Looking at Central Michigan’s Marcus Keene
Marcus Keene is undersized. He is a 5’9” point guard and former zero star rated, #711 nationally ranked high school basketball recruit whose only scholarship offer came from Youngstown State. He is currently a redshirt junior who transferred to Central Michigan last season and had to sit out for the year per NCAA regulations.
Now he is the leading scorer in men’s basketball – and it’s not even close.
Keene scores an astounding 29.7 points per game while the 2nd highest scorer averages almost 5 points below him at 24.9 per game. He also leads the nation in total points (860), shot attempts (621), shots made (280), three-point attempts (301), and three-pointers made (111).
Keene does not let up. He does not wait for the defense to set up, and most of the time he does not wait for his own offense to get comfortable. He is an attack dog in a free-wheeling offense. Keene gets to the hole, pulls up from wherever he pleases, finishes in reverse fashion, embarrasses his defenders and often times winds up on SportCenter’s top 10 plays.
Let’s take a look at some clips from Central Michigan’s first matchup against Green Bay earlier this year, where Keene put on a clinic.
This gem came in the first half with his team trailing by 2. CMU had just gotten its own rebound and Keene decided to isolate his defender just beyond the perimeter. He uses a forceful left to right behind the back dribble to set up his pull-up jumper that comes out just above the defender’s outstretched hand. Keene loves getting his defenders off balance and giving himself ample space to get his shot off. Often times he makes them look foolish.
Here his team is down 4 later in the first half and Keene knows that he has to get to the rack. He uses a nice crossover-hesitation move to force his defender into the pick, and although another defender steps up to deny him entry into the paint, Keene decides to put him in the spin cycle like a young Ty Lawson.
The last play we’ll look at from this game comes towards the end of regulation with the game tied. Keene waltzes up the floor with an arrogant swagger and proceeds to do exactly what his defender is anticipating, drain a bouncy pull-up three to take the lead. Keene proves over and over again that hands in his face can not disrupt his shot. The only thing he sees is the ball going through the net. Central Michigan later went on to win the game and Keene finished with 31 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds while playing 40 minutes.
Keene is a rare scoring specimen in college basketball at under six feet tall, playing in a small conference for an under-the-radar team, and he was almost invisible prior to this year. Nobody could have seen him coming. He has a napoleon complex to the millionth degree and seeks to embarrass opposing players who doubt him even in the slightest.
His teammate and CMU’s #3 all-time leading scorer Braylon Rayson also stands at 5’9” and plays Robin to Keene’s Batman. Rayson averages just over 20 points per game and together they combine for almost 50 points per game. The pair grew up squaring off against each other in Texas AAU ball and jumped at the chance to team up this season at Central Michigan after Keene decided to leave Youngstown State, where his career didn’t take off in the way he had hoped.
Dubbed “The Texas Two-Step” by the Chippewa fans, Keene and Rayson put on a show each time they take the floor and refuse to let their size affect their ability to dominate other teams. On December 6th they played Green Bay for the 2nd time and combined for 70 points with Keene scoring 40 and Rayson putting up 30. They did it again on February 18th at Ball State, this time scoring 74 combined points with Keene again scoring 40 and Rayson adding 34. Fans on twitter even started referring to the team as #3MU due to the fact that the mighty mouse backcourt takes 18 three point attempts combined per game. Then on February 14th against Buffalo Keene broke CMU’s single season scoring record (759) set by the former 3x NBA All-star Dan Majerle in 1987-88. This is clearly an unusual partnership that promises to fully entertain anyone who takes the time to watch it.
So let’s take a look.
This was Keene’s best scoring game of the season so far where he dropped 50 points on Miami of Ohio on January 21st. Here he brings the ball up early in the game, cocky as ever and rips the ball from right to left into a silky pull-up jumper. A college basketball player has no business taking this shot so early in the game unless you’re Marcus Keene. He takes so many of these so-called “dumb shots” but hits them with unbelievable consistency. It’s an approach that his coach has had to forgive and often encourage in order to drive his team to victory.
Next, we see Keene obviously feeling it, and the defense is aware of the magnitude of his force. He gets into the paint and draws multiple defenders as he throws an unorthodox bounce pass to a waiting Braylon Rayson who converts the triple. At some point in the game every opposing team comes to the scary realization that they can only guard one of these munchkins effectively at a time, and when they are on the same page they are simply unstoppable.
This is vintage Marcus Keene right here. With his team leading by one point, he identifies the weak link in the defense (who happens to be guarding him) and attacks. Once he gets to the 2nd level he makes a lightning fast adjustment and finishes in a stunning acrobatic fashion. Plays like this are the reason why you should want to see him against real competition in March Madness.
Rayson gets out in transition here and gets into the paint while bringing 3 defenders with him. Somehow they forget about the nation’s leading scorer and Keene moves in for the kill. Rayson finds him with an odd pass and Keene nails the triple. Plays like this are unscripted, wild and practically unguardable because of both players’ athleticism, creativity, and synergy. It also helps that Keene has seemingly unlimited range.
Marcus Keene is a mean player. He clearly does not care about his opponent’s ego. This shot is a direct attack on the laughable mismatch he receives from the opposition. His team is up 11 points with 2 minutes left in the game and he rips their hearts out. This is why he is such a ruthless and entertaining player.
We’ll end with one last bonus clip which has simply been called “the cockiest shot of the season”
This player from nowhere has made some serious noise this season. He is simply pissed off about being overlooked for too long and wants the world to know it. He takes too many shots, shows up his opponents and tests the boundaries of being a pure scorer in college basketball. This is Marcus Keene.