Maine Star Heading West
Keegan Hyland never made any secret of the fact that he wanted to go to the highest level.
On Tuesday, that goal was accomplished as he made a verbal commitment to attend Gonzaga University next year.
“Ever since I started working on my game a lot that has been my goal, to play at the highest level,” Hyland told the New England Recruiting Report, “and this is about as high as it gets really.”
Hyland is a self made player in every sense of the phrase. Known as one of New England’s top shooters, his stroke is the result of long hours in the gym, often time before the sun came up.
It was a few years ago that word began to spread of an intriguing young talent in the state of Maine who was getting up at 5am several days a week to make a few hundred jump shots.
Looking back, Hyland says that he benefited both from all of the support he received, but also from all of his doubters. He credits people like his parents and coaches Phil Conley and Carl Parker for giving him “tremendous support”, but also says it was all the others who doubted him who really pushed him to go the extra mile.
“I’ve always had to fight through the challenge of people doubting me,” Hyland said. “I think I’ve always kind of been underestimated and that’s always kept me motivated.”
And now that Hyland is skipping his intended post-graduate year at Brewster Academy and moving onto a basketball program as prestigious as Gonzaga’s, he knows the doubters will be back out in full force. Especially since Gonzaga offered him a scholarship without ever seeing him play in a competitive game.
Doesn’t matter says Hyland. His coaches believe in him and most importantly, he believes in himself.
“They have confidence that I can play at that level. I believe I can play at that level. I’ve always thought I could play at that level.”
This process started last month when Gonzaga first expressed interest. Hyland, who missed all but two games of his senior season at South Portland High School, sent out a couple of game tapes in response to the inquiry. Gonzaga’s coaches liked what they saw and sent assistant coach Ray Giacoletti out to Maine to watch Hyland go through an individual work out earlier this month. When Giacoletti was again impressed he offered Hyland a chance to take an official visit to Gonzaga’s campus, but said only head coach Mark Few could officially offer him a scholarship.
He visited the campus on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. Following the visit, Coach Few extended the scholarship offer that Hyland had spent all those early mornings working for, but he resisted the temptation to immediately say yes.
“I came home and thought about it for a few days and decided that was the place for me. It was a really good fit I thought.”
Hyland becomes the second player from the state of Maine to head to the high major level in the last two years, joining Thomas Knight at Notre Dame.
But instead of celebrating his accomplishment Hyland has already moved onto the next challenge of proving his newest set of doubters wrong.
“Coach Few said they need someone who can knock down shots off kick outs or screens. He said he really needs me to be the guy who comes off the bench and hustles and never gives up,” Hyland said. “He said if I can fill both of those roles, knock down shsots and outwork everyone, then I’ll have a role on the team next year. There’s a lot of work to come, especially defensively, but I’m confident I can do it.”
And with that one goal has been accomplished and another has been set.