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Braxton Key cleared to play for men’s basketball

Alabama transfer granted hardship waiver from NCAA

<p>Virginia fans got their first look at Braxton Key during the Oct. 13 Blue-White Scrimmage.</p>

Virginia fans got their first look at Braxton Key during the Oct. 13 Blue-White Scrimmage.

With the beginning of their season only two weeks away, the Virginia men’s basketball team received some long-awaited good news Monday afternoon. Junior transfer forward Braxton Key was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA after filing for a hardship waiver in June.

Key announced his intent to transfer from Alabama to Virginia for his final two years of eligibility in May. Virginia filed for an eligibility waiver on his behalf in mid-June, looking to circumvent the year-long sit-out penalty the NCAA places on all basketball transfers. 

The waiver was a hardship request based on a sick family member that may not have been able to see him play if he had to sit out this season. The NCAA got around to his request after granting several other high-profile waiver requests in recent weeks.

After holding their breaths for months, Virginia now knows it will have another great weapon to add to an experienced team. Key burst onto the scene with the Crimson Tide as a freshman in 2016, averaging 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game en route to a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team. As a sophomore, a knee injury contributed to a drop in his averages and three-point percentage, but Key comes to Virginia healthy and ready to contribute.

At 6 feet 8 inches and 225 pounds, Key has a build similar to that of sophomore Cavalier forward De’Andre Hunter, last year’s ACC Sixth Man of the Year. He gives Coach Tony Bennett some much needed depth and versatility, as Key can function well as a wing or inside presence with his physicality. His tenacious rebounding will help Virginia put pressure on the boards after the graduations of two strong rebounders in forward Isaiah Wilkins and guard Devon Hall.

Key has been practicing with the team since his arrival to Charlottesville over the summer. In the team’s annual open Blue-White Scrimmage, he tallied six points, six rebounds and three assists in his first action in front of the Cavalier faithful.

Virginia fans could get their first look at Key in real game action when Virginia takes on Towson on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in its season opener at John Paul Jones Arena.