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How does UVA basketball’s Jordan Minor fit at the ACC level?

Diving into how the Merrimack transfer will contribute for the Wahoos this year.

Photo courtesy of Virginia Athletics

This off-season, Virginia Cavaliers Head Coach Tony Bennett addressed some of the significant front court losses by diving into the transfer portal. He proceeded to add Merrimack superstar, Jordan Minor.

It needs to be emphasized that, although Minor is coming off of a dominant two-way season, earning the conference’s Co-Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, the NEC is clearly the lowest performing D1 conference. Therefore, it is important to provide context when diving into what he has done in the past.

What kind of player was Minor at Merrimack?

Last year, Merrimack won the NEC at 18-16 (12-4). His opening game was a blowout loss to St. John’s where Minor recorded 19 points (7-11 FG) and 7 rebounds in 31 minutes. Then, he got injured and a six game losing streak ensued. Minor returned to the Warriors lineup in December, and finished the year averaging 17.8 points, 9.5 boards, and 2.3 blocks per game.

Offensively, Merrimack functioned in a four out offense with Minor typically in the interior. He was a dominant force in the paint, recording nearly 90% of his field goals around the rim, with an average of 3.3 offensive rebounds per game. This bodes even more impressive considering the Warriors ranked 198th in Shot Quality’s spacing metric, which is quite poor considering their scheme. Minor often was draped with defenders, but was significantly stronger and more skilled than his competition.

The defensive end is where he made his greatest living, however. Merrimack played in a 2-3 zone and Minor operated as pure paint protector in the middle. This was a defense that was extremely effective, largely thanks to him. Minor led the conference with a block rate of 8.3%. For context, a big man with a block rate of over 5% was a rare feat in the NEC. The Warriors finished in the top 75 in Torvik’s opponent adjusted efficiency rating, and 1st in turnover rate.

Which traits can translate to the ACC?

Whereas Minor was athletically dominant in the NEC, the power conference level will be a significant jump. He can still be average to above average in this attribute, and this seems to be necessary considering his smaller height for an ACC forward at 6’8”.

With the ball in his hands, Minor may be somewhat limited. He is not much of an outside shooter, converting on only one three-pointer last season, and does not have a Jayden Gardner-like midrange. Conversely, while Minor is crafty in the post, that will not be a constant means of scoring production, especially in Virginia’s offense.

In the ACC, Minor’s most likely role will be as a finisher. He was great at cleaning up misses at Merrimack, and a Reece Beekman/Dante Harris-led offense should allow for plenty of drop-off pass opportunities, leading to easy dunks. He is also extremely effective in the pick and roll game. In that respect, Minor has more upside as a small-ball five than Gardner had.

Still, Minor could very easily become a defensive specialist. He certainly has the skillset to adjust from the Merrimack 2-3 zone to the Virginia Pack Line and guard stretch bigs; it is simply a matter of learning the scheme. Then again, this is the same case for the other potential starting true freshman, Blake Buchanan.

Lastly, keep in mind that the ability to run the floor showed up all over Minor’s film. He was often seen starting a possession with forcing a turnover and finishing the play as a trailer. The fast break is something that is sparingly used by Bennett teams but not long ago, it was completely ignored. With Beekman and Ryan Dunn on the court, look for the ‘Hoos to occasionally push the pace. (Again, this is all relative.)

The Final Verdict

All in all, I see Minor best as a small ball five, rotating with Buchanan. He will certainly see time at the power forward spot but I fear for a stagnant offense in those scenarios.

I predict Minor to start the season opener against Tarleton State, as a safer pick against that level of competition. However, Bennett has already mentioned his potential plan to mix and match starting lineups based on the level of competition. With that being said, do not be surprised to see Buchanan start in his spot against Florida later that week.