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The thoughts of leaving Morgantown first lingered in Jordan McCabe's head one year ago at the end of his shortened sophomore season. His family wanted him to stay and McCabe would follow their advise. "My granddad told me, 'You gave a man your word, so you better stick it out'." The promise Jordan's grandfather was talking about was how McCabe had told coach Bob Huggins from day one that he would play for him until he graduates.
This promise was what made a walk into Coach Huggs office on March 22, 2021, one of the most difficult conversations he's ever been a part of, McCabe admitted to the Dominion Post. It was a Monday morning less than than 24 hours after the Mountaineers had fallen to 11th seeded Syracuse in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. Jordan wouldn't get into the details of their conversation but ultimately he would be entering his name into the transfer portal. A move that the two sides both saw coming but was also bittersweet.
Fast forward a week later and McCabe had found his new destination rather quickly, announcing he will be headed out west to play at UNLV under newly hired head coach Kevin Kruger. He captioned his Instagram post and tweet, "Vegas, let's make some noise."
The Las Vegas lifestyle shouldn't be too concerning for the 22 year old. From Ellen DeGeneres interviews at age 12, to playing with the Harlem Globetrotters, being the face of BallisLife & Overtime and scoring 2,442 points in his high school career, Jordan McCabe has been in the national spotlight for the majority of his life. Wisconsin's 2018 Mr. Basketball was only a 3 star recruit out of high school though and had a limited selection of Power 5 offers, mainly due to his size at 5 foot 11.
His WVU career never turned out how McCabe envisioned, but during his freshman season there seemed to be lots of potential. He played a large role towards the end of that 2018-2019 season including a career performance in a triple OT thriller vs TCU on February 26, 2019 where he dropped 25 points, 11 assists and 6 steals to lead the Mountaineers to victory. McCabe would go onto start 15 of the 35 games his freshman season averaging 5.9 ppg and leading the team with 88 assists on the year.
In his sophomore campaign Jordan would start 29 of 31 games but saw his minutes drastically decrease due to the additions of guards Miles McBride and Sean McNeil. His production also fell, only scoring 3.1 ppg.
Things would continue to go downhill in McCabe's junior season and his role was extremely limited. McCabe only played 10.9 minutes a game, his lowest in his career. He started in just 5 games and scored 2.2 points a game. His playing time in the Mountaineers two March Madness games was almost non existent.
Some basketball fans would say they saw this coming and argue that McCabe was never a Power 5 player. Watching many WVU games over the past three years it just seemed that McCabe lacked confidence on the court especially against Big 12 competition. He wasn't the same player that carried Kaukauna HS on his back to two state titles creating viral mixtapes.
"My junior year was difficult in some ways, " McCabe said. "I always felt like a part of a family here. That part I did not make a mistake about. The atmosphere here and the coaches, I always felt like I belonged to this family. "There is always going to be a competitive side to me, though. I'm a competitor. When the games were being played, it was tough to sit back and not compete. West Virginia was a great fit for me as far as being part of a family, but sometimes the right fit just doesn't always work out."
Ironically both of McCabe's freshman roommates, Trey Doomes and Emmitt Matthews, have both also left the WVU program. Doomes departed to Chattanooga after one year and Matthews announced his decision to leave just days after McCabe did. It will certainly be a new look for the Mountaineers next season as they await to see if Sean McNeil will stay in the NBA Draft and if star Miles McBride will also test the draft waters.
McCabe is still enrolled in classes and will officially become a WVU graduate this May. So therefore he did fulfill his promise to Huggy Bear. He will have two years of eligibility remaining since he graduates a year early, plus the covid option year. I personally would love to see him succeed at UNLV and it's save to say all of Mountaineer Nation will be rooting for him. The WVU coaching staff always had great things to say about his work ethic and character. UNLV will be a much better fit at a smaller school and McCabe should have a chance to make an immediate impact as a starting point guard in the Mountain West Conference.