Marcus Keene signs free agent deal with Washington

Zach Libby , Chippewa Country Contributor
Chippewa Country

Marcus Keene will be remembered during his time at Central Michigan as the 5-foot-9 scoring aficionado who had the entire nation locking its eyes on the mid-major program last year.

He'll also be known as the 22-year-old who never stopped smiling on-and-off the court, and when it was announced that the Washington Wizards added the point guard to its Summer League roster, his grin wasn't hiding from anyone.

The news was first reported by Chris Haynes of ESPN, following the conclusion of the 2017 NBA Draft.

It would have almost come as a shock if Keene had ultimately been drafted, which can be said for his former teammate Braylon Rayson as well. The pair who once formed CMU's backcourt were predicted to be shipped overseas or be added to the clog that is the newly formed NBA Gatorade League.

Still, after bringing in Keene for a workout this offseason, it says something about the potential the Wizards have in him. If anything, Keene will have the opportunity to learn under John Wall and Bradley Beal and take those lessons wherever he lands.

Keene had pre-draft workouts with the Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets and the Detroit Pistons twice. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago back in May.

Kene finished last season as the first ever college basketball player to average 30 points a game since 1996-97. Currently signed to Impact Sports Inc, a sports agency and management firm, he's the first ever CMU player to lead the nation in scoring.

What stands in the way of Keene having a successful career in the NBA is his height, age and leaving the Chippewas prematurely. Of all the players right now measuring under six feet, it's difficult naming someone successful other than Isaiah Thomas of the Celtics.

And it took the All-NBA recipient five years before playing in his first All-Star game in 2016.

Most will say that Keene should have remained in Mount Pleasant for his final year of eligibility, including Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, who wrote that preseason All-American "was not out of the question" for him with more recognition expected to come.

Central Michigan has sent eight players to the NBA, with Chris Kaman being the most recent from 2004-16. The chance to burst onto the national scene one again is there for Keene, but the road getting there will have more bumps.

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