rahim, who also left after the 2020-21 campaign, is experiencing some success at Georgia, where he’s putting up 6.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game. He’s played in all 17 games for the 13-4 Bulldogs, scoring in double figures six times with a season high of 15 against Rider on Dec. 28. Abdur-Rahim notched his first career double-double (12 points and 11 rebounds) 10 days earlier in a win over Notre Dame. His career high of 20 points came last season against Wofford.

Igor Milicic Jr., who quickly became a fan favorite at JPJ as a freshman last season, transferred to Charlotte and is now playing in Conference USA for former Bennett assistant Ron Sanchez. Milicic is third on the 49ers in scoring with 9.8 points a game, and is second on the team in rebounds with 5.5 in his 24.3 minutes per game.

On Saturday, Milicic posted a team-high 16 points (including three 3-pointers) and matched a team-high with his 7 rebounds, as Charlotte defeated UTSA to move to 12-5 on the year and 3-3 in conference play.

Seeing limited action in his two years with the Hoos, Carson McCorkle is now at Wofford and playing in the Southern Conference. He had the biggest game of his college career over the weekend, pouring in a game-high (and career-high) 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting (6-for-7 from downtown) in just 17 minutes off the bench, leading the 11-8 Terriers to a 19-point win over VMI.

“I haven’t shot that well all year, so it felt good,” McCorkle said. “Shots were falling in. I had some open ones early and that got me into a rhythm, so I felt a little lucky there at the beginning, but I kept making shots and made a couple tough ones.”

On the season, the 6-foot-3 sophomore is averaging 6.3 points in 18.4 minutes, starting in two of his 19 games. He’s shooting 32 percent from 3-point range (28-for-87) after going 6-for-20 in his two seasons with the Cavaliers.

Louisa County native Malachi Poindexter was a walk-on from nearby St. Anne’s-Belfield who earned a decent amount of playing time as a sophomore last season for the Cavaliers. Poindexter wound up at Illinois State, where he’s been thriving in a reserve role off the bench.

Poindexter is averaging 9.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 30.9 minutes per contest. He’s the 8-11 Redbirds’ top 3-point shooter, with a team-high 30 triples on 72 attempts (42 percent). In his last three games, Poindexter is averaging 14 points and 3.7 rebounds, connecting on 8-of-19 from 3-point land.

Jayden Nixon, a member of the 2019 UVA national championship squad, transferred to Division-III Johns Hopkins after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology last spring, and is getting by far the most playing time of his career in the Centennial Conference.

Nixon, who also walked onto the Cavaliers from St. Anne’s, is putting up 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game for the 12-3 Blue Jays, shooting 11-for-38 from 3-point range. In his four seasons with the Hoos, Nixon played a total of 68 minutes in 24 games.

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe has worked as a freelance writer for several publications over the past decade-plus, with a concentration on local and college sports. He is also a writer and editor for his father’s website, JerryRatcliffe.com, dedicated to the coverage of University of Virginia athletics.