One of the best college basketball teams in America just got better. After months and months of waiting, Alabama transfer Braxton Key has received a waiver from the NCAA; he’s now eligible for Virginia basketball this season.
Virginia's Braxton Key has received a waiver from the NCAA and is eligible for the entire 2018-19 season, per release. Transfer from Alabama.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) October 22, 2018
Even without Braxton Key, UVA had the makings of a Final Four team. Now, Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers get to add another multi-positional forward with some defensive chops to the rotation. The 6-foot-8 Key can guard a variety of positions; during his two seasons in Tuscaloosa, he logged big minutes (over 1,600) for two top-25 defenses (2017 and 2018), per KenPom.
For his career, Key has averaged 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks per 40 minutes. Put him in the frontcourt alongside De’Andre Hunter — one of the best defensive prospects in the nation — and Mamadi Diakite, and UVA could overwhelm opponents with serious length. Those post-to-post double teams in the Pack Line defense could be more ferocious than ever before.
Veteran center Jack Salt will obviously see minutes at the 5, but Virginia fans have to be dreaming about a crunch-time lineup of Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, Key, Hunter and Diakite that can score and matchup with anyone.
On offense, Key (career 47.5 eFG%) has struggled at times. After shooting 32 percent (43.2 eFG%, 0.86 points per possession) on half-court jump shots as a freshman, according to Synergy Sports, Key continued to have issues. In his sophomore season, that fell to 21.5 percent — 31.5 eFG%, 0.63 points per possession.
He did, however, shoot 66.7 percent and score 1.41 points per possession on put-backs after an offensive rebound last season, per Synergy.