By R.L. Bynum
UNC coach Hubert Davis went inside the conference to grab a player from the transfer portal, luring Justin McKoy from Virginia.
The 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward is coming home in a sense considering McKoy played his high school ball at Cary’s Panther Creek High School, where he was rated as a 3-star prospect. He is Panther Creek’s all-time leading scorer with 2,054 points.
McCoy will have three years of eligibility.
McKoy is the first undergraduate scholarship player to transfer to Carolina since Makhtar N’Daiye came to Chapel Hill from Michigan in 1995.
McKoy isn’t the only Virginia player transferring within the ACC. On Friday, guard Casey Morsell announced that he was transferring to N.C. State.
“I’ve always wanted a player like Justin,” Carolina coach Hubert Davis said. “He’s a versatile 4, someone who can play small and power forward. When we scout other teams, that has been one type of player that has caused us problems. A player who can post up a smaller guy or take a bigger defender out on the perimeter and drive or shoot. Defensively, Justin has the ability to switch all ball screens, is a great rebounder and plays with tremendous effort. I will never have to coach effort with him. I think he’s a great player, but an even better kid. He loves to work hard, cares about people and about being a great teammate and he loves his family. His parents have always been Tar Heel fans and this is a place where he wants to be.”
In two seasons with the Cavaliers, he started only four of 33 games, averaging 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 48.3% from the floor. Players and coaches have praised his work ethic.
McKoy’s playing time was limited to an average of 11 minutes because he was playing behind Sam Hauser, Jay Huff and Trey Murphy. He got the most playing time of the ACC season with 21 minutes against Miami, collecting eight points, six rebounds and two steals in Virginia’s 62–51 victory.
McKoy didn’t play in Virginia’s 60–48 home win Feb. 13 over Carolina. During his freshman season, McKoy only got into the first of the Cavaliers’ two wins over UNC, with four points and five rebounds in 17 minutes of their 56–47 win Dec. 8, 2019.
McKoy made 3 of 9 3-point attempts last season after not attempting any in his freshman season. He made eight of 10 free-throw attempts.
He didn’t go with the Virginia team to Indianapolis for its NCAA tournament game because he was on COVID-19 quarantine.
Picked for the All-ACC Academic Team, his career-high in points (11) and rebounds (6) game against San Francisco on Nov. 27.
Pool photos by Andrew Shurtleff