Keith Wooden Riding High spoke with 2003 basketball recruit Keith Wooden recently about a number of topics including his status with regard to initial eligibility, and being named a McDonald's All-American finalist.

Just last week, Rob Evans paid a visit to Kansas on a recruiting visit to the region and stopped by the home of Keith Wooden, one of his star recruits from the 2003 class that signed in November. Of the visit Wooden says, "He actually ate dinner with us at the house and we talked a lot about this year's team and next year too. It was very nice."

Wooden and his family have been very excited about the relative success of the Sun Devils this season, having seen the team play a few times on television, and that fact wasn't lost in the visit. Speaking of Evans, Wooden said, "He said he'd take the guys he has and feel fine going up against any team in the country. I liked that."

The leading candidate for state Player of the Year honors in Kansas also had something to say about Sun Devil star freshman Ike Diogu. "He has a real chance at getting both the Player of the Year award and the freshman of the Year award in the conference. That's pretty special. I think we'll really compliment each other next year."

Speaking of next year, Sun Devil fans will be pleased to know that Wooden, once considered by some a long shot to fully qualify academically is now on the road to doing just that. "They (advisors) told me I don't even need to take the ACT again." Wooden received a 20 on the test late last year and if he obtains passing grades in his 5 remaining classes that begin next week, he will almost certainly get a stamp of approval from the NCAA clearinghouse upon graduation. With Wooden's impending qualification, all of the members of the strong 2003 ASU class should be ready to go immediately next season.

DevilsDigest also took the time to congratulate Wooden on his recently being named as one of the McDonald's 100 finalists, about a quarter of which will appear in the McDonald's All-American game later this spring. "It's a tremendous honor, something I really hoped to achieve, so we'll see what happens."

Wooden's high school season started off well, as the team opened 6-1 before falling to the #1 ranked team in the state. From then on the team was somewhat up and down, in part due to some minor nagging health problems. "I was averaging around 20 (points) and 7 (rebounds) until I started having problems with fluid on my knee. I've had it drained a couple times. It feels a lot better now, and I'm taking anti-inflammatory medication too so that's helped." The team has several regular season games remaining, before the start of playoffs.

After the season ends, Wooden plans on finishing up strong in the classroom and then moving to Arizona State for the first summer session. "Yeah, I'll be out for the first session." Good news indeed for Sun Devils hoping to get an early glimpse of the next big man on campus in Tempe.

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