It has been 40 years.
It doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true.
That’s how long it has been since a West Virginia boys high school basketball star committed to the University of Virginia.
It has been a very lengthy time span, but the drought finally came to an end Saturday afternoon when Poca High School star junior guard Isaac McKneely announced he is committing to the Cavaliers.
The Class of 2022 four-star combo guard reduced his list of prospective schools to a final eight, choosing Virginia over offers from West Virginia, Louisville, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Kentucky and North Carolina.
The Cavaliers were believed to be the leaders all along and it came to fruition at 2 p.m. Saturday when the 6-foot-4, 180-pound McKneely released a video on Twitter.
“I got so much love and support from my community,” said McKneely in the video. “During my journey, I’ve had several coaches and mentors who shaped me who I am as a person and a player.
“Most importantly, I want to thank God for being with me through this process and blessing me with the ability to play the game I love. I want to thank [Poca] Coach [Allen] Osborne and Coach [Christian] Kezmarsky [who runs a basketball developmental program in Pittsburgh], who have been with me every step of the way. And I consider them as my family. Also, thank you to the Wildcats organization [AAU] for giving me the exposure that I needed.
“Finally, I would like to thank my parents. They sacrificed a lot to get me here. And my brother who has pushed and supported me all the while. I have been recruited by many great schools. I am so thankful for the opportunity.
“But in the end, I can only choose one. With that being said, I’m excited to announce that I have officially committed to the University of Virginia.”
The timing of the announcement made it somewhat doubtful that WVU was going to be his choice. After all, McKneely’s announcement was timed at 2 p.m., which was also the exact time the Mountaineers’ game against Florida was tipping off at the WVU Coliseum.
McKneely, who is ranked No. 51 nationally by 247 Sports’ composite rankings, averaged 22 points and shot 45% on 3-pointers during the 2019-20 season. His junior season is due to begin in March.
And as luck would have it, Poca’s Osborne runs the same offense as Virginia head coach Tony Bennett.
As for the Mountain State footsteps in which McKneely is following … well, I suppose I have kept everyone in suspense long enough.
They belong to former Princeton High School star Jimmy Miller. The 6-8 Miller was the 1981 West Virginia High School Basketball Player of the Year. Miller joined then-coach Terry Holland at Virginia.
As a senior, Miller led the Wahoos to the 1984 Final Four, after being named the NCAA East Regional tournament’s Most Valuable Player. A photograph of Miller cutting down the net after the regional victory is very well known.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this West Virginia connection at UVA is the fact that McKneely and Miller will be together. Besides running his business — Miller Financial Group — Miller is also the color analyst on the Virginia Radio Network.
So, in a couple of years, Miller will be calling McKneely’s name during games. And guess what? He can’t wait.
“I was so excited to see this news come out today,” said Miller. “I’ve watched him from afar. An impressive young man who is well grounded. Aside from that, very talented, too. He will be a great fit at Virginia and I can’t wait to welcome him.”
What delicious symmetry.
As it should be.
After all, it was 40 years in the making.