Late in the weekend, Virginia basketball added another player to the program: Alabama transfer Braxton Key.
Key, a 6-foot-8 forward from Charlotte, logged 60 career games for the Crimson Tide — including 47 starts. As a freshman, Key scored 12 points per game; with Collin Sexton in Tuscaloosa this season, that dropped to seven. He also missed 10 games, too, due to a knee injury.
He will sit out the 2018-19 season; Key has two years of eligibility remaining.
On offense, Key has yet to prove to be the most efficient player: an offensive rating of 95.5 points per 100 possessions in 2017-18. Part of that equation, which will have to change upon arrival in Charlottesville: Key is a bit turnover prone. According to Sports Reference, the Oak Hill Academy alum (a top-60 prospect back in 2016), has a career turnover rate neighboring on 21 percent.
After returning from injury, Key’s jumper was a bit rusty. After shooting 32 percent (43.2 eFG%, 0.86 points per possession) on half-court jump shots as a freshman, according to Synergy Sports, the lanky forward had issues. In his sophomore season, that fell to 21.5 percent — 31.5 eFG%, 0.63 points per possession.
Key, for his career, is a sub-30 percent shooter on spot-up possessions, per Synergy. His redshirt season — another year of serious player development — will be critical here, too.
It’s also worth noting: Alabama didn’t do much on offense this season — save for getting the ball to Sexton, and getting out of the way. It will be adjustment to go from that to Virginia’s move-blocker motion attack; however, that’s probably a change for the better.
He did, however, find other ways to contribute on offense; according to Synergy, Key shot 66.7 percent and score 1.41 points per possession on put-backs after an offensive rebound.
Not to mention: Key also has a career assist rate of 17 percent. Some funky playmaking responsibilities could be on the horizon for Key.
Oh, yeah: Defense
Over the course of his two seasons at Alabama, Braxton Key played heavy minutes for two powerful defensive teams. According to KenPom, the Crimson Tide ranked inside the top 20 in defensive efficiency in each of the last two seasons — with Key vacillating between the two forward spots.
In Virginia’s Pack Line defense, Key is a natural fit to move around (guard multiple positions) and switch around the perimeter.
Another positive: Key is a blocks and steals player. For his career, he has a steal rate of 1.7 percent and a block rate of 2.1 percent. That’s a nice, relatively rare combination.