Devils Eyeing Top West Coast Prospect

First things first. The word on the street is wrong. James Keefe is not Adam Keefe's little brother. He's not his cousin and he's not his nephew.

In fact -- there's no relation to the former Stanford big man/volleyball ace at all.

"I don't know where that came from to be honest. We had seen that on the Internet somewhere a few times." said Jim Keefe, James' father. "In fact, he hates volleyball," he laughed.

But whether or not he's related to Adam shouldn't do anything to hurt the reputation that the 6-9, 205 pound PF is building on the west coast. The rising junior at Santa Margarita Catholic (Calif.) is already being tabbed as an elite high major by several college coaches and recruiting writers.

Respected west coast prep writer/ analyst Frank Burlison, is a big fan.

"He's the No. 1 prospect among all Southern California juniors, sophomores and freshmen right now," said Burlison. And, in 2006, he could end up being a consensus choice as the No. 2 prospect in the country, behind 6-11 Greg Oden (Indianapolis Lawrence North), who is already being projected by NBA personnel evaluating-types as the top pick in the 2006 draft."

Strong words.

His father, who coached him throughout middle school and up until two years ago, offers his analysis as well.

"James has a really good all around game. He's got skills like a 3, but the size of a 4. Good moves inside and he's VERY athletic," he said.

"He can chew gum and play basketball at the same time," he added, referring to his coordination. "He shoots the 15 footer well and can also step out and shoot the three. I think that the reason a lot of these college coaches like him is that he always hustles. He's real tenacious inside."

College coaches are already tenacious on his trail too.

He's got firm offers from UCLA, California and Arizona, according to his father, and he's receiving heavy interest from Notre Dame, Stanford and most everyone in the Pac 10 as well.

And then there's the ACC schools.

""Duke has shown a bit of interest," added James Keefe. "And rumor has it that North Carolina is interested. It's my understanding that Coach K has seen him in person and is interested. We're getting a good amount of mail (from both of them) as well."

Roy Williams spent some time watching Keefe at the Las Vegas Showcase in April.

"He actually grew up a fan of the east coast schools like Duke and North Carolina," he said. "Those schools are just great basketball programs and they have outstanding academics. Both schools always have powerhouse teams and you just can't go wrong with the education that you'd get at North Carolina or Duke."

We asked Jim how he handle the decision if his son chose to go away for college.

"It's completely up to him," he replied. "I have no problem with it because he's a boy. When you're talking about a girl -- you don't want her to go away to school, but he's a boy, and sometimes they just want to get as far away as they can go."

Don't expect young Keefe to make any drastic decisions anytime soon. He's in no rush to decide his collegiate destination. His father estimates that his son could make a decision by the end of his junior year at the earliest so that he can concentrate on having a good summer.

"He's open to anyone right now," he added.

Keefe traveled to the east coast recently where he played for the California Elite AAU squad, sponsored by Nike. And the sophomore certainly turned some heads with his awareness, athleticism and size. His body is very well developed for a 16 year old and he's a tough rebounder who has fantastic feet and ability to handle the ball.

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