Roanoke Times UVA beat writer Doug Doughty was the first to report that the Virginia men’s basketball program is hosting transfer wing Braxton Key on a visit Wednesday (May 2). According to Doughty, the former Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, VA) standout will tour Virginia before heading off to visit ACC-rival Miami.
Key, whose uncle is legendary Virginia player Ralph Sampson, is transferring from the University of Alabama after two years in Tuscaloosa. In accordance with Division 1 men’s basketball transfer rules, he will have to sit out one season but will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in the 2019/2020 campaign.
For Virginia, the timing would seem to work out very well. The 6’8”, 225-pound Key could be an ideal replacement for De’Andre Hunter should Hunter declare for the 2019 NBA Draft, which he is expected to do assuming he builds off of his redshirt freshman performance. Key’s size and athleticism are similar to Hunter’s. Defensively, he should be able to play the combo forward role Hunter played so well last season. Key has not displayed Hunter’s all-around ability on offense; however, he did average 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game as a true freshman for the Crimson Tide. He averaged 7 points and 5.3 boards per game during his sophomore campaign after missing the first nine games of the year due to injury.
In high school, Key attended Christ Presbyterian (Nashville, TN) before transferring to Oak Hill for his senior season. Alabama, Kansas, Tennessee, Texas, Vanderbilt and Virginia made the consensus 4-star prospect’s final six. Key would commit to the Tide in October of 2015, a month after Hunter had pledged to the Cavaliers.
When we spoke with Key at the 2014 NBPA Top 100 Camp, he said the following when asked about Virginia: “My uncle Ralph played here. I guess it’s a little bit of pressure to go to Virginia and come back here and basically relive his legacy or something like that, but I like Virginia a lot. Coach Bennett’s a great guy. A man of God. He’s kind of like my high school coach, [Christ Presbyterian (Nashville, TN) head coach Drew] Maddox, so it would kind of be like playing for my high school coach in a way. [Bennett] knows how to win. He proved that last year and they’re just going to get better and better.”
In addition to the potential to play a significant role right off the bat, another positive in Virginia’s favor could be the fact that Key is good friends with Cavalier shooting guard Kyle Guy. If Guy does not turn pro after his third year, the two would have an opportunity to play alongside one another in the 2019/2020 season.