March 24, 2011

Keel has the Chippewas on top

Analyzing the 2010-11 Central Michigan basketball season, one major weakness was the Chippewas ability to hit outside shots, and more specifically, hit from downtown. CMU shot just 32% as a team from beyond the arc and they lose their most reliable three point option in Jalin Thomas. Needless to say, addressing the shooting void is high on the list of head coach Ernie Zeigler and his staff.

But help could be on the way. Guard Brooke Turson redshirted last season after joining CMU late in the recruiting process, and now the Chippewas appear to be in the driver seat for another skilled scorer. Winter Springs (FL) guard Austin Keel will be making his official visit to CMU this weekend and he holds the Chippewas in high regard. With offers from CMU, The Citadel, UNC Greensboro, Wofford and Rhode Island, he has now trimmed his list to three.

"I have offers from Central Michigan, The Citadel and Rhode Island. I've pretty much told everyone else I'm not interested and I'm down to my final three. I already visited The Citadel, I'm visiting CMU this weekend, and then Rhode Island on Monday and Tuesday. I'm just looking for a good relationship with the coaches, facilities, and I think it's important to find the right fit for me not only in basketball, but as a person."

And although he has yet to visit Mount Pleasant, Keel feels he has a leader at this point and may even pull the trigger on his commitment soon.

"I like CMU a lot," added Keel. "I just had a meeting with Coach (Ernie) Zeigler when he came down last week, and I had a chance to meet Coach (Darren) Kohne also. They were both real cool, and I would say there is a good chance I could commit this weekend if everything goes good."

And that's a commitment the Chippewas would be more than happy to take. Keel, who describes himself as a "combo-guard shooter", is averaging 14 points and 5 rebounds for one of the top high school teams in the country. Winter Springs went 28-5 overall and won the Florida 6A state championship for the second consecutive year, and now they have a new challenge ahead of them. Winter Springs will play Brooklyn (NY) Boys and Girls (23-6) in the ESPN Rise National High School Invitation on March 31st. Tipoff is scheduled for 6PM and the game will be aired on ESPNU. The two teams will be playing for the second time this year, as Brooklyn Boys and Girls defeated Winter Park 81-79 in January.

It's not often a high school team gets as much exposure as Winter Park does, but that's what happens when you have success and also happen to have the No. 1 ranked recruit in the nation on the team in Keel's teammate, Austin Rivers.

"When I do put it in perspective, it's like I've worked so hard to get to this point that I feel I've earned everything I have," added Keel on whether it's surreal being where he is at now. "Yeah it helps having a player like Austin Rivers on my team, but I've worked hard to get where I'm at. I just enjoy having fun out there really, and you have to enjoy the moment. You're going out there with your teammates, competing, and having fun."

As previously mentioned, Chippewa fans can see Keel live in exactly one week when Winter Park plays on ESPNU. And with Keel looking to make a decision before that game, Central Michigan fans are holding out hope that they will be watching not only a talented player, but a future Chippewa.

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