Keith Wooden Verbals To ASU

Snatching a blue chip recruit thousands of miles away is always a lofty accomplishment. Thus, the verbal commitment of Keith Wooden is truly remarkable, since he hails from Lawrence, Kansas home of the Kansas Jayhawks, one of the nation's elite College Basketball teams. It was ASU's Coach Evans' personality, along with a successful official visit that sealed the deal for the Sun Devils' second verbal commitment.

The Free State High School standout player verbally committed to Arizona State on Sunday night, just a little over a week after Sun Devil Head Coach Rob Evans and Assistant Russ Pennell were in his hometown for a visit. "Coach Pennell had tried to call me a couple times (over the weekend) but I was gone. Then he called and I was actually on the other line, and my Mom said I could do it, so I told him that I wanted to go."

Wooden was happy to have his mother be able to meet the coaches for the first time and she came away from the experience equally pleased. "My mom really liked Coach Evans and Coach Pennell," said Wooden. That was an important factor considering the fact that several weeks ago after his official visit to ASU, Wooden suggested that all that was left was for his mother to give a seal of approval. "She wanted me to go out (to Tempe) and check it out and then she also wanted to meet them (the coaches) for herself."

The 6'9 220 pound player visited the Tempe campus, with Justin Allen acting as his host during the trip. He came away overjoyed with the entire experience, saying, "As soon as I got there I just fell in love with it. It's like in the 70's or 80's even in winter time and you can just wear shorts year-round." The new athletic and training facilities were not lost on Wooden, who commented, "The weight room was just amazing."

Wooden also had the opportunity to play in a pickup game with the current Sun Devils, and enjoy one of the Evans' famous BBQs that have become such an integral part of the Arizona State basketball community. The family atmosphere was extremely important to his mother and stepfather and one of the things that eventually sold them was a local news piece on the important role that Coach Evans' wife Carolyn has in the program. "My mom didn't get a chance to see it, but my step-dad did and he told my mom about it and she was real pleased."

Wooden will turn 17 on Sept 29th, and has been told by doctors that he could grow to be as tall as 6'10 or perhaps 6'11. That would put him in the same range as his favorite NBA player, Rasheed Wallace, a player he admires for his skill level, and not for his on-court antics. "I like to do a lot of the things that he can do," says Wooden, who does not want to pigeonhole himself into a single role or position. "I like to face up my defender off the dribble, since I'm usually quicker, and then either shoot the jumper or take him to the basket."

Wooden hasn't had the opportunity to meet Tron Smith, Arizona State's other verbal commit for the 2003 class, but he has heard a great deal about his future teammate. "No I haven't (met him), I've heard a lot about him though. I've heard he's real athletic and talented from a friend who saw in at the ABCD camp. It's going to be fun playing with him."

Wooden is scheduled to take the ACT in October and is working hard on satisfying his core requirement in the classroom in order to become a full qualifier. The ASU coaches even sat down with his guidance counselor to make sure that he's on the right track academically and the progress report he received just today (Monday) has him on track for a GPA of 3.0 for the term.

An official visit scheduled with Indiana for next month will now be canceled and Wooden will not take any more trips or entertain offers from the other schools vying for his services. With the recruiting process now over with, Wooden plans on spending more time in the gym and in the weight room getting ready for the next level. He says he want to get "a lot" stronger and also work on his ball skills so that he's ready to contribute upon his arrival in Tempe.

With this commitment the Sun Devils now have as many as three remaining scholarships offers to be filled in the 2003 recruiting class.

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