Keith DeWitt is certainly making the most of his final year of college basketball. The USI center was named GLVC Player of the Week for the second time after another amazing performance in two games last week. For the record, the 6-10 senior center totaled 14 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots while sinking six of 11 shots in the 25-point victory at then-No. 12 Indianapolis. Then he put up 27 points, 12 rebounds and four assists while going 11-for-19 from the field in the win at Saint Joseph’s. He now has seven double-doubles in points and rebounds this season, five in his last six games. For the season he’s averaging 13.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 blocks per game, numbers that seem puny compared to what he’s been doing lately but can be traced to the time he lost recovering from the knee surgery he underwent shortly after the season began.
That makes this an even more remarkable story. Despite what he went through, DeWitt is averaging 31.2 minutes per game — the most on the team. He missed three weeks following his knee surgery and still the next closest teammate in average minutes played is point guard Lawrence Thomas, at 29.3. Of course, DeWitt wouldn’t be playing that much if Aaron Nelson hadn’t been sidelined for the rest of the season with his own, more serious knee injury. Now DeWitt has to play because there’s nobody else on the team remotely like him.
Not sure how long this can last. I’m not just talking about the scoring; I’m talking also about the playing time. Maybe he won’t wear down. Maybe this amazing performance has more to do with DeWitt’s will, his all-consuming desire to finish his college career with a championship. He’s talked about that since the first day he got to USI. But so does just about every player who comes to a new team. This time this guy really means it.
The source of his drive seems obvious. Remember, he sat out a year after leaving the University of Southern Mississippi, where he only played two games. And at his junior college stop, Chipola, he averaged only 9.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. So nothing he has done collegiately prepared us for what we’ve witnessed this season.
Stetson Hairston, USI coach Rodney Watson’s newest assistant, coached DeWitt at Chipola. But apparently even he didn’t know everything about DeWitt’s talent. Like his passing. After the Saint Joseph’s victory on Saturday, Watson told me about a time when he turned to Hairston and said, “You didn’t tell me he was going to be such a good passer.”
Such unselfishness may be the most important part of DeWitt’s game.
“It’s one thing to be able to pass,” said Watson, “and it’s another thing to be willing to pass.”
Has DeWitt become the indispensable man for USI basketball? At this point in the season, with the GLVC and NCAA tournaments looming, he may be. I can’t imagine the Eagles remaining successful without him.