Dewitt On Track To Be Huge Success Story

Keith Dewitt isn't your average recruit. With no prior history of academic or basketball success on his resume, the Charis Prep 20-year old is figuring out hoops and life according to his coach.

One of the top frontcourt prospects in the country didn't play a lick of AAU ball this summer. However, three programs – Marquette, Florida State and LaSalle – kept their head coaches in Wilson, N.C., three days in a row this summer to watch him.

Why? Who could be good enough that major college head coaches would leave a big time AAU event to watch a kid workout in a tiny N.C. town?

His name is Keith Dewitt and he's a 6-foot-9 power forward from High Point, N.C., who currently attends Charis Prep. Get this: he's 20 years old and he's married.

"This guy has taught me something," Charis Prep head coach Carlos Peralta said. "What its taught me is that if you can get a guy off the streets and focus him and channel him the right way, it's not bad to be from the streets. He's tough and he's very focused and that's a good thing."

Dewitt is a year away from being able to play college basketball but he's already a major league success story. Know this: Dewitt is a major college basketball player. The line between success and the streets often times is a thin one but this young man is going to make it. He's got too because he's got someone (besides his wife) who is walking with him every step of the way.

"His mom unraveled and he got caught in that downward spiral and had no one to turn to," Peralta said. "He had no one to turn to."

Enter the Charis Prep coach. Peralta's had hard luck cases before. Jimmy Graham, a member of the Miami Hurricanes, is one of his success stories. Dewitt is going to be the next.

"I thought Jimmy Graham was pretty amazing in what he overcame but this is going to be more amazing. I think Keith has the kind of game and focus to play at a higher level.

"He's very humble. I don't think of him being that old. He's very eager to learn and he's got a lot to learn. He doesn't come across as someone who has it all figured out."

On the basketball court, Dewitt has the eye of numerous high-major programs. Marquette, Cincinnati, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Miami, Florida State, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and LaSalle have all offered.

The program that lands Dewitt is going to have to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Dewitt's decision and the relationships he builds through the process, has to transcend basketball. Peralta's been an enormously positive influence on his life. His next coach must occupy the same kind of role.

"Some of them have it figured out," Peralta said. "Some of them are trying to get a good player and that's as far as they can see. Others are a little more in tune with how amazing this is. Ultimately they all want him because he can play but some of them are drawn in by the human aspect of all this and some of them aren't.

"I guess that will determine where he goes to be honest with you. He's pretty perceptive. It's going to come down to the human touch with him more than a normal situation."

Normal isn't Dewitt's route to college. As far as anyone can tell, he played a grand total of one year of high school ball before arriving at Charis Prep. He came to school, some might say, with little chance of succeeding. The odds were against him.

"He's a bright kid, very intuitive. The shame of it, as often happens, somebody early on just tagged this kid as someone who would never amount to anything. The race for us is to pour some foundational stuff that he didn't get."

Most of the negative influences back in High Point are being weeded out. There's one relationship that carried over to Charis and that's with his wife. Married in May, Peralta wasn't sure at first what to make of the marriage.

"Same girl, she's from High Point. When he first told me about it, he didn't tell me he got married. He asked me what I thought. I appreciated that. He's had no one to depend on. At first, I advised him against it. Part of that was selfish. I didn't need to worry about that stuff but the Lord changed my mind and it's a good thing. She's a good girl and she's had a year or two of college and she's got a nursing job. It puts Keith's focus even more on his own life and his own race to run."

The next mile marker in the race appears to be picking a college but there are obstacles. Dewitt hasn't taken the standardized test, a key element in making a decision and being able to take official visits. He's working on the "foundation" and isn't going to take the SAT until late fall, early winter. Any visit he takes until then will have to be unofficial. Regardless, expect heavy traffic headed to Goldsboro to see him this fall.

As much pressure as there is on Dewitt to succeed, Peralta has big shoulders. He's more than up for the challenge of making sure Dewitt uses basketball to better his life.

"I'm just a human being, I don't want to let you down."

So far, so good.

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