Feb. 13—It took four years, three universities, a high school teammate's recommendation and a determined approach for Justin McKoy to become a sensation.
It took four years, three universities, a high school teammate's recommendation and a determined approach for Justin McKoy to become a sensation.
On Monday, McKoy, a 6-foot-8 forward for the Hawaii basketball team, was named the Big West Player of the Week.
"I'm very thankful, very blessed, " McKoy said. "I've stayed faithful, prayed for four years to have this opportunity to come out here and play. God has answered my prayers. My teammates have helped so much."
McKoy averaged 19.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in last week's victories over UC San Diego and UC Davis. Both opponents entered in second place.
"Super proud of our team, " said McKoy, whose'Bows improved to 6-7 in league play to ascend into a tie for the fifth seed in next month's eight-team Big West Tournament. "Two big wins like that. To come out and shake things up in conference and get back in the mix and then have the (Big West ) honor stacked on top of it is just awesome."
McKoy played 33 games in two years at Virginia through 2021 and then 41 games the next two seasons at North Carolina. He played briefly in the semifinals and championship game of North Carolina's 2022 Final Four.
Last spring, McKoy entered the NCAA's transfer portal, catching the attention of UH point guard Juan Munoz. Munoz, who is three years older, and McKoy were Panther Creek High (Cary, N.C.) teammates.
"They played together, " UH coach Eran Ganot said. "They've known each other for a long time."
After joining the'Bows last summer, McKoy began the developmental process. Ganot said McKoy went from a limited role to increased minutes to being a key part of plays to the focus of opponents' scouting to last week's breakout performance. "He's checked those boxes, " Ganot said.
Against UCSD, McKoy scored a career-high 22 points and made three momentum-turning defensive plays in overtime. Against UCD, of McKoy's 17 points, 10 came during an 18-2 run.
"Just that competitive nature of wanting to win, " McKoy said of paint-thinning drives against two of the Big Wests top teams. "I felt like, 'You know what, let's go for it.' And I decided to be super aggressive but also play for the team. That just worked in my favor the last two games."
Point guard JoVon McClanahan, who has missed the past two games because of a shoulder injury, was scheduled to undergo an MRI.