PROSPECT — Western Kentucky redshirt-junior basketball player Jabari McGhee will take a medical exemption from the school this season, WKU coach Rick Stansbury said Monday.
McGhee's decision is similar to the path former Hilltoppers Nathan Smith and Phabian Glasco took going into the 2016-17 season. McGhee can still receive financial aid from WKU and use team facilities, but is no longer an active member of the program.
Stansbury also said Monday that nearly all his newcomers have now arrived on campus with the exception of Josh Anderson (a freshman from Baton Rouge, La. and junior college transfer Jordan Brangers – who are still taking summer school classes elsewhere – and Mitchell Robinson. Robinson is trying out for the United States' under-19 national team in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The second year coach has one returning active scholarship player returning in sophomore guard Damari Parris.
"I’ll keep things in perspective. I know what we are, I know who we are," Stansbury said. "We have a 12-man new roster. There’s five of ‘em who are freshmen, there’s one that’s a five-star guy. One guy. We don’t have five or six of ‘em. We don’t have seven or eight of ‘em. We have one guy. That’s it. And 12 new guys. I keep things in perspective.
“They’ll be a learning curve. A big learning curve with this team. But will I like that? Absolutely."
After becoming eligible in December, McGhee averaged 4.7 points and four rebounds in 21 games for Western in 2016-17. He had 13 points and nine rebounds in a win at Florida Atlantic and 14 rebounds in a win against Ohio.
McGhee originally committed to Auburn University as a high school senior in 2013 before enrolling at Hargrave Military Academy. He was named the Albany (Ga.) Herald player of the year after his senior year at Monroe High School, scored more than 1,200 career points and was named all-state after averaging a double-double.
At Hargrave, McGhee averaged 23 points and 15 rebounds per game. He then enrolled at Tennessee where he redshirted in 2014-15 and played in six games in 2015-16.
With McGhee being medically exempt and Justin Johnson moving to a football scholarship in 2017-18, Stansbury now has 13 scholarship players on his current roster.
"I think the obvious thing that everybody sees already is we’re gonna be a whole new team," he said. "Right now there’s one guy back that was on the roster last year. And that’s it. Twelve new guys and there’s gonna be a lot of youth to it. Excited about the new guys. I know they’re gonna be young, but excited about ‘em, the people they are and some of their abilities.”
— Follow WBKO sportswriter Chad Bishop on Twitter @MrChadBishop