McKoy cited as Big West Player of the Week

Hawai’i senior forward Justin McKoy earned Big West Player of the Week honors on Monday after scoring 22 points, grabbing nine rebounds, dishing out four assists and blocking three shots in a 94-86 overtime
victory over UC San Diego last Thursday, then notching 17 points and 11 boards in an 87-70 win over UC Davis on Saturday. (Chris Kadooka photo)

Living up to his high-level resume, Justin McKoy elevated his game just when the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team needed it most. For that effort — which helped the Warriors win two key home games — McKoy was named Big West Conference Player of the Week on Monday.

McKoy, a 6-foot-8 forward, scored 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out four assists and blocked three shots in a 94-86 overtime victory over UC San Diego last Thursday, then notched 17 points and 11 boards in an 87-70 win over UC Davis on Saturday.

“It’s a big honor, I just actually found out like 20 minutes ago when Juan (Munoz) ran into my room and told me before we came out to practice,” McKoy said Monday afternoon. “I’m super proud of our team, first of all — two big wins like that … It’s my first conference award like this, at all, after five years. I’m very thankful, very blessed. I’ve stayed faithful, prayed for four years to have this opportunity, to play. God answered my prayers, my teammates have helped me so much.

“I’m super happy, glad for the team (to get) two big wins. We’re ready to keep it going.”

McKoy began his career at Virginia, before transferring to North Carolina and then joining the Warriors last summer as a graduate student.

His performance last week was extremely timely, with senior point guard and tri-captain JoVon McClanahan being declared out for both games after suffering an injured right shoulder during practice last Tuesday.

“His first phase was going from playing a little bit of role-playing minutes (at Virginia and North Carolina), then to being someone we can play off of, then someone who people are scouting hard,” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “And he’s handled those (steps), obviously he’s playing his best basketball now, he’s continued to become a well-rounded player. I wish we had him for (another) year …

“Defensively I thought he was great this (last) week, rebounding he was great this week. And hopefully he continues to carry that development mindset. Such a great kid, love having him here. I wish I could coach him longer, (I) enjoy coaching him as long as I can.”

In addition to the statistics, Ganot said McKoy has also stepped up in the area of intangibles.

“He’s very passionate, he’s had to bring leadership to this program, which is no easy task let alone (in his) first year,” Ganot said. “But he’s done that, he’s one of our vocal guys, clearly (he’s) one of those guys who you can tell loves the game. He’s really immersed himself in Hawai’i, deserves everything that has come his way. And I’m happy for him.”

McKoy, who has had to play a bigger role in the post after backup center Mor Seck was lost for the season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury last month, said he wants to help the team in whatever way it needs him.

“I think the past couple games, my 3-point shot hasn’t been there, but just showing I’m more of a versatile player than that,” McKoy said. “I’m not just a 3-point shooter, I can get inside, get buckets, I can facilitate, get (the ball) to my teammates. And also I think I had a better defensive game against (UC) San Diego, I had three blocks. (Ganot) challenged me to be a better defender, and so that’s something I’ve been trying to be focused on and be better at.

“Hopefully going forward, we can keep this going.”

The Warriors traveled to California on Tuesday for road games at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Thursday and UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.

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