Colleges Make Dewitt a Priority

Wilson (NC) Charis Prep head coach Carlos Peralta has built a successful program through hard work and developing his players.

Wilson (NC) Charis Prep head coach Carlos Peralta has built a successful program through hard work and developing his players. Last year, his team finished 43-3 to capture the prep school national championship and a big factor in their success was the play of rising senior Keith Dewitt.

"Keith did very well for us," said coach Peralta. "First of all, he has a lot of skills. He just needed to learn how to use them by playing more basketball and working within a team concept. We had to learn to use him because he's skilled away from the basket. We just had to teach him how to play team ball and learn what to do in certain situations."

Checking in at 6-foot-10 and 215 pounds, Dewitt averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists for Charis Prep. A combo forward with playmaking skills, he's likely slated to play the power forward spot on the college level. He had the opportunity to play on the AAU circuit, but Dewitt and Peralta weren't interested in that. He's working out everyday at Charis while he continues to focus on his academics. The structured environment has been a positive influence on Dewitt.

"I think it's been good for him," said coach Peralta. "He's not doing the AAU deal... he doesn't need the exposure. He's doing well in the classroom and we anticipate that he won't have any problems with qualification. He's on the right track and is really turning his life around in a positive way. I'm really proud of him."

Dewitt has traveled a long road. Originally hailing from High Point, North Carolina, he played just one year of high school ball, the 2003-2004 season as a sophomore at High Point Andrews. Personal problems derailed his high school career, and the lack of a positive influence in his personal life played a major factor. He reached out for help from Peralta and is now on the right track with a chance to attend college right in front of him.

"Like I said, I'm really proud of Keith," said coach Peralta. "A lot of the things he went through was because he didn't have a typical home life. It's something you don't want to talk about, but he really came from a tough family background. He came here with a lot of rough edges, but he wanted to improve on his life and that is what matters.

"We're a Christian school... we work on certainly more than just basketball. We work on academics and maintaining a spiritual life. He embraced that. He's really grown as a person, and he's learned a lot about life. It's almost something you can see happen before your eyes everyday."

Now a member of the 2009 class, Dewitt is emerging as a hot commodity. Coach Peralta claims that offers are on the table from Missouri, Marquette, LaSalle, Cincinnati, Florida State, Miami, Nebraska, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, and NC State. College coaches have been coming by to evaluate players during workouts and right away they are intrigued by Dewitt.

"They all ask who he is," said Peralta. "He certainly jumps out at you. They talk about how he's a missing piece for them in the 2009 class."

In the spring, Dewitt actually gave a verbal commitment to West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins, but he has since backed off that commitment and re-opened his recruitment.

"It's not a knock on West Virginia and they are still under consideration," said coach Peralta. "I think Keith's decision to evaluate the process shows the maturity he has made as a person. Originally, coach Huggins came in and offered and the idea of playing for a coach like Bob Huggins stuck out to Keith. However, he had never even been to their campus or spent time with their players and Keith wants to make sure that the school he picks is the best fit for him.

"He backed off the commitment and they understand. He told me that he still wants to be recruited by them and he'll visit their campus before making any decision."

Another school expected to be a factor is Miami. The Hurricanes landed power forward Jimmy Graham from Charis Prep a few years ago, and coach Peralta is very familiar with head coach Frank Haith and his staff.

"I have a good relationship with coach Haith and those guys," said coach Peralta. "They've been in here before on our players. It's a place I think Keith would do well, but ultimately it's going to be his decision."

NC State is also in the mix. Assistant Pete Strickland visited on Monday and head coach Sidney Lowe was expected to check in on Tuesday. Being a North Carolina product, Dewitt is very familiar with the NC State program.

"I really like them and Keith does as well," coach Peralta stated. "It's probably the school that, for Keith, has the biggest name recognition. He's certainly aware of coaches like Bob Huggins, but growing up in North Carolina you know about NC State, Duke, North Carolina, and Wake Forest. That is certainly a good program and they are right there.

"Coach Strickland has been by, and coach Lowe is coming [by on Tuesday]. They are recruiting him hard like all the others."

Don't expect a quick decision from Dewitt. He's going to take his visits and make an informed decision, likely sometime next year. There aren't any favorites and relationships will play a factor in his decision.

"He doesn't really have a favorite at this point," said Peralta. "He's looking for someone that he can trust. He's never really been able to look up to anybody and say this is how you do things... that is what he's looking for. He's looking for someone he can transfer his allegiance to and trust as a man. He's developing a feel for the college coaches, and he'll go from there.

"I don't expect him to make a decision before the spring and after he takes some visits. You've got to think it through and see what is the best fit. He's the one going, and he's the one that has to have that gut feeling about where he's going. Before it's all said and done, I would not suggest or recommend him pick a college without going to visit first."

As for his 2008-2009 team, coach Peralta is looking forward to the challenge of coaching a team comprised of new players with different personalities and agendas.

"I'm excited," he said. "Certainly it helps to have Keith coming back, but we've got some good players coming in. We look forward to another good year.

"The trick is always to blend a bunch of individuals into a team that can accomplish team goals. There are a bunch of individuals who, to be blunt about it, are here for selfish reasons.... looking to earn a scholarship. We've got to blend those guys into a cohesive unit, and it's a challenge I'm always excited about."

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