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TJ McConnell’s decision down to Virginia and Arizona

T.J. McConnell, J.J. Moore

Duquesne’s T.J. McConnell (20) goes in for a layup past Pittsburgh’s J.J. Moore (44) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won 80-69. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


At this point, it is confirmed that TJ McConnell will be finishing out his collegiate career in a power conference. It’s unclear, however, which side of the country McConnell will be playing on, as the Duquesne transfer has narrowed his decision down to Virginia and Arizona.

“There were other schools, but to be honest it’s between Virginia and Arizona,” TJ’s father Tim McConnell told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He didn’t get to do this in high school because he committed so early. He really enjoyed his visit [to Virginia] and wants to go to Arizona to just compare and see what’s best for him.”

McConnell is a Pittsburgh native and committed to Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart as a 5'5" freshman point guard. (I wrote a story on McConnell last year, and the best anecdote was that he was noticed as a freshman because he hit three 3-pointers in a row and then stole the ball from former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.)

The McConnells are basketball royalty in Pittsburgh. Tim is a legendary head coach, and a myriad of TJ’s aunts and extended family members are, or have been, a professional player or a collegiate coach. Sean Miller is from the area and played his college ball at Pitt. He’s known the family for quite some time. While that may appear to put Arizona in the lead, McConnell’s ability to defend and control the game from the point guard spot would make him a great fit in Tony Bennett’s system. For a guy that originally committed to play in his hometown, don’t underestimate the value of being able to hop in a car and make the six hour drive from Charlottesville back home.

TJ visited Virginia last week. He’ll head to Arizona next Thursday and make his decision a week from today.

Regardless of where TJ ends up, he will be an impact player.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.