Christian Keeling joins Augusta University's Keshun Sherrill and Clemson's Aliyah
Collier as the first three of seven "first ballot" members of the All AugBball Team.
As soon as I first saw Christian Keeling playing summer league ball with Laney right before his freshman year, I believed he was a player. At the time he was not a long range shooter, and he certainly was not the explosive attacker of the rim he has become. But his spirit, competitiveness, and willingness to put himself in a position where he may fail are what made me an early believer. After seeing him sparingly the following couple years in an MLK Day game here, and a summer league game there, I continued to believe in him. But like I described in a post last winter regarding then senior Butler dynamo Don Coleman, I have come to realize I underestimated Christian.
|Christian Keeling signs his national letter|
of intent Thursday at 1:30 P.M. at the
Last January, I began to realize just how good he is. After a solid November and December, Keeling, then a junior, reached another gear. He was a key factor in wins against the eventual state champion, Jenkins, and against region 3A foes Washington County and Butler.
In a post following Laney's January 9 win over Butler, I nicknamed Keeling "Mr. January." But it was in the Wildcats' January 17 home win over arch rival Josey where Christian earned the name. In fact, after he uncorked two dunks, the first through a defender and the second over one, I'll say he owned the name.
Since that day, I've seen a new Christian Keeling. Or maybe I've just come to know him better. During the remainder of the high school season and through the Spring and Summer AAU circuit, I watched him grow more confident and focused. And like he told me when he decided to stay at Laney for his senior year, he is determined to bring a state title home during this final season.